A British Disease

Having managed to sell beyond the shores of my birthplace, I’ve long held the belief that if you can sell in Blighty, you can make it anywhere.  The reason for this, is that the people left behind on our tiny islands tend to be, unlike the winners that colonised the globe, totally unreceptive to new ideas.

One manifestation of this comes with initial qualification.  Picture the scene, you think you’ve ID’d a suitable prospect, so give them a call to find out the name of the right person to approach.  In more than half the occasions in the UK, when asking for a name, the receptionists will say “we don’t give out names”, as it’s “not company policy”.

This has wound me up for years.  The first time I tried to sell in South Africa, I selected 10 suitable firms from the web.  I called all ten up to find the name of their head of sales.  In the UK, around 4 would tell me.  In this case, it was all 10 that happily supplied names.

There is a way around such nonsense.  You can ask to speak to a department direct, and hope a random person will furnish further.  You can try a high-ranking PA.  Or indeed, if you sell to sales teams like I do, you can speak to the sales people, and at the very worst, ask how they would handle such an objection 😉

And this reminds of me of a time I myself was involved in buying some software for my business.  No-one seemed to split the final two vendors up.  When my opinion was canvassed, I was satisfied either could do the job, so to decide I called both up.  I asked whoever picked up the phone for the name of the person heading up sales there.  One said “no names, company policy”, the other kindly gave the details.  Guess which supplier won the order.

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