Graceful v/s Manipulative Sales

23 Apr

One of the Portuguese proverb says -“Stumbling is not falling”. Well, this time I would like to congratulate one of our competitors for winning a bid to implement Helpdesk and teaching us a good Sales lesson. Although the competitor does not practice the technology we use, this incident has helped us to prepare better by considering solutions in other technologies.

The prospect first called me a month ago to demonstrate our capabilities to meet their requirements. I went to meet them to basically understand their expectations. Since they wanted to have a certain set of features on Day 1, we worked to come up with a proposal focussing only on those requirements. We set up a demo to showcase the standard features, followed by couple of more demos after they asked us to demonstrate our capabilities to quickly configure with different scenarios. We did all that was asked. Net result? They called us and told us that they have shortlisted another vendor to implement the solution in different technology! When asked for the feedback, we were told that other vendor was more proactive and had done homework of their business. It was a kind of blow since we had followed up with them and provided demos and visited their office whenever we were asked.

I then tried to analyze what went wrongsmiley. I can perhaps summarize it with below thoughts by well known personalities –

  • If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will.
  • I like to think of sales as the ability to gracefully persuade, NOT manipulate, a person or persons into a win-win situation.
  • Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman – NOT the attitude of the prospect.

I was trying to ensure that we are not overcommitting, at the same time, not manipulating either. We were very candid in sharing the details with the prospect and ensuring to give him a correct picture.

I remember showing slight discomfort when the prospect asked us to demo for the fourth time and enquired if we can include all stakeholders instead of repeating demo again. I later learnt that our competitor was all over our prospect in terms of agreeing to do anything that was required. In short, when we didn’t take care of our prospect, our competitor did, by converting a prospect to a customer! We have learnt a pretty neat lesson and would be taking necessary steps going forward. Nonetheless, we would not deviate from our core philosophy of being graceful and candid while doing sales. We did stumble, not fell down. I think it was worth stumbling thoughsmiley.

As Vince Lombardi said, ““The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That’s real glory. That’s the essence of it.”

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One Response to “Graceful v/s Manipulative Sales”

  1. Mike Bird May 3, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

    Painful lessons are often the most valuable. It looks to me that the key lesson here is that it is the customer who determines how they want to be treated. It is up to us (your “salesman’s attitude…”) to understand this proactively.

    Thanks for sharing your learning.

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