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Question and Answer: No response to emails

Q.  Dave, I have been a fan for a number of years, and have a number of your books.  In the last couple of years, I have grown increasingly frustrated.  Why won't people respond to my emails, return my voice mails, or even see me when I show up in person?  Am I doing something wrong?

 A.  You have asked a question that tens of thousands of other sales people have bouncing around in their heads every day.  I hope the response which follows will be helpful.

First, I can empathize with you.  You are frustrated that people who should be interested in what you have to offer don't respond to your emails, don't return your calls and are hesitant to spend time with you. I can tell you from my personal experience and conversations with lots of sales people, that you are not alone.  The condition you are describing is shared by hundreds of thousands of sales people. What's going on?  First, I don't think it's you.  It's not that they are responding to other sales people's emails and just don't respond to yours because they don't like you.  While that may be the case, (I have no way of knowing) I suspect that it is not.  I hear similar stories, and experience it myself, far too often to think that the problem is you.  It's not you.  It's them. The reality is that things have changed dramatically in the past few years, and will continue to change just as dramatically in the next few years.  Your customers have too much to do and not enough time in which to do it.  They are being asked to do more, in less time and with fewer resources than ever before.  Blame it on the recession and the relentless development of technology. That "too much” label applies to almost everything.  They get too many emails to thoughtfully reply to all but a handful.  They get too many voice mail messages to take the time to reply to anyone that isn't directly related to a project at the top of their list.  They just don't have the time anymore. They need to be productive, to get today's project done, knowing that there are dozens of others vying for priority just behind it. So, your emails and phone messages get pushed down the list in favor of something that is top of the mind today.

So, what do you do about it? Here are some suggestions.  First, let's think in terms of two classes of people:  Prospects, who have never bought from you, but could; and Customers, who have purchased in the past and know you.

For prospects…
1.  Be visible in the media that they use to do preliminary research on their options.  A few years ago, most customers would maintain a base of sales people or companies that they knew provided a certain class of solution.  They would see those sales people in order to have some knowledge so that they could make an informed decision when they needed to.  They would allow you the time to identify some issues in their operations or businesses and propose some solutions. Today, many of them have replaced that process with searching the web and social media sites to identify the list of players to whom they want to talk, when they want to talk to them.  It takes five minutes to skim a website, as opposed to 45 minutes to visit with you.  It's not that they will necessarily make a buying decision through these media (although if the risk is relatively low, they may); it's that they do their preliminary research there.  If you're not visible in the spaces they choose, you won't be in the game. So, do some research.  Find out where they go to make contacts, and put some time and effort in being there.  It certainly should be an attractive, informative website, and it could be certain LinkedIn groups, or Facebook, or even Google Plus.  By the way, in addition to on-line spaces, trade shows continue to be a place where buyers go to find sellers and solutions.  As a seller, they can be a great place to find buyers.  This will increase your chances of receiving a call and an invitation to visit when they have a timely issue.


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