The following brief email exchange is one of the best examples of the worst examples (yes, a good example of a bad example) of sales skills I have seen in a long time.
Email from me,
Does Pearson sell a textbook for a Marketing 11/12 class curriculum?
I will be teaching Marketing 11/12 and need a textbook.
Can you help?
Here is the reply I received,
I’m sorry, we don’t.
(sales-rep name removed by me, the editor, to avoid messy stuff)
- Connected Inside Sales-School Division BC/MB
- For Customer Service: (a 1-800-style number)
- Feel-good company motto here
- Learn more at www…the company website.
So what is wrong with this email? Why is it a good example of a bad thing? Because this is what I, the customer is hearing from the sales rep, “NO, I cannot help you and I have no interest in trying to help you.”
A little background information; I will be teaching a seminar course on introductory social media marketing and I am looking for a textbook. I will need about 30 textbooks. As textbooks are typically $100 a pop, this is not an earth-shattering deal for the sales-rep, but it could have been a $3000 deal and the beginning of a profitable relationship between the bookseller and me. Instead, I am told “NO”.
Why did the sales rep not offer me an alternative? You know, “Have you considered this book…” or “Have you looked at our website to see what other similar books we do offer?”
Why did she not enquire more about what I needed? Why did she not try and build a relationship between her company and me?
It is interesting to note the contrast between her response and the sales rep from Nelson Publishing. I emailed both sales reps late yesterday evening. Sure the response discussed above was prompt, however, her competitor’s response was not only prompt, it was a personal visit to my office!
She arrived in my office this afternoon with a sample textbook, a teacher’s guide and a student workbook plus information on how I can obtain more copies and most importantly, a promise to help out in any way she can.
Let me add that in my email to her I did not state my office address or when I would be in my office. She took the initiative to find that information and to come to me offering multiple solutions.
Also, within an hour of her visit to my office she sent me a follow-up email with pricing and information about digital licenses for some texts.
Two ways of doing business. I know where I will go when I need textbooks. And it isn’t to someone who says no.