The other day, a rep whom I did not know called me to get some advice about a new line. He left his name and asked me to call him back, but he didn’t leave his phone number. Fortunately, I have caller ID, and maybe he just assumed that everyone does. But he called my office phone, not my iPhone. Caller ID is never a given.
I went to Linkedin to see who he was. I always do that and so should you. The first thing you want to know is whether the person is even on Linkedin and then you want to know how many connections the person has. These two facts will give me a pretty good preview as to what kind of salesperson I am dealing with.
Obviously, if the person is not on Linkedin, he is not much of a salesperson. This caller is either completely out of touch, 10 years behind the times, or he does not much care about prospecting and finding people. It’s likely all of the above.
Next, I look at the person’s contact information and, to me, this really is where I can tell if this is a true salesperson. If the person only has Linkedin as a way to contact him, I start losing interest really fast. You’re a salesperson, for heaven’s sake. Your job is to be found, to give people an easy way to get in touch with you. Why would you not publish your direct contact information, phone number, and actual e-mail address? I just don’t get it.
Sometimes the rep’s firm website will be listed. “That’s good,” I think, "At least I’ll be able to find him on his website." I visit the site, click on his contact page, and I get the dreaded “info at” or “sales at” email address. Are you kidding me? You’re a sales guy. You want people to find you. You are selling, not buying. Why have a website to begin with, if you don’t have a solid and direct way to contact you?
I can almost understand it if you’re a buyer with all kinds of people trying to find you every day. You want to make them work for it, right? Frankly, that’s still pretty stupid but that’s a column for another day.
Now, I have heard all the excuses as to why contact information is hidden like this, most of them dumb:
“I don’t want to get all that spam.” Shut up. You’re going to get it anyway.
“I don’t want to site to be hacked.” What, and steal all of your valuable information?
“I don’t want to get hit with ransomware.” You’re an independent sales rep, you don’t have anything work ransoming.
“I don’t want them to steal my other sales guys.” If they want to steal your sales guys, they will find a way. And if they do, then what kind of relationship did you have with those people anyway?
“I don’t want to get all of these calls.” Really? You are in the business of getting calls, so suck it up.
Is this really so hard to figure out?
Back to my original caller. Somehow, I found his email address. Fantastic, now I’m in business. So, I email him, and guess what I get?
“I will be out of the office from August 5th until August 12th and my emails will not be answered. Please feel free to get in touch with me when I get back.”
What? You’re a salesperson. You work for yourself (I get it if you work for a company, but then you’ll have an alternate email for contact. But a self-employed sales rep?) There is no such thing as time off. You own your company. You don’t want to miss any opportunity, whether you are shooting the rapids in Colorado, climbing Mount Everest, traveling through Europe, or just sitting by the kiddie pool at home. Never, ever turn off your email.
We know that you have a smart phone; with that nifty little device you are never out of touch. We know that and we know that you are purposely ignoring us, because you think, you think, that you have something better to do. Sorry, you don’t. You chose to be an independent contractor, you chose to work for yourself, and being on call 24/7 is part of the deal. Never let people see you sweat, and if you’re self-employed never let them see you rest.
So please, when you call somebody who does not know you, leave your callback number. Put your darn real email and direct phone number on your website. And get rid of that “away from the office message.” You are the office. You are the business. And if you’re really smart, you will always be open for business.
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.