Are your sales efforts focused on meeting human needs, or does your sales team treat prospects as objects? If you don’t know, you should. After all, it’s your business at stake.
Human-centered organizations focus on meeting customers’ specific needs and goals. They discuss with people, rather than talking at people from a script.
Recently, I was a prospect on a frustrating call with a vendor that helps businesses write books. It was positioned as a free consult. It was not. Not only did it not provide value; it destroyed value.
For 45 minutes, this vendor stuck to a tight script, talking “at” me, rather than conversing with me about my needs. I’m not a robot, so why was he acting like one? There was nothing human about this experience, and I would never treat a prospect this way. Several times, I tried to segue from the script back to my specific issues, and each time he put me on “hold” to get back to his formula. He had a product to sell; I had a set of human needs to meet. I didn’t give a crap about his “product.” As cartoonist Hugh McLeod described in a scene where marketers were speaking jargon, “if people really talked like this to us in real life, we’d punch them in the face.” AMEN.
When you stick to a script, you strip the consultative, human element out of the conversation. He didn’t want a relationship; he wanted to make a sale, a transaction. That means he made the call about him and his pocketbook.
This vendor was lacking something critical to sales and marketing success: emotional awareness. He did not get that my attempts to deviate from the script was me letting him know he was way off. In fact, it made him stammer. That’s right; he stammered because he didn’t actually know how to talk with people and really listen. Sales and marketing require emotional intelligence. While I actually enjoyed knocking him off his script that treated me like a sales object with dollars signs over my head, it was disappointing to see exactly how unprepared he was to have a conversation.
When I asked if I could speak to several references, he stated that it’s “not our policy.” Not your policy to let prospects talk to actual customers? Wow. He clearly didn’t want me talking – something humans do – to his customers. Instead, after the call, he sent more of his sales collateral with his company’s filtered ‘success stories’ of clients making hundreds of thousands of dollars before their books were even published. It sounds hard to believe. And it is. Which is clearly why he was unnerved. The reality is your prospects already talk about you (see my side note below), which is exactly why in this new world of peer connections and referrals, you need to be engaged in actual conversation with prospects, not in hard selling. Selling does not create trusted relationships. .
Sales success depends on how you make people feel about doing business with you. It’s about a human, feeling-based connection. And following a script regardless of my needs makes me feel distrustful and insulted. His agenda is transparent, and so was his lack of sales prowess.
Now back to my point about value. Great sales people create goodwill and trust. When we treat people as sales objects, we destroy value for both the prospect and for the organization. I can’t get my time back, and it’s not easy to undo the damage to the organization’s reputation caused by such an interaction.