In this edition of Sales Failure we take the example of Viv* (real name withheld), who attempted to sell me her hotel and venue over email recently. This serves as a useful example to dissect her approach, and examine the lessons you can learn from it, in order to improve your own sales approaches and increase your sales!
So first of all, let’s take a look at Viv’s email:
“I apologise if you have received this more than once. My name is Viv and I am the Director of Sales at (venue name withheld). I am just wondering whether you use hotels for conferencing, events, team building, awards ceremonies, dinner dances or Christmas Parties and if you are the right person whether it would be possible for me to come out and see you in May/ June to discuss future opportunities for (venue name withheld). If you are not the right person for this could you please put me in contact with the right person so I am then able to discuss this with them. If you are the right person to speak to then this is fantastic and I hope we can start by getting an appt in the diary to discuss future opportunities and how we can work together. I have attached our Conference and events Brochure as well for you so you can see what fantastic facilities we have at the hotel as well. I would be grateful if you could come back to me so I can make sure I have the right person and update my database.
Viv (surname withheld) / Director of Sales (venue name withheld)
Part of the (group name withheld) Group
Okay, so let’s dissect Viv’s approach….
Now, aside from the fact that she’s tried to start her sales relationship with me by selling By email – a MAJOR error in my opinion anyway – But let’s look at where Viv went wrong, and what sales lessons we can learn from her approach.
Sales Failure Lesson No 1 – Don’t Start With An Apology!
Here’s where Viv fails – She starts off her email with “I apologise if you have received this more than once…”
Now, not only is this a personal bugbear of mine, but it’s sales stupidity to start off an email like this with an apology! First of all, how likely is it that people have received it more than once, and, why on earth would you seek to highlight that in the first line of your email?
Viv’s all important, opening line to her email might have well said something like this “I’m sorry if you’ve received this more than once – because if you have, we’ve probably got your email address on our database more than once and we’re not savvy enough/nobody here can be bothered to go through and check for duplicates, so apologies in advance for spamming you”.
This is meant to be a credible, professional sales approach, and already there is a problem with Viv’s call positioning – similar to if she’d said “sorry to bother you, but….” or “I know you’re really busy but….” on a phone call, for example.
This kind of approach to senior decision makers, implies that the sender is anything BUT credible and professional – and is probably new and inexperienced – exactly the things that would put someone OFF buying, rather than making them more likely to buy!
If you’re currently guilty of apologising at the start of your emails or phone calls, stop it! Now!
Sales Failure Lesson No 2 – Don’t Mix Your Outcomes
Here’s where Viv fails – she tries to qualify if the recipient is the right person, and close for a meeting in the same email/sales approach!
Whether your sales approach is a phone call or an email (and I’m sure you know which I favour by now!) you should have a clear purpose/intent for that sales approach before you send the email/pick up the phone.
In this example Viv muddies two outcomes – a data cleanse/qualification, and trying to close for an appointment.
Now, putting aside the fact that it can be difficult for most people to make appointments via email, the reason that this is a bad idea is that if the email reaches a senior decision maker, the cleansing approach will irritate them! Think for a moment how annoyed you get when someone calls you and starts the call off with their first words being “would you mind helping me whilst I update our database?” An email approach has the same impact.
Also, trying to close for an appointment in the first email contact? Really?!
Sales Failure Lesson No 3 – Lack Of Personalisation!
Here’s where Viv fails – she blatantly has sent a blanket email.
Nowhere in Viv’s email has there been ANY effort to personalise the communication. No name or greeting at the top of the email, nothing in the body of the email to indicate a specific interest – nothing!
Her email looks just like what it is – a mass, generic communication to probably the whole database, saying the same thing. What kind of impact does that have on the recipient do you think?
What happens if the recipient is someone who’s spent £5,000, £50,000 or even £500,000 with that particular venue in the past? How valued are they feeling as a customer when they receive that? What happens if they were considering that venue for an event or Christmas Party that year? Could this kind of approach on its own make them re-consider their thinking? Of course it could!
Clever salespeople make their customers feel special. They make them feel valued. They make them feel like their custom is appreciated. Does this email approach achieve any of that? In fact it achieves quite the opposite!
Sales Failure Lesson No 4 – Stop Being So Lazy!
Here’s where Viv fails – she tries to get me to do her work for her!
In Viv’s email, she asks – “If you are not the right person for this could you please put me in contact with the right person so I am then able to discuss this with them”.
She might as well have said “Please could you do my job for me, because actually calling you up and cleansing the database (as should be done) is too much effort for me, and a waste of my time, so if you wouldn’t mind doing it for me and then I don’t have to bother with such a menial, time-wasting task…because my time is FAR more important than yours…..thank you”.
I actually find it quite sad that the quality of sales approaches descend to these sorts of levels. With my experience of working with (although it sometimes feels like against) the hotel/venue/hospitality industry it’s not that unusual, but still sad nonetheless!
What on earth happened to picking up the phone and actually being bothered to do a bit of data cleansing/research/opportunity spotting?
Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on.