If you didn't know this about me, I used to be in outside sales. I was very good at it. Mainly because I didn't listen to my bosses, or pay much attention to "company protocol" or anything like that when dealing with my customers. I never read from scripts. I abhor telemarketing and prefer to work with someone face to face. I treated them like people, not "accounts," and I approached each sale like what it was -- either the start of or the nurturing of a relationship between ME (not the company that I worked for) and that customer.
When I began trying to organize and arrange this move, I signed up for a free moving quote that resulted in me being contacted by what seemed like hundreds of moving companies. Most were easy -- they called or sent an email (sometimes both) and that was that. But there was this one guy, from this one company, that has been harassing me. There really is no other word for what has been more than 100 phone calls and more than 20 emails over the course of the past week. (I am altering the guy's name and the company name to protect the guilty.) So as a service to Chazz, from Across America Moving and to any and all would be sales people, I am going to break down for you all exactly "How to Lose A Sale" -- or, "How to Be the Absolute Worst Salesperson Ever." Since this post was inspired by Chazz, I am going to address this to moving companies, but really, this could be adapted to any product or service.
First, be sure to call at dinner time for your initial contact. This lets your potential customer know that you don't really give a crap what they are doing -- this is all about YOU. When they tell you that they have 3 weeks to move a family of 6 across 750 miles and that they are trying to feed their4 kids right now who are circling like a pack of rabid wild animals chanting in unison "Is it ready now? Is it ready now?", be sure to lie through your teeth while repeating their name and telling them that you only need a few minutes. Now, tell them that to get them the best, most accurate price, you are going to need them to go around their house measuring all of their stuff. After they have complied as much as possible, put them on hold for 10-15 minutes while you go on a smoke break, to the bathroom, or whatever, and then come back and quote something that is at least twice what you could actually do it for.
The next morning, around 7:45, when your potential customer is racing against the clock to get her 4 kids off to school, be sure to call her and tell her that you "spoke to your manager" and that the 2 of you have been able to reduce the price by hundreds of dollars. Reiterate that you are working to get her the best deal possible and that you can take her deposit right now and get her on the schedule. When she balks and tells you that she has not had a chance to discuss your original quote with her husband yet, but that she will let you know, be sure to press her to make a decision. Busy moms love to be pressured to buy something, especially during stressful times. Do not let it phase you when she finally cuts you off and hangs up the phone.
Be sure to call back a few hours later that same day and give her yet another quote that is slightly lower than the second quote from a few hours ago. Perhaps in her confusion she will go ahead and sign with you. Send her multiple emails with the original numbers, the 2nd quote, and this newest quote with even lower numbers. The dropping prices will convince her that you are hard at work trying to get her the absolute best deal. Call her again at dinnertime to tell her that you were able to throw in some boxes or something.
On day three of this negotiation, your customer will quit answering the phone when you call. This is your cue to triple your efforts. She is playing hard to get. Try calling 2 or 3 times in a row to see if maybe she has misplaced her phone -- you could be helping her locate it. For every 4th or 5th call, leave a voicemail with a slightly lower price or added free services and follow up every voicemail with a new email outlining the progressively lowering price. This is a negotiation, after all, so be sure to at least appear to be giving a little -- even $20 or $30 could get her to change her mind.
Now it is the weekend. She is still playing hard to get. On Saturday, call her 2 or 3 times every hour, starting before 8 am and continuing until past dinner. Then on Sunday, call her right in the middle of church. It is always possible that she will inadvertently answer her phone as she is fumbling to silence it during the service. Of course, it could be that she expected you to call and has turned off her phone in anticipation, so just continue to call every hour or so. She HAS to move and she might as well use your company. By calling all of the time, you are making sure that your name and company are getting all of her attention.
The following week, begin saying things in your voicemails about how she is running out of time, the schedule for her moving week is filling up, she doesn't want to be stuck having to move herself, etc. Remind her that most other companies could not acomodate her at this short notice and reitterate how hard you have been working to get her a good deal. She will view the ever lowering price as the fullfillment of your promise to get her the best deal ever and not as a thinly veiled attempt to hide the fact that your original quote was an outrageous attempt to take advantage of her and her situation.
At some point during all of these negotiations, she will most likely send you an email telling you that she has decided not to use your company. Do not let that deter you. Continue to call repeatedly, at least 6 or 7 times a day. When she finally answers her phone, play dumb about the rejection email. Act like you never got it and try to make her feel guilty about not getting back to you when you have quite obviously spent a great deal of time on her account in the attempt to get her taken care of at the best price possible. When she explodes and goes into a 5 minute tirade about how you have been annoying and harassing her, do not take it personally. Just remember that this is all part of the process. Stutter, stammer, apologize, or whatever you need to do to calm her down enough to end the call.
After the accusation of harassment, it is important to send a follow up email with a new even lower quote as an apology. Then call her 2 or 3 times a day to make sure that she got it. When she doesn't respond to your email or phone calls, reiterate that time is running out. Have your manager call her and apologize and then have him reminder her that time is running out and have him offer a discount IF she calls you back today.
When she sends you an lengthy email detailing exactly why she has been avoiding you and stating that she would rather move her stuff by burro than to use your company, and saying that all future calls will be ignored and that she has blocked your emails as spam, don't give up. Simply give her a day to calm down, then start over as if you have never spoken to her before -- call her, state your name and company, and say that you are responding to her request for a free moving quote.
And THAT is how you lose a sale and earn the title of Worst Salesperson Ever.