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Ending Relationships Can Be As Important as Maintaining Them

This is a topic I have written about before, ending relationships. Two long term relationships ended with clients recently, they already were replaced - at least short term.

1. A two year relationship ends with an email, no phone call, on July 3rd - right before the holiday. Nice.

2. The other ended thusly. A call came from my "supervisor" or "vendor manager" who essentially stated that they are "suspending the engagement resulting from changes in the company and that if they were to engage an 'independent contractor' again, they would consider me". First, after two years of working with the company and being one of the few who actually was able to generate demos from phone calls, I thought I deserved a little better than "an independent contractor" status. How about - if we need help again or resume an outbound effort, we will be sure to call you. So, I told her OK, can I work to the end of the month to which the client agreed. Long story short, I sped through all my remaining calls, frantically calling everyone I had contact with to reduce a long list of calls outstanding. As I was doing so, I recorded stuff in the CRM tool, but NOT EXACTLY the way it was mandated to be done. For the billionth time, I received another NAGGING call from her indicating that I wasn't recording things exactly to the "T" they wanted - to which I explained the situation and as I was doing so, a call I expected to come in - came in - so I told her, I couldn't discuss this further and hung up to take the other call. The call was critically important regarding a deal for another client, a new client I was working with. And, this client had made it a point to NAG the SHIT out of me regarding recording stuff in the CRM.

The next afternoon, my phone rang - I missed the call - I went into the CRM and there was a message stating that the administrator changed things and I couldn't log in anymore. I was stunned! Turned out the call was from my client, one of the owners, who wanted to give me a "heads up". Net out- he stated that the "vendor manager" was angry and upset because "I wasn't following process" so she terminated the log in.

I calmly explained the situation and said that up until then I was clearly "following process" and as a 1099 (in their words 'independent contractor') legally I did not have to follow any mandated process. The crux of it was, I didn't link my task notes to an opportunity (which there were no opportunities - since there were no leads associated - they were just calls or touches). I didn't link my task (left vm) to an opportunity - which there wasn't an opportunity, since there was no discussion or need defined. Understand this.

After we talked, he said, just put it on ice - forget it for now. Contact them in the Fall as they may resume outbound. Sure.

Probably not though and why?

1. My contract states written two week notice, the client agreed to allow work until the end of the month. They cut my CRM access without telling me and ended the engagement against both contractual and integrity based notation.

2. I had some leads in that CRM and people who I had spoken with, I was unable to properly end those relationships and transition the leads accordingly. Not cool in my book.

3. They ended the engagement because they hired some college kids to take over and used me to do work that they admitted was basic. They were not honest with me in what they were doing - why not tell me upfront that I was being used to execute these tasks until they hired full time people and that the engagement may end.

I value honesty and integrity in my dealings with people and believe my clients should as well. Of the three things listed above the most disturbing to be is point 2, thinking college kids can equal what I do is beyond belief also - but they can learn, like my other client did who called me six months and thousands of dollars later.

Permalink 08/04/12 -- 06:22:30 pm, Categories: Announcements [A]

You, Rachel, Are a Lousy Salesperson

"You, Rachel, are a Lousy Salesperson" were words that were actually uttered - twice - now by a long time client and a person who I view as a friend. I took his company from zero clients and no prospects, to over 70 users nationally and growing - that number would be a LOT more, if the economic environment weren't so lousy. Hurt at first, given this accomplishment, he further clarified his point.

"You are a great marketer, one of the best. You are fantastic at identifing client needs and fitting the solution to exactly what they need. And you present things in such a way that evokes interest so that they want to see what we have. But, you don't know how to sell. See, real salespeople are aggressive and they sell to people stuff they don't want or need and that you don't do. You don't sell ice to Eskimos. You don't hunt and kill and move on to the next one. "

The context in which this was stated was at the end of a prospect evaluation for a piece of software where it was evident that one part of the software was what the prospect needed, but that the other part was clearly not as much, if at all, a need. In listening to the prospect, he clearly outlined what he wanted, needed, and expected - which one software did, but not the other. That is what I pointed out to the customer who validated it. The prospect was very much interested in the aspect of the software I pointed out, not so hot on the other. It could result in a sale.

Well, I told my client/friend/prospective future boss, I said - if you believe in that and have that attitude, you will be out of business in a year with a terrible reputation. Not to mention, the horrible halo that will surround your company. I cannot, I will not, ever sell something to someone that they don't need or want and will never encroach on my reputation or that of the company in that manner. I told him about the $100K+ salesguys who were utter assholes that fit that mold and suggested looking at commission salespeople, since I am such a great marketer who generates a pipeline of Qualified leads. Yah, yah - can't afford someone like that, can't find those guys.

After coming back from the meeting, I thought about what he said. I am glad I am a "lousy salesperson" who has ethics and morals and wants to help clients get what they really need. I looked up the definition of consultative salesperson which pretty much fit the description of what my client stated about me and smiled.

By the way, he isn't the only one. There are many idiotic people out there who stereotype salespeople and think that pushy aggressive selling is the way to generate revenue. Until the sales profession gets beyond that, it will never be taken seriously or get much further than "used car salesman" status.

Permalink 08/04/12 -- 06:01:03 pm, Categories: Announcements [A]

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