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What do you do when a B2B prospect complains that your sales team is too aggressive?

We are a B2B SaaS company. We have sales people who use email and phone (and Skype and SMS) to chase prospects and try ti get contracts signed.

Sometimes, we hear complaints from prospects that our sales force is being too aggressive (too many emails, phone calls, etc.). What are your best techniques for handling this? Do you rein in the rep? Back off that particular account? Switch reps on that account? Any suggestions appreciated!

10 Replies

Jonathan Ivanco
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Jonathan Ivanco Entrepreneur
Customer Journey Enthusiast
It means your reps don't understand the modern customer journey.

Depending on the product, you said SaaS, your reps don't understand the level of commitment and how to help your customers navigate it in steps and strides.

It is rare that a person only has to worry about finding a product to solve a problem (I'm not going to use value here, because I only really care about things that solve my problems, value is secondary and can usually be pushed off).

If I'm looking to solve a problem, I'd rather put it out there and have people compete for my business much the way we do with cars and insurance to be honest. There are 283 CRMs reviewed on Software Advice last time I checked, do I have time to go through all of them, nope. Do I have time to dig into 1 or 2 of them? Maybe, but I need to look at around 8. Problem, I have a job to do as well.

Do you want to talk to me during my work day, ha good luck.Basically, people follow this format now, Google, reviews, demo, support docs, then maybe a sales person. Sales people just suck, I know I was/am one, but it's not about you as the sales person, it's about helping the customer. Remember that, and maybe just maybe they should start every first contact with, "How do you like to evaluate products?"

You'd me amazed how far you get when you step back and make it about them instead of the close.

How I feel about most sales people kind of like the ones you are describing.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/stop-asking-call-me-jonathan-ivanco?trk=pulse_spock-articles

It's not hard, it just requires a bit of humanity and awareness.
Kyle Bailey
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Kyle Bailey Advisor
Managing Director at Frontburner Marketing, Speaker, Author
No offense, to Jonathan, but I could not disagree more. To say "this is how I feel about most salespeople" is an indicator that you don't really understand this question, or this world. You're reflecting your personal experience, and that's not how you plan in sales management. To say that because you're getting occasional complaints, this means that they or the manager doesn't understand the customer journey doesn't really make sense, because you haven't done enough investigation. It could be true, but to say for a fact that it is doesn't really work, I don't think.


As far as the original question, it depends on how many complaints you're getting.

If your reps are getting 1 out of 100 complaining, that's just statistical average. Cold calls are going to get complaints.

A complaint is always an opportunity. I take the "help me learn" tack. "Ms. Prospect, I'm the manager, and I received your email/message about our reps being too aggressive. I totally understand and want to understand better how to help my team reach out. Could we schedule a quick call where I can learn more about your process? We offer killer value, but definitely don't want to irritate anyone, and I'm hoping you can help me improve".

Complaints about high prices are an indicator that you're pricing correctly. Complaints about aggressive sales people (a few complaints, comparatively) are a sign that they are probably doing their job.

This assumes, of course, that you're training your team correctly, and they are not actually being obnoxious...lol. People are going to complain when you interrupt them, that's just human nature.

I'd robustly reassess my process, and make sure I'm offering value all the way up and down my contact chain, that all my content is high value, and that every time my reps are touching a prospect, it's not a banal contact. Training, Training, Training. What is your sales training process? Do you record and grade calls and emails, going over them with your team periodically?

Always Be Closing Adding Value.

I'd love to track with you on this. I love sales process talk!

Kyle Bailey
Barney Kramer
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Barney Kramer Entrepreneur • Advisor
Business Advisor, Executive, Trainer & Coach, Public Speaker,
Listen to them. From the way you worded your message, they may be right. Sales is about helping someone make a decision that benefits them because it fills a need or a want and not about getting them to sign a contract. If you have to push them to sign then you haven't established the value of what you are selling to your prospect. *What a program.* Anyone wanting to take their leadership to the next level really needs to check this out. It is great!!!!! It's an interactive, multi-media life-changing experience designed exclusively to forever change the way you SEE and GROW your career and businesses. Check it out here: http://smra1.com/seminars/new-leadership-paradigm *"Moving From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be Starts Here"* *S**incerely,* *Barney Kramer, President/CEO* *(209) 444-6549 phone* *www.smra1.com *
Thomas J. Kaled
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Thomas J. Kaled Advisor
Business Development Consultant @ thomas.kaled@gmail.com
@ Kyle Baileymakes many great points. I actually thought he'd ask the question foremost on my mind which is 'aside from the complaints, how are your reps doing at hitting their sales target?'...if they're knocking it dead...I'd say I'd follow Kyle's advice relative to 'a complaint is an opportunity' tac with the exception of keeping the apology separate from the attempt to resell...I'd reserve the right to revisit the issue with the prospect and put them back in the funnel...I'd also relegate this activity to the Sales Manager if you have one...

