I saw a question this week in a sales community on LinkedIn. A member was looking for a referral for sales management training. What struck me hard was that he said he’d reached out to four companies who offer sales management training services. Three days had gone by, and only one of the companies had reached out to him. Unfortunately the one company who had a rep reply gave a very scripted pitch over the phone, making him now reach out for referrals rather than through the companies paying for high search ranking.
This is in the sales management training business!
Do you see what I’m saying?
It is the industry I am in, and all too often I’ve seen firsthand that first impressions make or break referring peers and colleagues. The standards must be higher with those teaching, training, and coaching on how to build revenues and work well with prospective buyers.
There are glitches that can happen – our team has not always gotten back to inquiries within hours, but that is our standard. We don’t have anyone on staff who would pitch – rather we’d want to learn more to see if we are more likely to be a fit and talk further or less likely and offer a referral.
It was poor service and impressions that got us (Score More Sales) to shift to sales leadership work several years back.
At the time, I was working with a $1B company with 200+ sellers and dozens of sales leaders. Knowing at that time we could not handle a sales leadership team of this size, I reached out to four “industry peers” of mine – some with big local or national (even international) names and reputations.
In every case the follow up, with direct connection to my client, was sub-par. I had to remind people to follow up, and I had to help translate between world class sales management trainers and my clients. It made me look bad in the client’s eyes – at least initially.
The company who did eventually get the project struggled in the beginning as well. I was in my client’s offices and my client put the person I referred them to - the leader of that company – who is a published author and international speaker – on MUTE after he had gone on for over 3 minutes without a breath. He was telling my client all about himself, his work, and not asking questions about the project. I helped bridge the gap by giving the "big name" at the training company direct feedback and mailing my client a copy of this gentleman’s book – since the training company didn’t think to do that. They got the deal and never looped me back in, which made me feel like they didn’t really care about the client after all. They certainly didn't care about me - a true referrer with many more potential referrals that could be made. Good referrers keep others in the loop to let them know how things are going and what they learned working with them. You can probably guess that I never referred them any more business.
What changed for me was realizing how weak the engagement and follow up is from companies who are in the business of teaching others how to DO engagement and follow up. After realizing there was a huge opportunity to deliver in this under-served market, we did a lot of research and came up with a platform and tools to help companies hire better and a way to evaluate the health of their sales team and entire sales ecosystem. Now we help sales teams build their foundation of people, process, and leadership so that everything works together to create and grow sustainable revenues and ultimately profits. Because of great industry colleagues, we can now work with any sized sales team, too.
It was not surprising to read that LinkedIn post to hear this is still going on in an industry that should set the example. You can't assume that just because someone is an author or a big name speaker that they will do the work as a professional to engage with you, learn about your business, and focus on your needs as a buyer or buying group. It is something we think about every day, and if we ever goof up, please let me know.
Lori Richardson helps mid-sized companies grow revenues by solving key issues in their sales department - like recruiting, retention, diversity hiring, process, pipeline and leadership. She speaks at CEO groups on topics of sales growth. Clients include companies in the technology, telecom, manufacturing, distribution, and professional services industries. Subscribe to the award-winning blog, follow her on Twitter
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