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Lucas HamonFeb 9, 2015 5:30:00 AM8 min read

'I Wouldn't Buy From You in a Million Years!' b2b sales FAIL

Organic digital advertising beats the cold mystery man selling snake oil any day of the week.


He Said His Name Was Robert:

The other day I received a call from Robert, also from Southern California, a gentleman who had "two clients and a celebrity charity drive" that needed marketing services.

He was an interesting sort, and it sounded like we had some mutually beneficial services to offer, so I was happy to speak to him further. Of course, there were already red flags, such as his inconsistent phone numbers and the fact that he never once mentioned my company's name, but he made it sound like he was referred to me, and most importantly, he was REFERRING new business according to the words out of his mouth.

As I recount the rest of the rest of the story for you, I want you to see the lessons of how to cold call and lose BIG time.

"Does That Sound Like a Value that Makes Sense for You?"

These are the words that Robert would use over and over to ensure I was still engaged to the call, and to help position himself as somebody who was helping me. But what Robert didn't realize is that I've sat through enough timeshare presentations to know when I'm being had.


Step 1: The Mystery Message

He was a mysterious man, and his message was both annoying and intriguing. I knew I'd probably love or hate this man.

Ah, the mystery message... the bain of my b2b sales career. Loved and loathed by many, and executed by those with no problems starting the relationship off with a lie.

Robert's message was vague, but he said that he had clients that could use our marketing services. It piqued my curiosity, as it will many, because I am a believer in cooperative synergy. We cannot succeed on our own, and those who collaborate will always beat those who work in silos.

Step 2: "Don't Call Me; I'll Call You."

When I asked for Robert's email so I could send an invite, he immediately evaded the question and said, "don't worry, I'll call you." For some reason, this guy who was interviewing me to see if I was a good resource for his clients didn't want me to have his email address, and his phone numbers always went straight to voicemail. One even said that it doesn't accept messages.

"I'm old-school, Lucas. I'm a 62 year-old grandpa and don't have a website or anything like that. I believe in personal relationships."

Step 3: Claim to be "Old School"

Bob is so old school there are degrees about himClaiming to be "old school" is just plain lazy... that, or it's a total cover up about who you actually are (probably the latter). In today's age of digital communication and inter-connectivity, why would any successful business maintain old school status, and live in the dark?

Why? Indeed... This is when the BS detector started wailing... but there was something intriguing about those clients of his... an obvious bait 'n switch in the making...

Step 4: Lie Your Way In

Lying to get in sets the stage and positions you as... well... a liar

But this is Robert's game. He started our entire relationship off with a lie (the mystery message), so why would anything else that comes out of his mouth be true? Thankfully I've been on both sides of this coin, so my guard was immediately at attention.

With Orange Pegs Media I'm used to organic lead generation, which comes from telling the truth. It's work, and it takes a little time, but in the end, I'm not lying my way into my consultations. The lead conversion path that follows is one where my call is welcome and the data exchange valuable.

Step 5: Make Me Sell to YOU

"Tell me one thing... Are you primarily SEO-oriented? No? Good, because that's not what they're looking for." This was asked of me on two seperate occassions, by the way. And the canned responses were unsurprisingly identical.

Even though I was onto Robert, I found myself defending Orange Pegs, talking about all of the different marketing peripherals we offer. "SEO is apart of our mantra, but by no means is it our main driver. We also do email, blogging, social media marketing, analyt..."

That's when Robert cut me off and let me know I passed the test.. for now. "Would you be able to handle a large influx of clients?"

Step 6: Make it Impossible to Follow Your Story

Don't alienate your clients with confusing stories

"So I want to talk about this celebrity endorsed charity, but also a few other clients my partner and I have. But those are in separate categories, and I want to make sure you understand that."

My notes were all over the place. One minute we're talking about the foundation, the next his clients, then to another company's clients. As you'll later see, this is Robert's way of planting seeds for his bait n' switch.

Step 7: Have the Perfect Answers

"Lucas, what industries are you familiar with?"

"I've worked with recycling companies, small public companies, financial institutions, tax firms, construction companies, technology, and education."

"Perfect, because these other clients I was talking about are right in line with that. I have a scrap metal company, a construction company, accountants, and even some financial firms."

By now I realized with 100% certainty that I just wasted 35 minutes of my life with this cold-calling con.

Step 8: Throw Out Something Ridiculous, then Disappear a Minute

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."If I were able to refer you 3-4 companies that were INTERESTED in online marketing services every month, does that sound like a value that would make sense to you (ie. what if I made it rain?) I'm talking about high-margin clients that you don't even have to sell. Just sign them up, and it's only $99 a week. Hold on a moment. I have to change phones. Think about how much money you'd make with that kind of inflow of clients, and I'll be right back.

30 seconds went by, and then he came back.

"So, Lucas, does 4 new clients every month sound like a good value to you?"

Step 9: Be Very Evasive

At this point, I was tired of his stale cold-calling tactics and his equally stale aversioni to straight answers. I felt betrayed and stupid for even taking the call... And now I was getting downright angry. He just slipped that $400/month fee in there as if I was so sold on the project that in no way would I reject him.

"Robert, so what I gather here is that you're a lead generation company..."

"Now hold on. I never said that," replied Robert.

"Okay, but you're brokering that, correct?"

"I'm providing access to quality business growth. In fact, I'm on the road right now on a client's site. They don't need marketing because of the type of business they're in, but that should tell you something." (how exactly do you switch cell phones in the middle of a call? You're gettin' tripped up, Robby boy!)

Step 10: Know NOTHING About Your Prospects

Sorry if this next statement seems a little self-serving, but these were my words, and I wanted Robert to know he was wasting his time with me, as I was with him:

"Robert, do you understand the business I'm in? I know it's marketing, but it's more than that. It's inbound marketing. The entire premise of what I do is against everything you're talking about."

"But these leads WANT to be called," he muttered. "You told me that was an important value to you.

"No, because if they wanted to be called by ME, they would have provided me a way to contact them. I wouldn't have to buy their information off of somebody lke you. Inbound is about executing powerful content, and marketing through sharing, curation, and other organic means. My entire focus is to help others find leads like that for THEIR businesses. If I have to buy my leads off of you, how can I honestly tell my prospective clients that I know what I'm doing?"

Robert was a little taken back at this point, and decided that I should think about his offer and reconnect at a later time.

Soyanara, Robert.

Maybe if I close my eyes and plug my ears I'll be able to end cold calling

It's true though... If I can't generate client interest with marketing conducted FOR Orange Pegs Media, why would you want to hire me?

Robert is a con-man, and there are no two ways about it. He never provided a company name, and he was devious from the first word out of his mouth.

If you're cold-calling prospects and using ANY of these tactics, you are aligning yourself with the likes of him, and the thing you need to understand is that once we sniff out the BS, nothing else you say matters, not even if you're legit.

His lack of online presence should answer the question for many - "why social media?" Some people still don't get it, and not all of them are shady like Robert... maybe just a little behind - but having a strong website and true social media management makes you real, and if you're too old school to be real with me, then don't even bother picking up the phone.

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Lucas Hamon

Over 10 years of B2B sales experience in staffing, software, consulting, & tax advisory. Today, as CEO, Lucas obsesses over inbound, helping businesses grow! Husband. Father. Beachgoer. Wearer of plunging v-necks.