Etiquette Part IV- Assume Nothing

This blog wasn’t really started to debunk sales cliches, but it looks like I am going to do it again anyway.

It is said that you should always “assume the sale”.  Acting like the customer already said yes, is supposed to magically make them think that they did.  To steal a phrase from our CTO, “Bollocks!” (He’s British)

I had some experience today with a competitor who tried this.  My potential client out out a bid to several companies.  We were the first to respond (as usual :)).  Many others took up to 2 weeks just to return the call.  This was a bid by invitation, as the project takes a high level of skill and customization. 

So, what did my competition do? 

Firm One was non-responsive.  They are the same type of firm that complains that the economy is the reason they are losing business no doubt.

Firm Two, still hasn’t provided a number two and a half weeks later, but claim they are interested.  Neither of thes illustrate the fallacy of “assumption” however they could benefit from my last post on follow up, for sure.

It is Firm Three that is of interest.  First of all, they start the conversation by telling the client that it will be $15,000 to talk about the project, (No I didn’t have a fit while typing the 0s, there were 3 of them after the numbers 1 and 5).  Maybe that business model works for them sometimes, but in 2011 with the current business climate, maybe not so much.

The kicker comes though with what they did next.  They sent a signed contract over via email within an hour for return with signatutre to get started.  To quote the customer, it was “presumptous”.  As a closing technique I never found this helpful, although I worked for a few places that made us live it vehemently.  They made us ask questions like “What’s your zipcode for shipping?” instead of “Can we do business together?”, etc.  The problem was it very seldom  worked.

My advice is to stop focusing on the “close” and spend a little more time focusing on the customer and the application.  Don’t assume the sale, but follow up in a way that inspires  the client to ask if he can make a purchase.  People like to buy, they don’t like to be “sold”.

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