I keep hearing this sort of refrain, increasingly expressed by business folk, exacerbated,perhaps, by almost universal frustration with increasing levels of ‘noise over signal’ in social media, email and phone communication.
I hear, “how hard is it to be polite”, “he never called back”, “they just hung up”.
I hear of the frustration generated by the faceless mass of cold callers who, upon realising that they’re not getting anywhere hang up leaving a sense of real and palpable anger at this commodity approach to us. Increasingly, worryingly, I also hear such frustration around B2B interactions. This reaction is entirely human, we don’t respond well to bad manners, manners are a necessary social device to reduce friction, improve communication and enable the building of relationships. And you know how strongly I feel about the power of relationships in the B2B complex sales space.
But there’s a very real sales opportunity being missed here, let me tell you a brief story and see if it resonates.
I noticed a couple of occasions when the same chap looked at my linked-in profile, I didn’t recognise him or his company, let’s call it LeedForensics for the sake of discretion. You might not be surprised that, a few days later an email dropped into my mailbox, from this same chap, explaining that he’d looked at our website and thought that his company and their product might help us generate opportunities by using their visitor analytics to identify and pursue hitherto unknown and unidentified visitors to our website. OK, not something that interested me, but I appreciated the fact that he’d obviously done some research, crafted a tailored email and ensured at least an approximate match between their tools and our business profile. So I didn’t just ignore his missive, I wrote a reply and said that I didn’t see a match at this time, I bothered to explain at a broad level how we currently generate opportunities and I thanked him for his interest.
Had I been him I’d have thought of a number of possible responses to that…
Maybe, “Can I explore a little more how you do generate business Steve, I’m always eager to learn?” Result- the dialogue continues, I’ve won business after six years of that sort of occasional interchange.
Or maybe “Sorry to hear that, let’s do the Linked-in thing and keep in touch?” Result, if I agree, the dialogue continues.
Or possibly, “You’re a pro, (flattery) could you take a moment to give me some more detailed feedback on why our proposition didn’t appeal to you?” Result, the dialogue continues.
At the very least, how about “Just a quick thank you for responding”? Result, the door to future dialogue isn’t closed, and he has started to create positive awareness of himself and his proposition.
But no, what he did was nothing, the B2B equivalent of the cold-call hang-up, blowing the research and effort put in so far and creating a negative impression with a potential customer, a recommender, a professional and keen networker, a sales coach to large influential businesses and occasionally a highly critical business blogger and opinion expresser.
What harm could that do?