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The Indignity of Selling

Submitted by on Tuesday, 30 November 2010

For the past 20 years, I have closed my sales easily in one of two ways. 1. clients have purchased my services by calling me once, giving me a date, and giving me an address to send the contract. No price discussion, no others to meet, no meetings. They had read my books, had control over their budget, and called.

2.  When prospects have called with a more complex buying decision, I’ve used my Buying Facilitation Method® with them; I’ve used the Facilitative Questions to get their Buying Decision Team on board quickly, and we closed the sale (even with a six figure amount) in two or three calls and phone meetings.

Until this month, I have never met a prospect before they were a client. I have never done a pitch, written a proposal, done a presentation.

And now, with my work entering mainstream, I’m selling to a prospect who asked to meet me. Several times. Not because I wanted to. I’m still not convinced that an in-person meeting (even with the “C” level people and the full set of Buying Decision Team members) is important or necessary.

WHY THIS WAS DIFFERENT – AND DIFFICULT

Because my new client is one of the Fastest Moving Companies in America, they are constantly in motion. My client has changed jobs several times in the months we’ve been speaking, making it necessary for me to ‘sell’ new people in the same job descriptions. Making it hard to set a date with new people coming on board daily. Making it hard to get agreement when there is no way to set calendars to get together.

At first it was fun. I gave my client Facilitative Questions that helped him gather the right Buying Decision Team members, make the off-line decisions they needed to make without me (around whether and when to do training, how to maintain profits while learning new material). I was happy: Buying Facilitation™ was working well. I ‘got into’ meetings that I didn’t have to show up for, got my name trusted and respected by people I had never spoken with. I thought it was going along as it always had, but with a few more players.

Until there were more changes, more people involved, more countries that wanted training. Every step of the way I used Buying Facilitation™, and I absolutely know that if I hadn’t, the sale would have taken a year rather than a few months. I know this. But I must say that there is an indignity about the process.

To be honest, I don’t think it mattered whether I was in person or not. People in more junior positions felt free to come up with excuses as to why they didn’t want training, regardless of what their bosses said. They didn’t make nice. And I could have had the same discussions on the phone.

Next. There was an assumption that I didn’t mind waiting while people were late for meetings, or that people could treat me less than respectfully. It gave me a taste of how they treat their own sales folks (and probably their clients). Made me really question how much I’d need to give up (internally) for me to work with this group. Of course, I believe I can make a difference. But I’m aware of how clear my own boundaries will have to be.

And finally, after meeting with several folks during the course of the ‘prospecting’, I can honestly say that I could have accomplished just as much on the phone.

WHY TREAT SALES FOLKS DISRESPECTFULLY

But the time I wasted! The onslaught of objections when thrown in front of new folks who had no idea who I was, what I represented, what I would bring to them.  Why not assume that the bosses sent me for a reason? Why not take a moment and look me up so you know who I am – taking up 30 minutes of valuable time (for a meeting that I never asked for)? I’ve never had to suffer these indignities.

OK. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve never had to go through this before. But don’t buyers know it’s a demoralizing activity? Don’t they realize that by treating me well they’ll get a better solution?  And gosh – I’m working with folks who actively WANT my training. I cannot imagine the indignity of selling to folks who do not want to buy!

There must be a better way. Just saying.

sd

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  • http://www.trustedadvisor.com Charles H. Green

    Sharon Drew,

    I feel your pain. Unlike you, I’ve had that experience a few times now, and ‘indignity’ is indeed a good word for it. If I try my hardest to be charitable and curious, and to productively wonder what’s behind it all, I think it boils down to a basic misconception of selling that is rampant in a lot of business–particularly in certain businesses like technology.

    The belief is the idea that all human endeavor can be broken down, more or less easily, to constituent behavioral parts, quantified, and re-pieced back together in varying forms of processes. Linked to a bias for extrinsic-motivation theories of behavior, these kinds of organizations have come to think of selling as essentially a task in behavioral engineering: define inputs and outputs behaviorally, figure out how to measure them, then figure out how to incent them. In other words, define the maze, then sprinkle the cheese strategically to ‘optimize’ the mice’s behavioral ROI.

    The fact that this sort of drek frequently works is usually attributable either to monopoly power in the product line, and/or to the fact that buyers suffer from the same technoid delusion about human behavior.

    It is an indignity, yes. Those companies also spend an enormous amount of energy looking busy, confusing motion with impact, thinking that A.D.D. multi-tasking is synonymous with productivity. It’s all just wrong; very, very wrong, and on those occasions when I have run across such potential clients, we have usually figured out that we honestly don’t see things eye to eye.

    Which is frankly a blessing. Some business you don’t really want to sell. Be careful what you wish for…