Before I begin, I want to be clear. I truly appreciate and value good salespeople. It’s a hard job. We have to deal with “difficult” customers and a lot of rejections. So, most times, I will 100% be on the side of the salesperson – unless it was this past Monday. Oh lord, where to begin. 

A week and a half ago I was interviewing a marketing professional. We were discussing different tactics for ensuring quality control of marketing collateral. She mentioned a software to me. I was interested in this content management system, so I looked up their website. It looked like an interesting tool that could potentially help our organization. I had been on multiple pages of their website, I had watched videos and clicked through different diagrams, until I finally submitted the contact us form. Now you know this was serious when I actually used my own name when submitting the form. They also gave me the ability to select a date and time for a DEMO (there is a reason I have capitalized this word, more on that later.) I was going out of town, so I scheduled it for the first day I was back. I invited multiple team members to the event. 

Whether this was a marketing issue or lack of follow up on the salesperson, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that a workflow did not work, but there was no invite in my calendar. They sent me a follow up e-mail reminding me about the webinar. I reached out and asked where the link and time was for the demo. The individual called me and said they would be sending me the invite shortly. Thirty minutes later I still have no invite. OK, mistakes happen. I asked my EA to create the invite for the appropriate time and invite people from the link that he shared in his original e-mail. Now I have eight different team members joining this call. We all can’t get in because he sent us the wrong zoom link. Five minutes later, we e-mail him for the appropriate zoom link. He finally sends us another link. No worries, still keeping my cool, things happen. The software is still a good tool and I want the team to really buy into it. 

Finally, we get on the call. We are already 5 minutes late and we only have 30 minutes for this demo. He starts by asking us how many of us can stay for 45 minutes versus the 30, and I clarified that we will see how many people can stay and let’s get started. I asked him for an overview of the product. 

Lesson 1: Any good salesperson should be able to tell you what their product does within 30 seconds. No ifs, ands or buts. We wasted 5 minutes on him opening up a slide deck to walk us through some content. Now I understand the system can create content, lovely. It’s based on science – you had me at hello. I’m showing all of the right buying signs, I’ve brought enough team members to this call, we are interested. But our clock is ticking, and we still haven’t understood what the product is. I stopped the presentation for a moment and I say “David, let me be clear, I would like you to please do a demo of your product and explain overall what it does for marketing teams.” I was pretty clear, he started to say that his tool was a nice to have, not a necessity, and still, he did not explain what the tool did. I stepped in and explained to my team that it was a content management system that would allow us to ensure all our content was consistent with brand, with the flexibility to share and customize content amongst multiple teams, with analytics in the back end. 

Now, by this point I’m getting frustrated. I have clearly asked him to please do a demo of his product. His response? Well, this is the product. Now, I know for a fact they have a platform, there’s a login screen, there is a place to make the content, there’s analytics behind all of this content, because the website has already told me all of this. I asked him kindly, is there another sales individual that would be able to assist us in trying to understand this better obviously we’re not communicating with each other effectively. We really are interested in this product and so we’d like to see it more in-depth. I’d like to set up another call, because time is of the essence, and perhaps a manager can come and, in the meantime, could you please send us a video or a demo of this product. His response – I can send you a video of this call!!!!!!!! Now, by this point he had gotten snippy with us, and honestly, I had sold his product better than he had. There was no point in staying on this call. But there were a lot of lessons learned for us, that I’d like to share with all of you leaders that have salespeople. 

  1. Make sure all your salespeople know your 30 second elevator pitch – it needs to be clear and concise. 
  2. If you have a SaaS product, each of your salespeople should be able to do a demo of that product. And if not, there should be someone who is on that call with you to do the demo. Don’t waste people’s time. 
  3. If you can tell that perhaps you are not connecting well with the prospect, always bring in someone else. This was a zoom meeting, pinging someone on the side asking them to join would have been helpful. Obviously, we were asking questions that were beyond the salesperson ‘s grasp. Respectfully saying that you would bring in a product manager or a sales manager to the next call and can we reschedule would be another option. 
  4. Never get snippy on a call. It’s hard to get prospects. If you don’t get along with them, no worries, lobby the call over to another team member. But don’t waste the lead. 
  5. If you are booking a demo, there should be an actual demo of the product. This is not you talking the entire time. We are asking to spend our time to look at your tool. I understand, you need to pre-qualify us, no worries, but when you have already spent 20 minutes of your time and we have not even looked at the tool, it is not a demo. 
  6. Always QA your calls when a lead does not move forward, in this instance, I did ask for a follow up call with a sales manager, however this sales individual decided to inform us that the call was the only demo we would receive. That their tool was a nice to have, but not a necessity – OMG!! 

Now, yes, this left a bad taste in our mouth, and I will be looking at other solutions that do the exact same thing. The unfortunate piece of this entire situation is that I was ready to buy and the salesperson did not read all of my buying signals, was too caught up in his own ego to ask for help, and thereby ended up losing a deal for the organization. And we were going to be the enterprise package.  

The good thing to come out of this situation is that we know exactly what to make sure our team members never do. Effective training of your sales team is critical for any company. They should all be champions of your products, know exactly what it does, have a process for asking for help, and understand the value of a qualified lead. At the end of the day, I sold the tool better than he did, and it’s unfortunate that in this instance, the Turtl did not win the race.  

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