By Chuck Sink
The day before a recent holiday which many love to celebrate, I wanted to ordersomething nice for my wife so I called the store of one of my networking contacts. This store owner and I had developed a typically nice networking relationship. One of the topics we’ve talked about is email marketing, something she knows I do for clients. Early in the day of my call I got an e-blast from her business and it made me pick up the phone to order from her.
I knew the store would be busy just before this holiday and I was doing what new customers do. Call ahead, ask about options and place an order for pick up. I asked for my contact by name and the person who answered was a bit stiff and guarded asking “Is she expecting your call?” My answer was no. “Hold on a minute.”
The owner got on the phone and I stated who I was. “Oh, hi Chuck.” Her tone was rushed. I said. “Hey, like we talked about before, email marketing works! I got your e-blast this morning and it prompted me to call.” Then she said, “Chuck, it’s the day before Valentines Day! We are super busy here! Can you call back another time?” I knew at that point she assumed I was making a sales call to her. I followed with, “Yes it is and I need to order a bouquet for my wife.” Then, realizing I was a customer instead of a salesman the conversation turned to business, became more friendly and there was a happy ending. I bought a couple of nice things for my wife – more than what I set out to buy – and felt good about patronizing a networking contact’s business. But I didn’t forget about the initially cool response to my call.
This experience stuck with me because there’s a pointed lesson here. Treat everyone, including sales reps, with kindness and respect.
Did you know that people who sell for a living buy a lot of stuff just like anyone else? Most business owners are the top salespeople for their firms. And did you know that many sales professionals are excellent referral sources for their prospects as well as their customers?
Most professional salespeople are respectful of their prospects’ time and avoid wasting it. Treat them like the fellow professionals they are. Avoid the assumption they’re always looking to clean out your wallet or waste your time. They might just be your next new customer. They might even refer the biggest sale you ever made – to you!