Oftentimes when you are in a sales position you do not always get a sale. It is just a fact of the numbers game. You may talk to someone for a half hour or even an hour, and the call ends with the potential customer saying “Thank you” and you never talk with them again. But with that “Thank You”, even though you did not get the sale, you have still done your job.
Wait wait wait… how did you do your job if you did not close the sale? How is getting a ‘thank you’ from someone helping out your pipeline? To me, it is pretty simple. The main purpose of your role as a salesman is to serve the consumer by sharing knowledge about your products/services and evaluating the choices available. In doing this, the customer’s answer may not always be a yes.
It all goes back to my first blog post, Leads Are Seeds. Basically, a lead comes in as an immature seed, and needs all the right combination of elements to help it flourish. The same goes with this type of situation. Someone knows what they want but may not know how or where to get it. I can’t tell you how many times someone has called and said customized databases are all new to them, they have no idea how to pursue this type of solution. My job as a salesman is to inform them of our services and way of business. Also I am educating them on how to get what they need from other sources if we are not a good fit for them.
A perfect example of this happened a couple of weeks ago. A woman called me to inquire about using FileMaker to help keep track of her clients. I needed to steer her in a different direction because of the size of her project. We typically will engage a customer when the project is at a minimum $5,000 level of development. We sell services that are below that threshold, but for coaching or training, not custom development. When this potential customer described her needs, I realized that we were not going to be a good fit. But, I did not think, “OK, time to get off the phone as fast as possible.” No. I was still listening to find out how I may best serve her by pointing her in the right direction. You see, sometimes people go looking for a backhoe when all they really need is a shovel. (My new “Texas” analogy.)
What we do best here is develop custom databases for small to medium-sized businesses. Since we are not in the business of developing a solution that can be sold over and over again, our solutions come at a premium price. But there are ways for people to get an-off-the-shelf solution or a semi-customized solution for a lot less than our $5,000 threshold. And that is what I helped her do. I gave her some suggestions for places to look for independent developers in her area (Tennessee).
When all was said and done, I obviously did not get a sale. But what I did is just as important. I served her by sharing a little knowledge and pointing her in the right direction. The result is not yet felt in the pocketbook. But she was so happy that I helped her figure out a direction to go, that she said she would be mentioning to her other friends with businesses how helpful and knowledgeable we are. And that type of word-of-mouth advertising is the best possible kind. Plus, by trying to serve rather than sell, we might get business that we never would have had otherwise.