How to Talk to Busy People

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Am I paying attention? This is what I’m thinking about when your sales rep calls me unsolicited and yammers about synergistic synergies and maximizing leverage.

Dear [Every CEO of Every Software and Services Company],

I am busy.

I know you know I’m busy. Heck, you might be busy too for all I know. Still, I feel like I have to say that to each and every day to one more of your minions. Sales reps, marketing reps, cold call reps slogging it out to get a call set up for the next boss on the ladder… These are the people you send my way. They clutter my inbox and their cheerful voices die the slow death of entropy in my voicemail box.

I am busy.

By the way, I’m not the only one who is busy. All of my colleagues are busy too. Not just the people I work with here, but all the people in the same line of business at other companies too. We’re busy, but drip by drip you cut into our productivity by sending your forces in through any means necessary.

Do I have your attention?

How to Talk to Busy People

And yet, people have to earn a living so the calls must go on.

If the calls must come, and surely they will, here are a few things to get you off on the right foot:

  • Find the right person before you fling your forces against the castle wall – There is really nothing more annoying than receiving an unsolicited email followed up by everyone in the organization forwarding the same email because you could be bothered to find the right person in the first place.
  • Don’t tell me you just want to learn about my business – You don’t. I know it and you know it. You want to sell me something. Instead of feigning interest in what I do, explain to me why I should care about what you do.
  • Tell me the price – Come on. We both know that you have a price. Yes, there might be a million custom things that could change that price, but you still have a price. Share it up front and get it out of the way. Everyone know the relationship-building game is just way to make it more difficult for the mark to say no. If you have a great product and I have a need, I won’t say no. If you try to manufacture a relationship or a need, then I’m going to say no.
  • Don’t try to be smarter than me – This is not to say you’re not smarter. Maybe you are. However, don’t come on with a sales tactic designed to make me fearful of my intellect or strategy. It makes you look really stupid when you make a misstep (and you will).

What Actually Works

Product: If you don’t have a great product, then stop trying to sell whatever you have and go back to the drawing board. If you don’t think this is very helpful, then you’re in the wrong line of business. Seriously.

Honesty: Be 100% transparent. Quickly and succinctly tell me why I should spend my company’s time looking at your product. Tell me how much it costs and why you price it that way. Don’t show me logos of other companies using your product until the end because frankly I don’t care. I care about my company first.

Listening: No means no. You might need to knock on a hundred doors to get a yes, but knocking on the same door a hundred times will get a pot of boiling water thrown on you. No means no.

I can’t promise that following all of this advice will work wonders on your sales process, but I can assure you that it will keep your company’s name from getting blacklisted.


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