I was never big on Shakespeare, took me long enough to master English as my third language, good old Willie just confused things that much further, I must admit that I do have an appreciation for the phrase from Hamlet “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”. Not only as a parent, but perhaps in a similar vein working with sales people, as exemplified by a recent exchange with a rep I am working with.
Earlier this month in a post title To Call Or Not, I cited some stats about the level of effort required to engage and sell new buyers. The rep in question was very defensive about some of the numbers, asking where they came from, when I shared that with him, he kept on protesting and questioning, just like the lady in Hamlet.
Having remembered that the company had recently done a trade show about a week before our conversation. I asked how many leads he picked up, he told me about a hundred or so. I went on “how many have you contacted or followed up with?” He told me about thirty or so. Or so? What is there a margin for error, or a margin for slackness? Either way, below the stat he was protesting, and likely the reason he was protesting, the light was just a little too bright.
At this point you have no choice but to don my Kevlar reinforced wetsuit, and ask “what about the rest?”
I bet if I asked you to look away from the screen you can guess the excuses, go ahead give it a go.
First just the lack of time, apparently there was a battery that had to be driven across town to a client. I took a bullet, in as much as he had to attend training. But my favourite was “Some of these are not real, some were just tire kickers, I can tell which are worth following up with, so I went to hose first, I will continue down the list.”
I right away called my wife “Honey, I met a real celebrity, I spent my morning with Kreskin” I can just see him holding those business cards up in the air, one by one, and divining which were buyers and which were not.
“Have you sent a follow up e-mail to the bunch?”
“I though Marketing was gonna do it”
Sales people are no different than others, if you don’t like the message, you shoot the messenger, and if the messenger is wearing Kevlar, try to undermine the numbers in question.
As discussed here before, sales people fall into one of two groups, what I’ve referred to as the X Factor of sales, execution, or excuses. Not only was our boy not ready to execute, he was great excuses, a complete lack of accountability. Now to be fair, there was little clarity from the organizations as to what was expected after the show, i.e. “follow up with all leads within 72 hours.” But in the end, for someone so ready to question the numbers, he was doing a lot to hide form them and little to disprove them.