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Pen Pals or Prospects: Part 2

by Trish Bertuzzi on Tue, Jun 10, 2008

I recently read a posting on Dave Kurlan's blog Understanding the Sales Force. It is titled How to Coach a Salesperson. The point of the posting was about how to help your salespeople avoid the "Happy Ear Syndrome". I have included an excerpt below but the whole post makes for an interesting read. 

A salesperson sent me the thread of email conversations that took place between him and his prospect during the last couple of days. I've included it here with four exceptions; I changed the names, put the messages in order so you won't have to read from the bottom up, bolded the important pieces of information so you'll see them the first time through and put my comments in red:

Salesperson's follow up email:
Anything new develop on your decision making process? I'm trying to get you to Chicago, but I'm not sure what it will take.

Prospect's response:
Right now we are holding off on any decision. However, the issue is not fully closed. [salesperson probably keyed in on "issue not fully closed" instead of "holding off"] Our current supplier is in the process of implementing a new system that on paper should take care of most of our issues which prompted our RFP. At the time we did not know this new system was planned. We now have a wait and see mentality and may revisit our RFP info if this system does not meet our needs in a timely fashion. Thank you for your patience and I will let you know if and when something breaks. Feel free to contact me should you have any questions.

Now, here is my question for you: If your sales rep sent that email to a prospect in the closing phases of a highly competitive situation, what would you think?

And even more importantly, what do you think he did when he got the response that pretty much told him that the incumbent vendor was kicking his butt? You guessed it; he continued to communicate via email.

I think I have finally figured out one of the reasons that sales people suffer from call avoidance. They are not comfortable handling objections or asking the hard questions in person or over the phone but they are via email. Email makes it not personal for them but it also makes it not personal for the buyer.

Isn't selling about communicating and building relationships? 

If you are a sales manager reading this post and you can relate to this situation, you have to assume some responsibility for the problem. Do you know how and when your team is using email to communicate with qualified prospects?  Have you prepared your team to handle objections that come at them real-time? How much time have you spent with them on closing techniques? Do you do live coaching and role playing?

I would love to hear from sales managers that execute best practice coaching techniques. Feel free to post and happy selling!


Topics: inside sales management

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