By Tibor Shanto – firstname.lastname@example.org
Had an interesting discussion with a rep Jim, last week around the area of trust. He works for smaller company, they use various technologies to help them with lead gen and nurturing. Two specific apps enable him to track who has opened his e-mails, and the other lets him know who has visited his company’s web site, right down to specific pages. As you can imagine, with the right content, laced with specific links, a seller can gain some great insights.
Having worked with the team, I know that they are diligent about avoiding and or removing objections. Jim was on the phone with a potential buyer who asked that Jim send him some info before committing to an appointment, Jim tried everything we put in our Objection Handling Handbook, but in the end had to send some info. As per the teams SOP, he only sends e-mail, chock full of links, and scheduled a follow up call to review. Over the next few days Jim saw the prospect read the e-mail, both in the office and on his mobile device. He saw the footprints on the website, hitting critical target pages, Jim was ready for the call back.
The Objection Handling Handbook, instructs sellers to continue taking away objections on call back, encouraging sellers to start the call by saying: “Hi Mr./Ms. Prospect, this is Jim calling back, following up on the information I promised to forward, you probably haven’t had a chance to read it, have you?” Thus taking wary the obvious and common dodge.
Feeling confident as a result of technology, Jim skipped the take away, and left himself open, and disappointment by asking the buyer if he had reviewed the e-mail, and letting the facts get in the way of process, he assumed the buyer would lead with the fact that he did read the note and visited the website.
Well guess what, yup, the buyer took a left turn and you know it, “Jim, I am up to my eyeballs in alligators, and just have not had a chance to get to it, leave it with me and I’ll get back with you as soon as I have”. Jim, got back and program and managed to secure a face to face appointment with the buyer, and the cycle is progressing.
Jim was upset for two reasons, one he could fix, specifically the approach and methodology. By executing the follow up call according to plan, regardless of whether he knew if the prospect had read his e-mail, or visited the desired pages on the company web site.
The second was a bit more problematic for Jim, while not being naïve, he was looking to establish trust with the buyer and felt that the buyer had undermined that opportunity. While he will continue to engage with the prospect, and will continue to be honest, straight forward and ethical with the buyer, he says he will always have a hint of doubt as to the integrity of what this buyer will tell him, and by extension other buyers.
In the end technology does not replace human interaction, and with any interaction there is some give and take. I pointed out to Jim that the buyer may have had some reasons for not being straight with Jim, including bad experiences with other sellers, perhaps looking to see what kind of rep Jim is, or any number of reasons. Trust is not instantaneous, it takes time and familiarity, which why I am surprised when some pundits talk about being able to establish trust right out of the gate, or even on a voice mail.
More importantly, technology is there to support the effort, not replace it, had Jim stuck to the program, he would have been able to respond to the situation more effectively, but he had painted himself into a corner, not the technology.
Having said that, it does raise the issue of how fragile trust is, and how easily it is undermined by technology. While the buyer may argue that they were being spied on, they should also be aware that there are no secrets on the internet, and any time you click a link, you have company.
What do you think of Jim’s dilemma, and whether technology can in fact undermine trust?
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