Sales Call Etiquette - Do Your Homework

The life of an online media professional is constantly interrupted by cold calls from sales reps looking to build a relationship. These types of calls are necessary and can be very useful as well, as we all know you've got to start somewhere to build a relationship. But from time to time, it is very important for the media side to give some feedback to the sales side. This week I felt it necessary to give one piece of feedback. My advice? Do your homework!

There have been two instances in the last 3 weeks where I received a cold call from a sales person who left a message on my voicemail without doing their homework. Since I return everyone's calls in order to get them on the path of the correct person to speak to, I returned these calls as well. Let me give you a little snippet of the conversation that ensued...

Cory: Hello, this is Cory Treffiletti from Carat returning your call.

Salesperson: Hi Cory. What company did you say you were with again?



Cory: Carat Interactive. You left a message on my voicemail.

Salesperson: Right. Thanks for calling back. (Stumble) Who are your clients again?

Cory: I'm sorry, but you left a voicemail for me asking about _____ and _____.

Salesperson: Right, Right. I wanted to tell you about the reselling opportunities that I have for a number of remnant ad networks. I can get you prices lower than what you are already paying.

Cory: Do you know what my clients are trying to do or what we are currently paying? Any insight into our current strategy?

Salesperson: No, not really, but I'm sure we can make them work here.

Cory: Why don't you call our Media Director and speak to him about the various programs we are running and see if there's a fit.

Salesperson: Ok... so what do you do at Carat?

And on and on for about another 30 seconds until I told him to do his homework. This is an example of a very poor sales call. In the end he was trying to pitch us on buying placements that we were already purchasing direct from the company as opposed to a reseller like himself. I eventually called the company directly and told them their resellers were making them look bad and they needed to look out. They agreed and proceeded to let me know they don't have any control over who resells their product, which boggled my mind.

Salespeople on the publishers' side are no different than Salespeople on the agency side. We need to do our homework, understand the potential client we are talking to, and start to formulate some ideas regarding strategy and opportunity to grow their business. You cannot win business by talking about yourself. You only win business by identifying problems and offering solutions for those problems. You win business by offering something of unique value that you cannot get anywhere else.

Just an example to get everyone thinking. What are some of your horror stories about poor sales calls? I'm sure the sales people reading this list would love to hear about them.

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