Dec 9, 2009

Are you a cold-calling salesperson? Then act like one.

The other day, while working on developing our agency's Continuity of Operations Plan (yes, that would be the Co-op's COOP), I received a cold call from some sales guy.  Looking back, I wish I remembered the dude's name because I would steer you far clear from this guy.

The phone call started off about as normally as most cold calls do, he introduced himself and told me he worked as an Oracle solutions provider.  Here is basically how the conversation went:

Him: "I'm so-and-so, and I'm an Oracle solutions provider.  I was wondering if you had any need of our services. I was told you are the person I should talk to about IT."

Me (knowing that Oracle is a database company, but wanting the guy to work for his pay): "Yes, I'm the IT person here.  What do you do?"

Him (a bit agitated): "Well, we're Oracle."  He pauses as if that should be enough explanation, then continues, "We do database management for companies."

Me (unable to resist the urge to pester the guy): "I'm not sure how that would help me.  Why do I need your services?"

Him (really agitated or confused, it's hard to tell): "Well, do you have anything you're doing with databases?  Like financial records or personnel or backend web data?"

Me: "We run Microsoft Office Sharepoint Services 2007 with SQL 2005."

Him: "Well, with your Office, do you run any databases or anything?"

Me (shaking my head because MOSS 2007 is not 'Office'): "We have a few Access databases, but that has nothing to do with our MOSS solution."

Him (either really pissed or very flustered): "Well, okay, yeah, I guess I'm not sure I'm talking to the right person then."

Me (VERY pissed off): "Whoa!  What do you mean 'not the right person?'  I told you I am THE technology person here.  We're running MOSS 2007 with Microsoft SQL. How am *I* the 'WRONG' person?"

Him: "Well, I don't think you understand -" He breaks off his thought and instead finishes with, "Well, thanks anyway." (or something just as banal)

Now, the moral of the story is this: As a salesperson, your job is to SELL me on your product or service.  Know why you are calling BEFORE you call a prospective customer.  He or she may still not buy from you, but you will be much more well-received if you know what you're talking about.  On the other hand, if you aren't sure, DON'T fake it.  How hard is it to say, "I don't know what that is" or "What is that" when you encounter a potential customer in his or her own environment.  And, last but not least, NEVER, and I mean NEVER talk "down" to a customer, especially one that isn't even a paying customer yet.  Granted, I pushed the guy a bit.

I have no idea if I will ever need services that Oracle offers or not, but rest assured, I will think long and hard before I ever even think about using them.  Yes, based on this one experience.  I don't have time to cottle and cuddle with some salesperson I don't even know, and I sure don't have time to play "catch up" after being treated like *HE* was doing *ME* the favor of his calling.  Next!

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