A few years ago I met a local business coach/consultant at a local business workshop. Like many more ‘salesy’ (not that there’s anything wrong with that) business operators, he suggested we “do coffee” to see how we could assist each other in our respective businesses.
Or so I thought.
Instead I endured 90 minutes of the guy’s prattling on about how great he was, what he could do for my business and how he was going to do it.
If this was supposed to be a win/win meeting, I just couldn’t see where I necessarily won, particularly given the fees he was indicating.
I’d come across these types a long time ago, usually selling insurance. I also thought they were extinct.
The not so great escape
Somehow I managed to extract myself from the guy and promised myself to be far more vigilant when agreeing to a “coffee catchup” whenever I was invited to do so in future.
But just last week, I went to another local workshop and there he was again. Despite his failure last occasion, he wanted to catch up again. But this time he mumbled something about needing a new website.
Fair enough, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. If there was any sign of repeat behaviour, I’d just excuse myself and give him short shrift.
Silly move really – it was just the same meeting replayed over again.
Out of control
I looked at his business card. No website. No email address. Just promises of the tens of thousands he could make for me – clearly a technique designed to keep you in touch with him in person or by phone to “keep me hot” or whichever other sales technique he was using.
The problem for him is, like so many today, I just don’t do business that way.
If you want my business, you need to do much more than use your well-rehearsed sales techniques on me.
Show me the evidence
I want to see documented evidence of your results. I want to see genuine testimonials. And I want to be contacted, not at the time you want to see or phone me, but via email so I can give your sales pitch the priority I want to give it.
I don’t think I’m unusual in these requirements. Most of my own customers seem to want the same thing of me.
So as a last resort I tried his LinkedIn profile. There lay a cigar, but not a very useful one. More of a used, burnt stub really as there was no employment history or endorsements whatsoever.
Instead just a spiel on how great he was and the results he claimed to have achieved.
Last I heard from him he was trying to tee up another time to chat. I told him to email me his proposal. I’ve heard nothing since.
The good news about these promoters is that they are dying off. Only the gullible will accept the kind of stunt this salesman tried to pull.
If you want to do business with people these days, a website with as much evidence of the quality of your work – no matter what field it’s in – is simply critical.
As is communicating with the customer the way they want to be communicated with, not the way you do.
Backing your claims
A website not only provides some evidence of your capabilities, but it provides some assurance in the event things go pear-shaped.
Because your website provides documented evidence that you can do what you say you can instead of so much fresh air. As do emails.
Not to mention the free leads that search engines provide when they present your website to the prospect. Or the free list the website generates when prospects sign up to receive your emails.
Of course, old fashioned sales folk hate this because it gives control back to the customer. They can’t just do what the textbooks tell them and manage to persuade their prey to sign the dotted line like they once could.
And the business world is a much better place as a result.
In a way I feel sorry for the chap. I’m sure that there are many other sales he has lost due to his reliance on antiquated sales and persuasion techniques.
But he can email me when he finally sees the light.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.