A CEO's Perspective: The Sales Life

By Jeff McMahon, CEO, ZMac Transportation Solutions LLC

For most of us sales folks the idea of getting on the phone and leaving another voice mail or sending an email that never gets a reply is old boring and tiresome. It’s hard to “get up” to leave the 10th voice mail about how cool we are or to coax them into calling you back when you know the chances are less than 1%. We wrestle with this every day when we pull up our CRM. We debate on if we just enter a note so it rolls over for the next 10 days because we know they won’t pick up. And what if they do pick up! I have literally left 10 voice mails and sent 10 emails following up the voice mails I just left. What would I even say? I have used all my good stuff in the voice mails. How would I even respond ,a hello? I’m sorry I don’t have anything prepared for an actual person, I thought I would get your voice mail. This is a recording! Whew that was close.

But seriously, is this our life? What are the odds of a customer finally picking up the phone, letting you quote and then buying from you after all that? Guess what they are pretty high.

There are two schools of thought on this. One is you have actually developed a connection to the customer that is pretty safe for them. They can listen to your VM or read your email and not have pressure to say yes or no or anything. It’s like a TV commercial, repetition sinks in the message and eventually they become familiar and even may believe they have talked to you and feel very comfortable with you. This takes into account the messages you leave are always good, upbeat and explain a sample of your service offering like a commercial. It even pays to be funny and sound like you are having a great time. Everyone wants to be part of the fun right? The customer is getting the message and in most cases it really is about timing. There is a lot to be said for being in the right place at the right time. I delete emails and voice mails all day long and I know this stuff inside and out. I just think they haven’t made a good case to me as to why I should even listen. That is one of our biggest mistakes. You need to drop those bread crumbs on why you are better or what you are offering on every call, even a voice mail. It’s still a touch so make the most of it.

The second point to this is, sometimes customers just operate this way. We are highly trained and we want to close fast and if we sense we can’t, we generally want to move on. That’s effective too but how do you know when to say when? I use a couple of markers to decide. Since we are only leaving voice mails and not talking to them it’s very difficult to get a personal read on them so the first thing I look at is, are they moving my type of freight? Am I taking to the right person, the buyer? Are they even employed there anymore? That happens too. If you are leaving messages for the right person and they are moving freight then I will stay at it for quite a while. I even left a message once telling the guy if he didn’t pick up the phone and tell me to stop calling him I would just keep calling. (He never picked up by the way) Then it comes down to time. Do you actually have time to pursue a seemingly dead end lead when you are getting work from other customers and, is it worth standing on principal to prove that you are a really good sales person only to be left alone in the cold?... That’s when decision time comes up and it’s easy to pass on them or let someone else try them. Oh yes they don’t get let off the hook they get a new sales person now trying to get them to pick up and all along they could have just picked up and said “stop callin’ me!”

Depending on how much time and energy you have, you decide how to play it, but I can tell you some of my best customers were the ones who never answered a call or email for 6 months until one lucky shining golden moment, and then all is well. A relationship is born! Ahhh.

Keep trying!

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