How NOT to Make a First Sales Call on a Long-Time Client

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How NOT to Make a First Sales Call on a Long-Time Client

In business-to-business (B2B) marketing, the sales representative’s relationship with the customer drives sales and referrals.

But when a trusted rep moves on and a new one is assigned to a long-time client, there’s potential for big trouble if the transition is handled poorly.

Case in point: I recently met with a new sales rep from a company I’ve done business with for more than a decade. In less than 20 minutes, he managed to break six cardinal rules of effective customer relationship management and came very close to jeopardizing a long-term business partnership.

Here’s where this salesperson went wrong and what you can learn from his mistakes for your smart marketing strategy.

A First Sales Call Goes South Fast

My marketing consulting firm in Cleveland, Ohio has been a client of a large company for more than 10 years. Though this vendor recently was acquired by a competitor, we remained loyal. Our former representative was promoted and a new rep assigned to our account.

Unfortunately, his first meeting with us was a disaster because he made six crucial sales mistakes:

  1. Taking too long to reach out to us: Reassuring existing clients is essential if your company is in transition. Our new representative was assigned to our account several months ago, but only recently met us face to face.
  2. No credentials: Who was this guy and why was he qualified to take the place of our prior account manager? The new rep didn’t present his experience or qualifications.
  3. Failing to research our company before the meeting: Our new rep had many opportunities to become knowledgeable about us before walking in our door, including at a minimum, visiting our website. He knew little about our marketing agency and we had to educate him on what we do.
  4. Limited understanding of our relationship with his company: Despite having access to more than 10 years of our client data, he appeared to know only the basics about our relationship with his firm.
  5. No plan to cross-sell:  This salesperson should have thought about our potential needs before meeting with us and been prepared to recommend a new, problem-solving service. Instead, he offered nothing new.
  6. No next steps: Our rep had no suggestions about a next contact as the meeting concluded. “I’m here if you need me,” he said. We might, but given his performance, we might not.

Next post: What a new sales rep SHOULD do: 10 tips for a great transition

  • Craig

    Sounds like somebody sleepwalking through their job…

    I sometimes get sales leads and check out their websites, search on any individual names that are provided to me to find them on LinkedIn etc. before I make a call. Sometimes folks tell me ‘here is our website address…’ and I say ‘I’m on it now’. They seem surprised! How is that NOT the first thing that a person does?

    April 6, 2011 at 5:30 pm
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