How to Lose a Sale

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Summary:

A vendor left me a phone message. He began by thanking me for visiting his booth at a conference at which I was a speaker. He told me his product was just what I needed—it would solve some of my biggest problems—and he assured me I’d benefit in many ways. He then asked if I’d call him back so we could continue the conversation.

Conversation? What conversation? This fellow had mastered the Art of the One-Way Dialogue!

A vendor left me a phone message. He began by thanking me for visiting his booth at a conference at which I was a speaker. He told me his product was just what I needed—it would solve some of my biggest problems—and he assured me I’d benefit in many ways. He then asked if I’d call him back so we could continue the conversation.

Conversation? What conversation? This fellow had mastered the Art of the One-Way Dialogue!

Actually, I hadn’t visited his booth. He’d probably gotten my name from a list of conference attendees. As I listened to his message, my reaction was: We’ve never met. We’ve never talked. You understand neither my problems nor what I’d find acceptable as a solution. How can you claim to know what I need when you don’t know a thing about me?

Pssst, wanna buy a watch?

If you’re trying to sell something—whether it’s a product, service, idea, attitude or action—you’ll be more likely to succeed if instead of talking, talking, talking, you focus on inquiring, listening, and learning so as to understand the customer’s challenges, fears, obligations and responsibilities.

I was tempted to call the vendor back and leave a message of my own. “Thanks for visiting my voicemail system. My explanation for why I don’t like your sales process is exactly what you need. It will solve some of your biggest problems, and I assure you you’ll benefit in many ways. Please call me back so we can continue the conversation.” (But I resisted.)

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