Be Wary Of Pre-Qualification

The British Disease strikes again.  When I maintain during conversations with anyone born beyond the shores of my homeland that if they can sell in the UK, then they can sell anywhere, this is one of those kinds of stories I recount to prove it.

My cold call resource explained to me how long finding suspects can take.  What we sell is unfortunately not suited to traditional ‘list-buying’ in the hunt for names, so we build our own database.  I happened to mention how long I consider the task should take, given my personal experience when setting up that particular business eight years ago.

Apparently, when they try and qualify on the phone, they have delivered a statement that encapsulates the qualities of our target market.  A simple example would be “our customers have between 3 and 103 reps…” Yet they often get the interruption, “we’ve only got 2, bye!”

For a while they thought ‘oh, well’ and moved to the next name.  Yet the revelation is that they’ve been fibbed to.  When the name’s cropped up through a different route and been unknowingly re-phoned, someone else has picked up the phone and stated that the requisite number of reps are indeed in place.  The original contact was merely lying to get us off the phone.

Incredible.  How can such people expect their own salesforce to succeed in such a scenario?  I used to suffer all sorts of painful attitudes when I cleaned my own lists.  In the UK the real outrage is when people (typically on switchboards) state “it’s the policy not to give out information”.  This is a disgrace.

I often tell the story how when faced with a purchase decision, my management team came to me asking for a deciding vote when two shortlisted vendors were considered evens.  I called both up myself and asked their receptionist our database-clean questions.  The one that I wrote the cheque for happily gave me the info, the others didn’t.  I wonder if the loser ever got to know what swung it away?

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