When a sales inquiry gets ignored because of his “unexperance”

As much as I trust and expect my salespeople to act on leads from our website, there are those strays that no one (including me) wants to touch. Case in point:

Web lead: “i have a [generic term for what we manufacture] and i want to sell it but i don’t know what its worth could you help me.”

I’ll be honest, I saw this one when it came in and didn’t know what to do with it, so I let it sit.

One week later I get this email: “yea thanks for the reply.i asked a question one week ago and still no response you guys suck and i will tell everyone i know on face book.keep in touch my ass.”

(The keep in touch comment was in response to our confirmation email each web request gets.)

I stewed about it for a bit. I had dropped the ball, but really this guy didn’t deserve a response to the initial request or the rude follow-up. I decided to respond, and tell this guy what he did wrong and ignore his attitude:

 … I’m not surprised that anyone replied for the following reasons:

  • You didn’t specify any details about the equipment, even if it was our brand.
  • There can be a lot of variability in age, brand, size, capability for each [unit], it is hard to discuss easily just to figure out what you have without investing a lot of the salesperson’s time.
  • Our company isn’t in the used-equipment business, and have little knowledge of the market value.
  • Salespeople can perceive used equipment as competition for their sales, and choose not to respond.
  • Hotmail/yahoo/gmail email accounts are a potential signs of clandestine inquiries by competitors or others.

If the equipment is by our company, email me the serial number and I can look up the equipment specifications, which should help you in selling the unit.

His reply: “Thank you for your time david.you are right I didn’t give you any details I will check with the seller and get back to you. again thank you and sorry for my unexperance in this situation.”

My final thought on this: based on his response, I think he took my reply the right way.

Adding a local sales-rep map to your website

Back in the early days of the web, I had a map that visitors could click on to find their local salesperson. It was just simple hot spots on a map jpeg that I had borrowed from another website. (Funny thing was how many hits that page got by people searching for ‘USA map’… via Alta Vista no less!)

As the web became a stronger lead-generator, I streamlined the inquiry-path, and eliminated the map. All inquiries would go to one email address and phone number. The outside reps complained, of course, but it worked pretty well.

Now, ten years later, I am adding back a rep-locator map. Why? Well, that’s complicated, but essentially it is a feature that remained in demand since I pulled it, both by customers and reps. The rest of this post will describe the work required to do this in 2010.

Steps to adding a rep-locator map

My completed map

1. Figuring out what you want – I already knew I didn’t just want a list of reps (or a pull-down list of states), so a map seemed like the best user interface, if it could be done right. I started googling and the term ‘sales rep locator map’, which brought me to some interesting examples of the way other websites are doing this. Some bad, some overkill, and a few just-right.

2. Figuring out you can buy the solution – The beauty of the internet: someone has a solution for free or paid for about anything you can think of. A true “cool” moment when I realized I didn’t have to have a lame locator tool.

3. Selecting a solution – I settled on the FLA-Shop’s USA map tool because it seemed easy to work with without messing with the flash file. I especially liked that the map was interactive, so the page doesn’t reload … and the visitor still has access to real text so they can copy/paste email or phone numbers.

4. Setting it up – I had some quality geek time setting up the XML file and making the HTML work within my existing website. I added text links to the bottom for Canada and Mexico and made them work within the tool. But then the code started misbehaving …

5. Get your developer involved – Okay, I’ll call my version “proof of concept”. But Mike Boyink was able to use Expression Engine (already in place as the site’s CMS) to manage the reps’ contact info data, which I was thrilled he did.

6. Go live! – and get on to other projects!


One other improvement to the site done about the same time was to add filters to the product-listings tables via jquery tools I had read about. For some product lines with over 30 models, this was a god-send. Thanks to Mike for doing the dirty work on that.

As I’ve said over and over on this blog, even if you aren’t technically able, just knowing what it is possible to make your website do will get you light years ahead of the competition.

Salespeople don’t listen to your emails?

As B2B marketers, our primary audience really is our salespeople, right? You’d think every email we sent to them would be treated as a precious treasure to aid them in their success.

Of course we are humbled–or more likely irate–when we find out that they aren’t even reading the emails.

I thought making friendly sales-info videos was a way to make sure salespeople were paying attention, but if they were just setting-aside my emails, they never even knew about the video.

This column, When too much information harms the office, from Lucy Kellaway helps explain this behavior:

“She has noticed that her staff are responding to the information overload not by digesting too much of it, but by stopping to digest anything at all. She tells me that, in her company, the written word has lost almost all its power. No one reads e-mails any more – with the exception of those from the boss. Messages from anyone else are either deleted unread or given a cursory glance and then ignored.”

Sure, that makes sense. The emails that we require actual reading get set aside until the recipient has time and is mentally prepared. And, unfortunately gets buried.

Lucy goes on to opine that this is potentially a good thing:

“The trouble with the information age is that there are so many people talking simultaneously. Leaders surely need to do not more listening but more ignoring. More than ever, the good leader surely needs to learn how to become selectively deaf.”

There is a lot written about being better managers of our inboxes, and a lot about breaking thru the inbox as a direct marketer, but how do we as communicators of important information make sure our emails are opened, read, and comprehended regularly?

The easiest strategy based on the first quote is to be the boss. But marketers are not the boss of the salespeople. And sometimes even the sales manager isn’t listening.

Personally, I think what needs to occur is more personal (phone or in-person) talking to salespeople to make them aware of the value of what we are sending. Sounds stupid to call people and ask them ‘did you get my email’, but that may be what you need to do.  Not everyone every time, but just on a regular basis of some sort.

What ideas do you have? What has worked for you?