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How to Lose a Sale in 3 Emails

Posted by Trish Bertuzzi on Tue, Nov 27, 2012

If you’ve read this blog for any period of time, you know my thoughts on Sales Reps using email as the primary vehicle for communicating with buyers.

Not only can too many things go wrong (as you'll see below), but in reality a sale doesn’t start until someone has a conversation.

A colleague of mine, let’s call him Nick, sent me the following:

Trish – since I’ve seen some of your posts on ‘how NOT to do a cold call’ and related sales silliness, I thought I would pass this along.  Here’s an example of a horrible sales experience with me as the buyer.

I thought this story might make good fodder for a post stressing the importance of qualifying, when live conversations make sense, and how to screw up a deal with email.

Here’s the email exchange

Nick replied that it was premature to judge fit a) before he had a chance to learn about the product and b) before the Sales Rep understood his needs, budget, etc.

Where did this all go awry?

Sales Rep’s first email:

  • The good: He started out well, offering a demo and suggesting a conversation to ensure fit.
  • The bad: He did no pre-call planning. If he had, he may have identified his concerns earlier and perhaps offered just an initial conversation - saving the demo for later in the sales process.

Sales Rep’s second email:

  • The good: He finally does some research and clearly is concerned about fit.
  • The ugly: Rather than stick to his original commitment, he decides to back pedal and use the old “price as a qualifier” sniff test. This technique just doesn’t play well over email. It comes across as downright rude and sounds like he is trying to kick Nick to the curb.

How did this saga end?

I reached back out to Nick and here’s what he had to share:

I eventually got the Rep on the phone. He continued down the ‘are you worthy’ angle…so I gave up on him. 

The timing of your follow up is interesting – as I just signed a contract to spend mid 5-figures on a competing technology to roll out in 2013.

I hate it when a bad salesperson destroys my ability to consider a good vendor.

Don’t we all. Don’t we all.

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Thanks for sharing this information. E-mails can kill any sale. How can any sales person qualify a prospect through e-mails is beyond me. Before even trying to sell a demo, there are several questions that need to be asked about the problem or opportunity. Doing research on a prospect is great for developing the right questions, but not qualifying.

posted @ Tuesday, November 27, 2012 8:02 AM by Allan Himmelstein

By his own admission, Nick bit off his nose to spite his face and so missed out on the opportunity of a competitive quote that might have provided even more value to his employer. We should never let emotion cloud our business judgment. But as I've always said, it's more important that the customer like the sales person than the salesperson like the customer. This story shows that you can't build rapport by email.

posted @ Tuesday, November 27, 2012 10:10 AM by Emilio Peire

First off, helluva post. This is solid content. 
I'd love to hear what you think about this solution: 
Step #1  
Use creative email that shows you did your research to set up a qualification call. 
Step #2 
On the call, if there is qualification, go straight into the demo. Something like.. 
"it sounds like there is possibility for a fit here, if you're at a computer and have 5-10, I can show you a few quick features..what do you say?" 

posted @ Tuesday, November 27, 2012 10:40 AM by Kyle Porter

Thanks for the feedback.  
@Allan - email is a double edged sword and we have to use it wisely. 
@Emilio - another viewpoint is that if the service pre-sales is that bad goodness only knows what it will be post sales 
@kyle - If you can get a response via email and get to the call that is a great strategy!

posted @ Tuesday, November 27, 2012 12:42 PM by trish bertuzzi

In my experience this is usually an example of a push from a ju

posted @ Tuesday, November 27, 2012 4:39 PM by Brooke Motta

Hi Trish, 
I despair so frequently when I see examples of email follow-up gone horribly wrong.  
I assume Nick had shown a real interest in the product, but what really drives me mad is when a similar email is sent as a follow-up to a whitepaper or webinar. 
In too many cases the sales people go straight to pushing a demo, even though the prospect has not shown interest in the product itself. This type of shortcut seldom works and can quickly waste a good lead. 
I get so worked up about it I've actually written a post about it as well recently: How to waste a perfectly good Lead with a crappy Sales Follow-Up 
Would love to hear what you make of that example.

posted @ Thursday, November 29, 2012 1:47 PM by Daniel Waas

This consultant cost himself and his company a shot at some signifcant revenue. He may have had some success in the past with these tactics thinking that he is saving his time and effort for "qualified" prospects. 
His company should put in place a sales process that has built in self audits that are put in place to check where the prospect is in the buying process. In other words a "go, no-go" system. Nick could was most likely a "go" if a solid sales process was followed.  

posted @ Friday, November 30, 2012 12:40 PM by John Klipka

Trish, sorry I'm late. As I read this story, I found myself wondering if this rep is as ineffective on a call and in person as he is in email. Clearly, we can't speak to whether he's ever been trained/coached, but as the world changes, we'll need to communicate effectively regardless of the communication vehicle being used.

posted @ Monday, December 03, 2012 5:22 AM by Rick Roberge

Two things - it's either the sales rep lacks training on sales etiquette or he's just plain lazy. This is such a waste of company money. Investing on the wrong sales people.

posted @ Thursday, December 06, 2012 9:47 PM by Ayeen Benoza

I really really really hate when reps start emails with "I would love to" or in this case, "I am more than happy to". Kills me.  
Obviously this rep doesn't get the idea that his job is to help people solve problems.

posted @ Saturday, December 08, 2012 7:45 AM by Peter Caputa

Thank you for sharing this. As a salesperson, one of your role is to look help solve problems. This guy was only there for the sell. Once he saw that the company is small, he runs off. It shouldn't be like that.

posted @ Sunday, December 09, 2012 11:46 PM by Amber King

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