Rude Prospect – Salesperson’s Lament

The prospect called the salesperson.  He needed a proposal for a custom item the salesperson sells.  The prospect said they were “in a real rush” and needed the information “yesterday.”

Naturally, the salesperson was excited.  She had been sending informative emails for months and following up with telephone calls, with the goal of getting an appointment to discuss the advantages and value of her product, but she had never been able to reach this prospect.  She kept leaving voice mail message after voice mail message to no avail and now, finally, she was excited to see that her persistence had paid off.  Now the prospect was calling her!  

She cleared her desk, met with associates, worked up a proposal in record time, and submitted it with an impressively low price, testimonials, photos, and data sheets that showed the superiority of her product, high level of service, and the specialized expertise of her company.  

The salesperson called the next day, and the next day, and then twice the following day, never getting the prospect, but leaving voice mail and e-mail messages each time… no response.

The salesperson told this all-too-common story over coffee.  “I worked hard to get that proposal out in a rush and followed-up the way I knew I should.”  She even sent a helium balloon in a box with a note, “This is a trial balloon”, hoping to get some response… any response… but no response came other than deathly silence. 

Maybe the prospect had an emergency, maybe he left the company, or maybe he was just “fishing” for a price to use in negotiating with a regular vendor.  There is a world of possibilities why there had been no response, but at that point, the salesperson didn’t know how much energy and time she should continue to invest in this prospect.

“I’m trying to do a great job and, while I want to make every sale possible, I know that I’ll lose some. But I hate not knowing if I am still in the running for the sale, being a pest, or having unrealistic expectations.  It’s so darn rude not to just let me know, even if he says that they changed their minds, I can at least quit spending time and energy on this and move on to something more productive, and all it would take is a few seconds of courtesy.  I would never be that rude to anyone.”

Let’s hope she remembers.

Question or comment to Larry:  larry@larrygaller.com