Below is a selection of comments and stories we've heard from users of IoweU gathered from around the world. Gathering these stories is important because hearing of others' success can inspire some to take that first step and try something different and new.
So, if you are out there and you have a story (and you know how powerful stories can be), please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story may be someone's inspiration.
2014 and all's well
Actually all is not well. This note was written in late February 2014 after two examples in one week of bad old practices still prevailing. In the first, one of our affiliates visited a financial advisr to get some advice about mortgage services. The conversation kicked off with "Before we talk about your situation, let me first tell you something about who we are and what we do..." The advisor did not get the work.
Later the same week, a contact who works for a financial regulator complained about the "boilerplate submission" received from a majot consulting firm who were in the front-running to get a major contract but who had just shot themselves in the foot by submitting a generic pitch.
It is never too late to change a relationship Days after attending a workshop one participant attended a meeting as part of a team, with a major wholesaler, who was described by the sales team as a "difficult customer." The team had prepared in their usual way - essentially to pitch their new product range to the wholesaler. Some way into the meeting the CEO of the wholesale business interrupted the seller's presentation and said "Why don't you guys ever listen to me."
A few weeks later, the team went to see the wholesaler again. This time the IoweU workshop participant suggested to the team that theu follow some of the lessons he had learned. This time, part-way through the meeting, the CEO again interrupted. This time he said "What's going on? Fifteen years and finally you're listening to me."
How to underwhelm It's reassuring to know that traditional salespeople are still out there delivering standardised sales pitches extolling the generic virtues of their products without any thought of adjusting for the people or industry that they're speaking to. The rest of us should be thankful of course as it makes our goal of differentiating our own approach that much easier!
What is perhaps more surprising is that the latest story to be recounted to me involved the salespeople for some very large and supposedly sophisticated CRM providers. Software demonstrations included references to Call Centre functionality and consumer reports despite the fact that the buyer was a strictly face-to-face, B2B organisation engaged in selling high value professional services.
The buyer said he wondered how much effort it would have taken the salespeople to gain at least a basic understanding of how they operated and change some of the language in their presentation so that they gave at least some sense of wanting to understand the buyer's business. The buyer described their experience of talking to various CRM providers as "underwhelming".
The buyer coaches the salesman, and the salesman still doesn't get it "With this case, the Business Development Manager had sent me a standard "pitch" letter which I hadn't received by the time he called me to follow up. On the phone has asked me a range of questions like "what did I think of the letter" (I hadn't received yet) and then said something like "assuming you are interested in developing your people, I'd like to make a time to meet with you". I made a time, in spite of his poor approach, because I'm interested in the subject matter and also was curious to see how he would operate in a meeting.
At the meeting, he launched into a rehearsed spiel about the company, its history, its "world class" and "cutting edge" programs, a book full of client testimonials, access to free trials and money back guarantees. His only questions to me were things like "how does that sound?". My anger was growing and I almost lost it when he brought out a detailed questionnaire that he wanted to complete with me about my requirements (number of staff, etc). It was effectively an order form. I grabbed one of our brochures and suggested he complete it later based on the information contained inside.
Soon after, I asked him if he would be happy to accept some feedback on his sales style? He said yes but was obviously a little taken aback. I recalled his phone call and he identified the approach as one of the scripts they are given. I told him that I thought that the programs he was offering would be useful for our clients (about 2,000 a year nationally) but that his approach was a barrier to me wanting to work with him. He hadn't engaged in a conversation about the subject matter, hadn't identified my needs (if any) apart from an attempt at a written questionnaire/order form and couldn't substantiate claims such as "world class" and "cutting edge".
After my "intervention", we had a great conversation. He has some personal experiences in the subject matter and we had a good discussion about trends in organisations and limitations on business success. It was much more engaging and some of his credibility was regained. It is a shame that an obviously engaging, knowledgeable human being with some great services was forced to deliver an irritating standard spiel that was a barrier to effective selling.
He did send a follow-up email but it was a link to a website that delivers a standard "thank you for considering us" presentation. He said that he'd consider some information that I'd sent him and contact me the next week. I haven't heard from him in the month since then."
Wooden but definitely better "Following on from IOWEU coaching sessions I flew to London for a series of meetings with three existing and potential clients. All three conversations were different. I tried to use an I We U opening and SHAPE questioning in each conversation. When I asked my colleague for some feedback he said I sounded a bit wooden - that I wasn't as natural as normal. That's true, but what I said to him was that each of the conversations went better than previous conversations. "