How I learned to stop worrying and love the sales call

It’s 4:45 on a Friday. You’re about to head out a little early to grab your Valentine a surprise before your weekend gets started… and your office phone rings. It could be a last minute change to your dinner reservations… or it could be the dreaded end-of-week sales call.

You could send it to voice mail, but let’s be honest: you forgot your passcode months ago (editor’s note: affirmative). Better pick up just to see…

“Hey, sorry for catching you off guard-”

Boom. Just like that, you’re stuck talking to a salesperson.

Is this a nightmare scenario for you? As a salesperson, I get it. But during a holiday that’s all about showing a little love, all I’m asking is that you give us a chance.

Because it wasn’t too long ago (maybe even right now) that you were doing a little selling yourself.

Today’s sales environment—especially B2B, and doubly especially software—is actually further from dealing with Uncle Rico, the greasy used car salesman, and far closer to something we’ve all done a time or two (or thirty): going on dates.

With love in the air, let’s take a walk down memory lane.

“So, you come here often?” (Cold introductions)

Whether it’s through Tinder, LinkedIn, at a bar, or networking event, both dating and a sales relationship tend to start the same way: with two strangers seeing what the other is about, and if they can meet each other’s needs.

Sales has changed. Gone are the days where you might pick up the phone, have a short conversation, and suddenly wind up with thousands in extra charges. With B2B, it’s all about making sure the customer is happy, because a missed renewal is worse than a missed sale. It makes sense to be cautious, but just like in dating, if you don’t pick up the phone you may never find the person (or tool) you’re seeking.

So you’re clicking. What’s the next step?

“Help me, Google” (Independent research)

While “internet snooping” a date before you meet up is still a hot button issue (according to a recent study, 48% of women and 38% of men do it), when it comes to purchasing software, the more you know, the better. Find out who else uses the product, ask your colleagues what they’d want from a dream tool, compile lists. If your partners on the sales end are worth their salt, they will love this kind of information—it speeds the process along for both of us.

“I know this great sushi place on Larchmont…” (The demo)

So you think you might actually like this person. They said the right things (“Gantt chart views” or “I’m a Netflix junkie, too,” anyone?) and you’re ready to take things for a test drive.

In the dating world, this is where you grab dinner and ask the important questions. With sales, it can be as simple as checking out a demo of a product and seeing if it lives up to the promises.

“My place or yours?” (Negotiation)

It’s time to get down to brass tacks. Sure, you’ve had some fun together. Enjoyed some laughs and awkward moments. But where is this headed? Is it time to get serious, finally? Is this a person you can trust will be by your side when the going gets tough? Will the company’s roadmap change and leave you behind, holding your contract and an expired password? Does your family (or coworkers) approve?

“Sealing the deal” (The purchase)

So you’re finally ready to say yes. Congratulations! It hasn’t been an easy process, but it’s worth it. You demo’d around, but suddenly all the other products just don’t do it for you anymore. It’s time to sign on the dotted line, and live happily ever after—at least until contract renewal comes up.

This Valentine’s Day, I’m not asking you to marry the next person who wants to sling software your direction. But just know that it’s a mutual journey these days… and maybe picking up the phone doesn’t have to be such a nightmare anymore.

Post by Will Lentz

Will Lentz is an Enterprise Business Representative at iMeet Central (formerly Central Desktop). He's previously worked as an associate editor and content creator for Kentucky Sports Radio, so if you have any thoughts on college basketball, sales practices, or Better Call Saul, tweet at him here: @Willlentz