John Davies is a senior corporate partner at leading commercial law firm Thrings. As a TBE columnist, John regularly addresses a topical news or business-related issue. This time John has to let off some steam.
A minor grumble from me this time.
Everyone in business needs to sell. Whether you’re in manufacturing, financial services, professional services, retail, construction, whatever – one way or another businesses need to sell. I get that. What I don’t get, however, is the way in which some businesses go about it.
Good selling requires effort, understanding, relationship and nuance. It’s a skill and if you get it right it can be the best part of any job. What amazes and annoys me in equal measure is how much bad selling goes on. And when I say bad selling, I actually mean no selling.
How many times have you been tapped up on LinkedIn by someone with no history or background of what you do and had an attempted sale thrust upon you? How many times have you been sitting at your desk when the phone rings and a salesperson goes straight into generic patter about what you may or may not need. In the last few days alone apparently I’ve ‘needed’ a new telephone system, shutter garage doors (we’re a law firm!), tickets to the Monaco Grand Prix and public speaking training. Even worse, the public speaking salesperson used a business name that we’ve not used for more than 15 years. Well played, Einstein.
I’m a corporate lawyer. I’m not in purchasing. I’m not an IT manager. I’m not responsible for training courses. I look after the legal needs of my clients. I’m also the son of a Welsh Baptist so I have the weakness of being polite to strangers. Why then when I’ve explained (politely) that they’ve got the wrong guy do the sales folk carry on regardless?
It’s an increasing problem. We’ve all got websites. We’ve all got contact details on those sites and I guess to some businesses that makes you fair game. To all those people who do this, come on, you can do better. Put some effort in. Do your research. Understand what the business you’re trying to sell to does – at the very least know its name. I can assure you that if you phone me cold, get the name of my business wrong, get what my business does wrong and try to sell me something, I’m never going to bite.
I have, however, forged a polite plan to get my own back. I’ve started asking callers and some emailers if they would like a will or a quote for conveyancing or any other legal service for that matter. What amazes me is how annoyed these people get – it’s a massive irony as all I’m doing is mirroring what they’ve just done to me. One or two have even questioned my parentage before slamming the phone down! Nice. But a great result for me nonetheless.
So if you’re selling something, take it seriously. Do your research. Understand your target audience. If you don’t get the desired result – please play nicely rather than having a rant.
Talking of which, that’s the end of mine.
By the way, if you’re thinking of buying or selling a business or a company, give me a shout 😉
t: 01793 412634