January 22, 2012
Is there a lack of business etiquette today? Talking to business people over the past few years, I have noticed a trend that can best be described as lack of attention; individuals not paying attention during sales meetings. When combined with an ever demanding customer base, customers’ expectations can get out of hand very quickly. Seasoned sales people have told me that they will “stop” the meeting by asking the customer if this is a bad time and should they reschedule at a better time. I have yet to try this tactic, but I am keeping it my arsenal.
Nothing you or I can do will change poor etiquette during business meetings; we have to persevere in the face of this adversity. Sales people work very hard to get a meeting and don’t want to chance loosing an opportunity in front of the customer.
What should be done in order to protect yourself and the company you represent from unreasonable expectations or misunderstandings during a sales call?
- Always go over the documentation before the customer signs, especially if the customer has signed the documents and then emailed them to your attention. As exciting as it is to get the “deal” always take the time to go over the proposal line by line with the customer. Explain to your customer that it is part of the process and the order cannot be entered until this happens. Resist shortcuts!
- Voice documentation is very inexpensive these days. I recently had an instance where a customer demanded I provide a year of support, instead of what he purchased, which was a block of hours. Fortunately for all involved, the meeting was documented using a Livescribe pen. The recording was provided to the customer and this eliminated any potential animosity between organizations.
- If you have the resources, bring another person from your organization to the sales call. An additional person can help to read the customer’s reaction giving you the best chance of overcoming objections. More importantly, this individual can let you know where potential points of miscommunication occur.
- If things do get dicey with a customer, it is always best to arrange a meeting, in person, with all parties involved. It is much easier to assert unreasonable and not agreed upon terms over the phone or via email.
I would be interested to hear if you have had similar experiences. If you have any suggestions for working through these difficult situations please let me know.