Surely you've had that feeling before. You're going about your business ... you know, doing stuff, chugging along on what seems like an ordinary day. Then, all of a sudden, WHAM! You find yourself in a situation so surreal it prompts you to ask yourself, sometimes maybe even out loud, "Really?" It feels like you're in the Twilight Zone. You know what I'm talking about. Well, when you work in sales, you spend oodles of time in the Twilight Zone. As a matter of fact, the Twilight Zone starts to feel "normal." You come to expect weirdness. You aren't nearly as surprised when you enter it, anyway.
Where Salespeople Live
If you read any of my previous blog posts you'll remember I touched on this a bit. I'm referring to situations when generally nice, "normal," grown adult businesspeople behave like shy school kids. It goes something like this:
I start by calling or emailing to set up a meeting with a business owner. Sometimes, this is when I enter the Twilight Zone. My Facebook "friends," email contacts I've conducted business with before in other jobs, and other friendly acquaintances I may have known for years simply may not respond. I may proceed to attempt to reach them in different ways, two and three times, and they may just never get back to me. I'll even try different techniques in the ask ... carefully choosing my phrases to convey the brevity of my intended meeting. I'll ask if I may "run" over for a "quick" chat at their "convenience." I'll "sure appreciate it," I'll say. "Please" and "thank you," I'll say. I may even explain that if they hear what I have to say and decide it simply isn't for them — and this is the truth — there will be no hard feelings ... that it's my job to go out and meet with a certain number of business owners each week, and simply by letting me come over and talk for a few minutes they'll be doing me a favor and may learn about some neat ad opportunities that can help their business in the process. And besides, I might add, if what I've got doesn't interest them, it might interest someone else they know, and perhaps they can give me a referral. Sound reasonable? Would you let me in? Half of you are probably shaking your heads no, because that's about how many people will still not respond. Later, I will run into them at a coffee shop. Another Twilight Zone moment. But what about those who do agree to meet with me? Here's what happens next ...
We get together. They talk about their business. I tell them what I do and how it can help their business. Then, one of three scenarios occurs:
Scenario No 1: They buy something right then and there.
Scenario No. 2: They say they will or might buy something soon but not right that moment for any number of reasons, and I agree to call them the following week or month or whenever.
Scenario No. 3: They kindly decline to buy.
Scenario No. 1 is my obvious favorite. Everybody wins. We all save time. I earn a living. They get exposure and, in turn, new customers. Hooray for scenario No. 1! Too bad it happens this way only maybe a tenth of the time. And, what would seem to be the good news is, Scenario No. 3 almost never happens. I can count the number of times it has happened certainly on two hands if not one. So, that leaves Scenario No. 2 — where the vast majority of my sales pitches go. This often is, yet again, the entrance to that other dimension ... sucking time and energy, evoking weirdness, awkwardness, wonder and sometimes paranoia. This is the Twilight Zone, folks.
Now, at this this point what's going on with me is I just want to know whether they're going to buy something or not. If so, when? If not, why? (But if they really don't want to tell me why, I still prefer that they tell me no without any explanation than just leave me hanging.) I'll call or I'll email, just like we agreed I would, and guess what the most common response is? NO RESPONSE AT ALL! Hmmm. What does it mean?! Before you answer with, "It means they don't want to buy," let me tell you no, I doesn't necessarily mean that! I, too, thought that at first. But, too many times after getting the "no response at all" response — after I'd given up, cut bait and called it a loss — suddenly out of nowhere I've gotten a call, and guess who it was? It was Mr. Ignored All My Phone Calls And Messages Guy! And, guess what? He wanted to buy!!! Weird, right?
So, one day it occurred to me ... the perfect solution. And I crafted the following (brilliant!) email message:
Hi! I'm making my monthly rounds as the deadline for campaigns is approaching. Please pick one of the following:
1.) Yes, I am ready to sign up for a campaign! Let me know what we need to do to move forward.
2.) I am somewhat interested in a campaign but not just yet. Please follow up again next month.
3.) No, I am not at all interested in a campaign. Stop harassing me! =-)~
I look forward to your reply!
Can you guess how people respond 99.9 percent of the time? They don't respond at all. Sigh.