I Am Not A Sales Guy But I Know Bad Prospecting When I See It

I am not a sales guy.

The ability to talk small eludes me.  I’m quite happy to take no for an answer.  And the idea of engaging with new people…gah…stranger danger!

So while I haven’t had any genetic testing done yet, I’m pretty sure I don’t have the new business chromosome.  My work at RSW/US lies in providing marketing communications support for a roster of New Business Directors and their agency clients.

So what in the world am I doing on the Agency New Business Blog this week?!

Because, even though I’m not a sales guy, I do know bad prospecting when I see it.

Once upon a time, our company employed the services of a marketing automation platform.  I won’t say which one, let’s call them Best MarPlat, Inc. Best MarPlat offered a fine product and we used it for a couple of years, but we eventually realized it didn’t fit our needs.  We ended our relationship with them amicably enough and I walked away with goodwill in my heart towards them.

Over the past couple of months, our marketing department has been getting sales calls from Best MarPlat on a weekly basis.  Each of us gets a call about once every other week or more. In fact, while writing this post, I just got another call from them.  Their sales teams is really working it today!

Or rather, what I assume is their possibly overseas outsourced lead generation firm is working it.  I say “assume” and “possibly” because my phone interactions with their sales team vibes really harshly with the company I came to know and tolerate during our time with Best MarPlat.  

We were in a relationship with Best MarPlat for a couple of years. We laughed.  We cried. We had many adventures. I felt like we shared some good times. But, maybe that feeling wasn’t mutual.

It seems like they don’t know anything about me.  Their calls are cold and they leave me cold.

Following is a dramatized transcript of one of our calls but it’s based on true events.

Best MarPlat Salesperson:  Hello, my name is Benjamin with Best MarPlat.

Me:  Hi, Benjamin!

Best MarPlat Salesperson:  We saw that you were on our website today reviewing our most recent white paper.

Me: I don’t remember that…but maybe I did.  Please, continue!

Best MarPlat Salesperson:  We’d like to email a PDF of the white paper.  Can I verify that your email is miguel.trejo@rswus.com?  

Me:  Sure, Benjamin.  Give that a shot.  YOLO!

Hmm…I had no idea what to make of that interaction.  First off, that’s not my email address. Best MarPlat had my email address, didn’t they?  We’d exchanged emails for years while we were their customers.

Here’s another.

Me:  Hi, you’ve reached RSW/US, this is Miguel Trejo speaking.

Best MarPlat Salesperson:  Hi, Steve. This is Tanya of CompTech calling on behalf of Best MarPlat.  How are you today?

Me:  I’m doing great, but I can’t really say how well Steve is doing.  Actually, now that you mention it, he looked like he might be coming down with something.  But, I digress, do go on.

Best MarPlat Salesperson:  Thanks, Steve. That’s great to hear.  We saw that you were on our website today reviewing our most recent white paper.  We’d like to email you a copy. Can I verify that your email is…

Me:  I’m so sorry to interrupt.  I should go. Now that you’ve got me worrying about Steve, I feel that I should check in on him.  Could you give me your website address so that I can take another look at your company and download the white paper later today?

Best MarPlat Salesperson:  [Click as they end the call.]

Me:  Tanya?  Tanya…are you there…are you ok?  Tanya if you’re in trouble and can’t speak, blink twice.  Tanya!?!?!?

I never did find out if Tanya was ok and, by the way, Steve is feeling much better.

Enough fun.  I offer these ridiculous scenarios to illustrate a few points.

  1. Know what you’re getting into when you outsource your new business prospecting.  What’s their process? If they’re a call center, like I suspect Best MarPlat is probably employing, how well-trained are their salespeople (agents)?  How clean are their lists? Who can tell, Best MarPlat’s lead generation service might be generating a high volume of leads, but their approach may end up alienating just as many people. And not a knock on call centers generally, but we’ve worked hard at RSW to distance ourselves from the thousands of call centers that exist out there by focusing on a mix of numbers and quality of prospecting.
  2. Keep track of your prospects.  Sure, you’re only human and you can only be expected to remember so many details surrounding a certain number of prospects at any one time.  As prospects go cold they will probably fall off your radar, or you might nurture them with a drip campaign. But, keep good records and make sure that your re-engagement with prospects who’ve gone cold is as tailored and targeted as you can make it.  If Best MarPlat had gotten back in touch with me basing their communications on our previous relationship, I would have at least taken the time to chat about new features they’ve added to their platform.
  3. Don’t be a lizard person.  What I mean by this is that you need to treat every prospect as if they’re a living, breathing, thinking human being.  Let’s forget for a moment that their agent hung up on me, that they call me incessantly always asking for the same information, or even that they’re lying about their reason for calling; what really bothers me about Best MarPlat’s new business approach is how impersonal it is.  I and the other people in my department are little more than lines on a spreadsheet to them; their sloppy, thoughtless tactics say that loud and clear.

Happy hunting, Agency New Business Heroes.  

From what I hear about prospecting, it can seem harsh and cold out there sometimes.  Winter is coming but warm yourselves with the knowledge that it’s difficult to make as many mistakes as Best MarPlat is currently making with their new business approach.

As for me, I’m going to grab a mug of hot cocoa and hunker down by my office phone.  I haven’t heard from Benjamin in a while and I wonder what he’s up to.

Miguel Trejo is Director of Marketing Communications for RSW/US where he oversees ongoing content strategy and development for client new business programs. However, when night falls you might catch him performing with his improv troupe or enjoying a board game with his family.