This post is off topic a bit but may still hit home for you in some aspect of your work. We're all subject to receiving sales calls personally. They're the annoying calls we get during dinner and the very reason a "Do Not Call" list was ever created. In business we deal with these as well but in a few different ways. Unlike in our personal lives, professionally we may solicit sales calls in the form of RFP (request for proposal) meetings, consultant interviews, or vendor searches. Since we initiate these calls it's possible to let our guard down when we're on these calls in a way we wouldn't on a personal sales call at home. We shouldn't forget that regardless of who initiated the sales call, a salesperson's goals are the same: get your money for their product or service. Below are a three things I'm beginning to implement when I'm on the receiving end of a sales calls at the office:
- Clarity: Seek clarity for every question you have. Sales people want to close a deal. That is their goal. That is their prize. In doing so they may say things they don't even understand but think it's what you want to hear. I've heard salespeople talk continually until they feel like they've sufficiently given an answer to my question or at the very least redirected me away from the original question. Let's remember that it's not our job to interpret some kind of meaning among the barrage of words that may be thrown at us. If it's not clear the first time keep asking questions until it is clear...in fact, just ask the same question again as if the first time you asked it never happened. You'll know very soon if they have a clue what they're talking about.
- Proof: This is simple, get everything they say in writing before you make any decisions. You just don't want to hear one thing on a call and then find out later that it wasn't quite as good as they said it was. If the salesperson says you're going to get 10 different services when you go with them, ask for an email or letter as a follow up to restate those 10 things. If you're talking prices, get something written to you after the call to verify the number you heard. If they claim to be among the top five companies in their industry, ask them where you can verify that.
- Passion: Great sales people have passion for their product or service. This is a good thing because if you work with them you're going to want that, but don't mistake a person's passion for knowledge. It's easy to be lulled into believing everything a passionate personality may say...that's what makes them captivating. Listen as much to what they say as you do how they say it. A passionate person can be passionately wrong.