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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How business appears to have changed

Today I went on a pre-arranged appointment at 11 o'clock. On arrival I was told that the partners were too busy to see me. A client has just dropped in and they'd been able to fit her in! I'd have to come back. Could I leave some information. "Yes I have your number so I'll arrange a new time on Friday!!"

Now I think I'm well mannered and not forceful in any way. The appointment was made by phone and I was asked when could I call to discuss the proposition. So I was really there by request.

Is the old courtesy of calling up to change an appointment gone?

Last week I visited a local business to give a presentation. It went well and the director asked for a quote so he could talk it through with his co-director (no! I don't know when I'll see him). After several unsuccessful calls back I was told he was in "just a minute, I'll see if he's free" shortly the guy came back with "He's not interested!" Now I can understand that if I'd cold canvassed an unknown company but no. This was someone I was on more than nodding terms with. Shouldn't he have spoken to me, no matter how briefly, and told me himself. At least I'd have found out why. And probably felt a bit better.

Is the old courtesy of telling bad news personally gone? I understand that texting is now used to fire or make staff redundant. Is this the new way?

A couple of weeks ago I had the last of 3 appointments with another business person. The first appointment was denied when I called? The second was a waiting game. I waited 38 minutes why he attended to a custommer who came in just behind me. Meanwhile 3 sales assistants stood by and waited for customers!! On the 3rd appointment I drove to town, parked up and went into the retailer. He wasn't there. "He's gone to Cardiff" I got an assistant to call him on hios mobile. "Something cropped up and I had to come to Cardiff". That's a 40 minute journey so wouldn't a phone call have been in order?

I write this because it seems that attitudes have changed. E-mail and texting are altering the way we do business. I guess I've been brought up to beleive in relationship selling, that it takes more than a quick glance over a website before spending money on something that may not actually be right. I believe that we buy from people and that our first impressions (right or not) generally are important: but it takes more than a first glance to build up a relationship. 

Is selling thought of as old hat? The amazing thing about all three scenarios above is that each was with the top man in a retail business. What do they think when someone doesn't arrive for an appointment with them? Do they charge a "no show"? I spoke with a letting agent just last month and he had 12 out of 19 appoinments fail on one weekend. 

I've had about 40 years selling experience and run quite large sales-forces. I've trained sales-people for major companies and have been national sales and national trade sales managers. I have created businesses and been successf. My customers over the years have includeda whole range from small one-man enterprises to the BBC, Marks & Spencer, BHS, BP and Shell, 27 local authorities, major hotel chains police authorities and many more. So I have had some experience. It;'s not as if I've blustered in and  forced myself or tried high pressure selling. hese experiences have been a surprise.

Now despite all of this I have found that most appointments work. That there is still plenty of good manners and business form around. And despite the recession which is biting hard right now for many  there is business out there. I am pleased with the business I've written up in just the last month. 

I'm off to Cardiff and Bristol during the coming month and will be telling you about my sales experiences there. I feel there will be a change as the pond gets bigger.

Your comments are really appreciated. I'd love to hear from you. 

Since writing this late morning I have had two really good appointments, both culminating in sales for services, not products, with a high value so I feel that I'm doing something right. And to make matters even better I've had a phone call and two texts supporting and agreeing with my experiences. Small ponds big problems. 

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