Even Incoming Sales Calls Are Dead

June 14, 2006

Just after getting off a call with a potential client today, I happened across Seth Godin’s post about sales calls:

I wonder if the sales call has a lot of life left in it.

Before you faint, let me get my terms straight: I think a sales call is a meeting (in person or on the phone) when a salesperson endeavors to sell something to a prospect, and where the prospect is doing the salesperson some sort of service by being there.

He is absolutely right, and I am willing to take it one step further. Not only are outgoing sales calls dying, but (in our space at least) so are incoming sales calls.

What I mean by this is the old way of transferring any sales calls over to a true “Sales Guy” that can answer every question to a T and truly sell the caller on the product every time is dying quickly.

My call today was a consultancy that called me to ask about training. A genuinely interested buyer called and had his colleague on the speaker phone. They proceeded to pepper me with very common questions for businesses evaluating a potential vendor:

  • Do you offer onsite training sessions?
  • What are some of your larger customers? Would I have heard of any of them?
  • How can I be sure you will be around in the future?
  • etc. etc.

If I was a slick sales guy I would have great well-rehearsed answers to all these questions because they are very common in the software industry, but alas I am a developer/operations/business/support/integrations/sales guy and I really don’t have time to B.S. our customers. Therefore, I responded with reasonable and truthful answers, that perhaps this person did not want to hear:

  • There are no onsite training sessions, just an easy to use application with good online help
  • Most of our customers are small consultancies that you would not have heard of
  • Our application has been live for over two years, our business has been here for over three and we are here running the business and answering the phone from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM Eastern

Most of my answers came down to the fact that we run a business focused exclusively on running and improving this application. We have designed it to be easy to use and to sell itself, so please give it a try.

I hope they do try it out and I hope they weren’t turned off by my answers, but if they were – so be it.

about the author

Co-Founder & VP of Operations, FreshBooks Levi is a professional engineer with a BEng from the University of Victoria. Before co-founding FreshBooks as the VP of Operations, Levi managed projects at Apex Systems Integrators Inc., where his clients included Canadian Tire, Nestlé and Parmalat. Levi’s long term goals include: never losing the contest to wear shorts to the office for as long as humanly possible, some day growing back his mullet he had in the eighties and getting on the jumbotron at the Raptors game at least once a year.