If they're at 80% of the target I would revisit how these complaints could move them to or closer to target and train for conversion of 'complaint to customer'...it may require some restructuring of the sales group (perhaps a 2nd chance group with a differing comp structure).

If they're at 50% (or less) you're team is going to require some sensitivity training (at very least) and probably some personnel replacement (most likely).
Ekaterina Sytcheva
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Ekaterina Sytcheva Entrepreneur
Integrated Marketing and Lead Generation Expert,Owner of Prospect Solutions.
I think it is because your sales people do not have enough leads and opportunities to sell. It is most probably because they do not have enough marketing and lead generation support, so they are desperate to survive and meet their sales quotas. I have written and number f articles about my personal experience in this situation. Please check it out :http://www.prospectsolutions.ca/sales-and-telemarketing-surviving-hunting-expedition/. I also have a blog for Lead Generation for SAashttp://www.prospectsolutions.ca/lead-generation-saas/
If you would like to chat about quick wins to generate more business, please let me know.
Brian Reale
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Brian Reale Entrepreneur
CEO / Founder ProcessMaker
I also totally disagree with Jonathan, but I think that Kyle and Thomas are spot on. You will absolutely get some complaints if you cold call. That is simply the nature of the game. Now, Ekaterina is also correct in pointing out that the reps might be pushing too hard on leads that are of a quality that is too low. However, it still might be worth it depending on your cost structure and your sales point. For some people, it is worth squeezing an already squeezed lemon to get those last few drops of juice. For others, it is not worth it. It all depends on your sales costs of operation and your ACV, etc.

Regarding Ekaterina's point, most modern CRM philosophies involve adding a Marketing Automation tool to your CRM funnel that qualifies the lead with a numeric value. These systems incubate those leads with low scores until they hit an acceptable thresh hold value of engagement at which point the lead is considered to be sufficiently "baked." When this happens, the marketing automation tool (examples - acton, marketo, pardot) "releases" the lead to the CRM so that your sales team is only focused on sufficiently warm leads.

Again, if your depending on the cost structure of your team, you should be able to determine exactly how long to bake the leads before releasing them to the CRM.
Ekaterina Sytcheva
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Ekaterina Sytcheva Entrepreneur
Integrated Marketing and Lead Generation Expert,Owner of Prospect Solutions.
Great point Brian. CRM is a great tool, but it is only s tool. Leads are people and reps are people and it all about human communication, need, supply and demand. Too much automation. May be deceiving and a cover up for a human to human quality interaction process.
Joseph Wang
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Joseph Wang Entrepreneur
Chief Science Officer at Bitquant Research Laboratories
Listen to them, but what happens depends on the type of industry you are in.

If you are in an industry that relies heavily on reputation, then you run the risk of annoying your current and future customers. This can happen if you are in an industry with say 100 customers and all of them talk to each other.

If you are in an industry that relies on going through a large number of low probability leads (i.e. telemarketing), then your issue is not so much annoying the customer, than your salesman are pursuing leads that are causing them to waste time and energy on leads that go nowhere.

Also, there is a conflict of interest here. Since I'm the customer, I don't want to suggest that you should just go ahead and keep annoying the customer. However, there are industries and situations in which annoying the customer is the optimal business strategy. You end up making a lot of people mad at you, but it turns out that you making money from the people that aren't.

At that point, you have to figure out whether being in that type of business really bothers you. If it does, and you stop doing it, then pretty quickly the business is going to be taken over by people that don't get bothered by this.
Kai Larson
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Kai Larson Entrepreneur • Advisor
Principal Consultant at SalesOnward
The short answer is, a few complaints here and there are a good thing. It means your salespeople are trying and pushing. If you get a lot of complaints you have a problem. Are the complaints associated with one or a few specific reps? Check in with, and train these people to not be too aggressive. If it is widespread, you likely have a bad list, and/or bad content that your audience does not find helpful/compelling.

If you have an appropriate, high touch campaign, you are working on a very good focused list, and you have created good, interesting content your audience should appreciate the attention. That said, you will always have people who will chafe at being "sold" to.

What you want is to make sure you have a sales management team who is engaged, interested and monitoring what is going on. You want senior folks training your junior folks on how to be helpful and not pushy and annoying. It takes time and work to learn how to be viewed as a consultant bringing good info vs. a salesperson just trying to make a buck.
Ekaterina Sytcheva
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Ekaterina Sytcheva Entrepreneur
Integrated Marketing and Lead Generation Expert,Owner of Prospect Solutions.
It may also be that you are hiring certain personalities for your sales staff. If you are primary seeking "hunters ", they will be aggressive. A hunter personally is so much involved in an adventure of the sales process, so they simply ignore the prospect' s situation and their rediness to buy. Training may help, but also HR strategies and job postings need to be adjusted.
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