Does Anti-Social Selling have its place?

“Do you guys not have clients?”

That was the point where he lost me. Actually more like the point where some rude sentences scrolled across my mind.

“Uh yes, dude, we have clients!” I’m the marketing director here. “What do you think I do all day? Sit around and play with my Scrabble set?” (OK, some other words we’re in my mind but this a ‘”family blog.”)

So this is how you follow up on inbound leads. I’ve been thinking about the best approaches to that recently. The approaches to this vary and this approach had not occurred to me.

I had registered to listen to a webinar. The content of the webinar seemed very “Sales 2.0″ to me. It was all about metrics around lead generation. The webinar promised that these metrics were derived from analyzing thousands of real life sales calls and deriving the best practices.

It sounded impressive to me. To fess up I haven’t listened to the webinar yet so I don’t know if it really is impressive but I still have it on my list of things to do.

But before I could get to the webinar I got a follow up email from one of the company’s sales reps. “You signed up for our webinar on xxx. We wanted to learn more about your business and vice-versa, see if we can help out in any way. What are your thoughts on taking 15 min to chat?”

OK I liked the wording of this email too. Open-minded, open to discussion. Sounded like there was a decent chance I was going to get value out of a call not just be sold to. This seemed like a good approach to webinar follow up to me and it made me think this was a company that had its act together. A nice content rich webinar as an offer than a “light touch” email to follow up that also seemed to add value. Impressive.

So I was feeling a little guilty a couple of weeks later when I got a third follow up email from the company’s sales rep requesting a call. I mean these guys seemed to really want to add value, perhaps I’d go as far as saying they really want to help me. By this point their approach had been so good I did want to speak to them. I was even open to “partnering” with them in some way. I could not guarantee I was going to buy their product but if figured I may be able to help somehow.

I like to be a straight shooter and I like salespeople. So I try to give every salesperson the scoop–at least the ones that like and can get around to replying to. You see I believe our time as salespeople is our most valuable resource. I like to inform salespeople before they spend their valuable time with me what the real situation is.

So before we spoke I thought I’d help this salesperson by telling him the real situation. I knew my employer would not be buying this company’s product in the short term. There was no way we  would need something like this in 2014.

On the other hand I’m not a one-dimensional bloke. As you know I put a fair bit of effort and passion into this blog to help sales people (and their companies) sell better. I was impressed by this company’s approach and given their product it appeared to me that they would want to reach salespeople, sales managers and marketing people. The type of people that read this blog.

Some people might even call me an “influencer” in this space. I know quite a few of the other people who write about sales and so I can often connect companies like this to other people that have a bigger following than me.

So I emailed this sales rep. “I don’t see anyway my (media) company is I going to buy your product this year but I’d be ok talking to you guys since I like what you’re up to. Probably makes more sense for you personally to connect me to your marketing colleagues so we can talk about how my blog can help you guys. Then down the road when we know each other through this effort who knows if the timing here at the media company will have changed enough so we need your kind of product.”

The response came 3 mins later via email. “We’ll I’d be ok having someone talk to you about your personal blog but I’m sure your firm should get our product [now]. Let’s talk about that.”

My response 3 mins later. “Actually there really is no way our media company will buy such a product [now] but I would like to see if I can help through my blog.”

2 mins later: “You see any company with clients needs our product. It’s so good.”

My response:”I’m not sure you heard me. My senior management will not pay for something like this in 2014″

2 mins later, “I don’t understand. Do you guys not have clients?”

This company’s brand just went from impressive to shoddy in my mind in those 10 mins of emailing. Now I’m not sure I ever want to talk to them.

This was anti-social selling to the max.

This rep basically told me buy now or go…

He also told me he did not really care if something benefited his company. He told me he did not care if his marketing department got help. He only cares if he makes his quota this year.

I have not listened to this webinar yet. I’m still interested in what metrics this company’s research has uncovered. I’m now guessing one of them must be if you don’t close now then you never will. Or maybe it’s that salespeople should never nurture contacts that don’t buy now.

What do you think? Should salespeople nurture relationships? Should they focus only on the deals they can close now and not get involved in anything else, even passing on contacts to other departments? Should salespeople stay away from being social and focus on dollars?

Should they sell like The Wolf of Wall Street?  (At the end of the movie he’s a sales trainer.)

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