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An Inbound Sales Story Inspired by the DMV

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 12/18/13 2:00 PM

Loud Linda at the DMV

The last thing I wanted to do in the middle of a busy work week, on the second to the last week of the year, in the midst of merging 2 companies together, was go to the DMV and get my license renewed. But passport in hand, the day after a big snow storm and in 5 degree weather, I forced myself to go there instead of the gym, bracing myself for a long line and annoyed people.

I was relieved when I saw that I was #8 and as I walked through the door they were just calling #6. Phew- I got here early enough to miss the line. I sat down behind a woman talking urgently and loudly on her cell phone. The desk clerk called #6 a few more times, the big red flashing light for 6 went off over our heads. After about a minute, the clerk gave up and called 7. An elderly woman and her husband sat down to ask a question. I pulled out my paperwork and waited for my number to be called. I might be out of here in less than 15 min and get to my meeting early!

Loud Linda ended her call and turned around to face me. "Did they call #6? Oh! that was me!" She gathered her things and walked over to the clerk, standing behind the elderly couple and talked over them. "Can you bring up number 6 again? I missed it." The clerk handled her very well and told her to sit down and that she would call her number again when she was done with the couple. As I sat with my clerk and she renewed my license and told me what her 12 year old grandson wants for Christmas, I overhead Loud Linda with her clerk. "Put a rush on that..." and "Why can't you just do xyz..." came up a lot. I felt bad for the clerk, but admired her patience and ability to not snap back at Loud Linda.

You can't make this stuff up. As I drove away and called my husband at work to tell him I finally did what he had been nagging me about, I told him about Loud Linda. He laughed- how is it that these people can't see what assholes they are? "Because- their agenda, their time, what they want right now is more important than anything and anyone around them. They ignore the rules because something else is more important- them. They don't see it, because they can only see themselves and it blinds them."

What if Loud Linda was how people saw you in sales?

Never! Oh, but yes. Aggressiveness in sales is a trait that many attribute to success, right? When is that a bad thing?

Last week a sales person called me to discuss a proposal they had sent to one of my clients, but that I didn't like. It was too complicated, didn't address everything, and although it was "explained" several times to my client, they still couldn't explain to me how it worked. The sales person insisted that if they explained it to me directly, all would be fine. I agreed to, but only because my client asked me to speak with them. The client said that the sales person would be available that evening, but when I called their voice mail box was full. Instead they called me at the end of the next day. When I picked up the phone I was in the middle of a project, so I probably shouldn't have answered. But I did, here is how to went;

"Hi, its <sales person>, <client> tells me that you have some questions."

Me: "Oh, yes. Sorry, I was expecting us to talk last night. I did tell <client> I would speak to you, but I am in the middle of fixing an issue for another client and I thought you were them. Can we set up a time tomorrow?"

<sales person>: "Well, I understand. I promise I won't take up too much of your time. I really want to answer your questions now, can you just tell them what they are?"

Me: "Sorry, I do have a lot of questions, but now is just not a good time. Quite frankly, I think enough time has been wasted on this already. I had planned for us to speak last night."

<sales person> "Well what if we just take 5 minutes and you can tell me your questions and feedback and then we can set aside more time to talk about it next week? Your questions are important."

At that point, I didn't feel I was being listened to and didn't want to waste any more of my time. Was this sales person aggressive? Yes. But was it about the right things? Short of hanging up on this person, they just weren't going to get it.

How many times have you called on a prospect and been so delighted to catch them on the phone, that you rushed into your pitch and agenda because you needed to get their attention while you had it? Never mind that it was a really bad time for them.

Also last week, I was waiting in the waiting area of a mid-sized insurance agency for the CEO. We had a pre-scheduled meeting. As we were waiting, a promo products sales person came in. As the CEO came down the hall, the sales person introduced himself, "Hi Charles, I am Dan from so and so company. Have you heard about our new XYZ that would be so great for your ABC?" As I watched this scene, the CEO nodded and smiled and then asked, "Do we have an appointment?"

Does emotional intelligence have something to do with successful inbound sales?

I think yes. My sales mentor once told me that our personal lives impact our sales performance because when we are in crisis, it is hard to see beyond that. Our reactions, decisions and results are impacted. I didn't know it then, but I think what he was talking about was the impact on our emotional intelligence.  

Emotional intelligence can change over time. Business coaches who can help to develop and refine emotional intelligence impact the bottom line. 

According to Fast Company, there are a few requirements to develop EQ:

  1. Genuine curiosity. About other people, not just curiosity about how to get what you want. The sales person with the proposal missed this.
  2. Self awareness. In your strengths and your weaknesses and not being afraid to speak up about both. Loud Linda at the DMV missed this.
  3. Attention and focus. ON THE OTHER PERSON! You can't make connections with people if you are checking your cell phone. It's rude because you are basically saying that you cell phone is more important than they are. Loud Linda and the sales person missed this too.
  4. Saying no. If you always say yes, you aren't adding value. If you can't say no to yourself, you aren't getting anything done. (see #3)
  5. Self knowledge. Why did you react that way? Knowing what is triggering your reactions is key to changing your perspective and future actions. 
  6. Intuition. It happens when you have these others in play. You know what next step to take and when. As you start to see things happen, you begin to trust it more and more.

Have an EQ story to share? Need some perspective on your 2014 goals?

Topics: sales, inbound