Sunday, September 23, 2012

What Happened to "I'm Sorry?"

I'm in the very hot industry of Ecommerce; one that is growing substantively and changing constantly.  And those two things drive a lot of innovation, not only for consumers, but also for businesses.  As such, there is always someone trying to sell me a new service or technology that will drastically change our business.

And I do mean always.  On average, I take 5 direct solicitations from sales people every day, and another 10 that come in via email.  Every work day.  That's a lot of sales pressure.

Most sales people are extremely hard working and ethical.  They are respectful of my time.  They're not trying to be interrupting or rude, they're just trying to make a buck in a really tough economy.  And in recognizing this, I try to be polite and fair in dealing with them.  Given a change in circumstances, our roles could easily be reversed, and I try and treat them like I would like to be treated.

However, there are some sales techniques that I don't appreciate.  These include:
  • Telling me they are a "friend" of an executive in our company
  • Cold calling by booking a blind meeting in Outlook (this happens at least once a month)
  • Lots of Asian tech firms use call centers that employ folks that have very little grasp of English, and have a lot of trouble of accepting "no" as an answer
  • Telling me I'm "blowing it" because my competitor uses them, they're going to save me a ton of money, or their product is God's gift to Ecommerce.  I love this one - buy from me or you're stupid
Of all the techniques, the one that sets me off the most is the one in which the sales person carpet bombs our "C" suite executives with the same bulk email.  The hope is that the CEO, or someone else, will be so intrigued with the solicitation that the edict will come down to make me research it.  It is always done under the auspices of "I don't know who at your company is in charge of Ecommerce..." and that always kills me.  A simple Google search or LinkedIn search of my company's name and Ecommerce always points to me.  Clear as day.

Anyway, here is an example of the carpet bombing method - the names have been changed to protect the innocent:
Hi CSuite Executive,

I wanted to drop you a quick note to introduce myself and my firm, Scumbag Corp, as the end of the year is rapidly approaching and I’m sure you’ve been discussing planning for 2013.

To give you some context, Scumbag Corp is a brand eCommerce and digital solutions firm that helps organizations including Grainger, Wal-Mart, and Discover visualize future state strategies, implement/integrate web-technologies, and create engaging user experiences.

I wanted to coordinate a conversation with you to further share our story and learn more about the business objectives driving your digital programs.

Do you have time next week for a brief conversation?

Lazy Sales Person
That prompted an email from CSuite executive to me to follow up with Lazy Sales Person and turn them down.  Here's what I sent:
Dear Lazy Salesperson,
I'm your contact.
We're locked down - please contact me after the first of the year.
Please cease contacting any other of my company's executives
YDP, VP Ecommerce
Three days later, Lazy Sales Person reaches out to CSuite Executive, letting her know she'd still like to set up a time to talk.  CSuite Executive sends something back to Lazy Sales Person that the project has been handed off to me, and that she's sure that I'd reach out to them shortly. 
By now, I'm furious.  I don't like to look bad, and I certainly don't have time to work on crap like this.  Hence, I decided to play the "executive carpet bomb" card against Lazy Sales Person - I went to LinkedIn, looked up Scumbag Corp, found the most senior executive I could, and CC'd them on this note:
Lazy Sales Person,
Per my email last Friday I politely asked you to cease contacting my company's executives. See below for the email I sent you.
You ignored that and emailed our Chief Merchandising Officer again. See the attached. That makes me look like I'm not doing my job, which is not appreciated.
Mr. X Senior Executive Scumbag Corp,
I don't appreciate cold contacts that are directed at the "C' level without any kind of homework being done as to who owns the digital channel. I also don't appreciate having my polite requests being ignored. If you could find a way to remove my company from all Scumbag Corp solicitations, I would appreciate it.
YDP, VP Ecommerce
My hope was that Mr. X would have a stern conversation with Lazy Sales Person.  And maybe I'd get an apology. 
Here's what I got instead:
I agree that my inside sales team did not play this well. We have built a great business focusing on this channel exclusively. We train our sales people to understand a clients key metrics and areas for growth in advance of detailed conversations.
I'll make sure that Lazy Sales Person stops contacting you and your organization. If you'd like to have a strategic discussion about where e commerce is going and what we are seeing, feel free to reach out to me directly.
Mr. X, EVP Scumbag Corp
What is it that people can't say a simple, "Wow - what a lousy experience you had.  I'm sorry?" 
Not only did I not get any kind of apology, but I got a veiled "You're blowing it..." shot as well.
Guess who will never, ever buy from Scumbag Corp, regardless of how good they are?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to include any thoughts you may have. Know, however, that kiddos might be reading this, so please keep the adult language to yourself. I know, for me to ask that language is clean is a stretch...