Seven Deadly (Professional Service Provider) Sins
By Sunny Nunan, Core24® While we love making sure the Dallas business community knows about awesome business resources, it’s becoming increasingly more fun saving the world from the bad guys – those unworthy-of-your-business service providers. Daydreaming of clawing our eyes out, sudden headaches and wondering when our next dentist appointment is, are all bad signs during meetings with would-be Core24 recommended service providers. Email correspondence can also bring us angst. Undertones of anger, bad grammar and unwarranted impatience cause us to put the brakes on immediately. But as stewards of our practice and passion for connecting worthy business service providers to companies in need, we’re willing to waste our time because we know it saves you yours. Here are seven things we hope you never find in service providers trying to pitch you their business.
1. They’ve got better things to do than help you. In a marketplace overrun with people all claiming to be the best it’s important that we believe you really care about helping people — and take the time to. When you blow off a prospect because you don’t think they’re “worth enough” before taking the time to really figure out their need (what could be your opportunity or a referral for someone else) you’re missing out on one of the best aspects of business – helping others. We represent many very established, successful companies that have been around for decades and interestingly the one thing they all have in common is a sincere willingness to help others –even if there’s no immediate revenue opportunity. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by James D. Miles “you can judge the character of a man by how he treats those that can do nothing for him”. Providers with a servant mentality might not get the business today – or ever for that matter, but they believe in the law of reciprocity (and karma) and you should, too.
2. Trash Talkers. Recently after sending out one of our newsletters, I received a note from a provider that competes with one of our expert companies that essentially said we’re better than they are — but with much less respect and no proof. Here’s the problem with that: not only does it break one of the cardinal rules in business – NEVER disparage the competition– it’s also a quite ineffective way of differentiating yourself. The only person that looks bad is you in the eye of the decision maker. In a recent white paper by Forum, A Street Level View of Sales, C-suites confirmed that reps that can’t quickly articulate their value and resort to putting down the competition in an attempt to compete only frustrates the C-suite decision maker.
3. They think their awards speak for themselves. Sure, Dallas has it’s many lists of “bests” but everybody knows that sometimes making a “list” can have less to do with true expertise and more to do with advertising and PR which means that companies that make them still have work to do. So when we call you (caterer) and request a face-to-face meeting before adding you to our short list of client recommendations you should welcome the opportunity. Refusing to meet in person because “your awards and accolades speak for themselves” might not remove you from the publication that already hit newsstands but it won’t generate revenue for you either. The truth is, the fastest way for business service providers to build trust with a prospect is to do it face-to-face. The Buyersphere Project, Enquiro.
4. The whole truth and nothing but the truth, please. If you just started your consulting business in your kitchen that’s totally cool – we love start-ups. But misrepresenting yourself and your start up social media company by pretending you’re famous in NY, have tons of FTE’s (that are actually very part time contractors) or even a company website doesn’t make you legit, and it doesn’t fool us. Just tell us you have a dream to become the best social media company in Dallas and while we won’t give you our endorsement today (or any time soon for that matter), we’ll be keeping our eye on you. We really don’t how good you are if you don’t have the number one most important attribute in business: integrity.
5. Broken persistence meters. There’s nothing more annoying to someone running a company with a plate full of other priorities than when out of nowhere comes a service provider trying to sell him something. We’ve all experienced the rep that no matter how many times you tell him the timing just isn’t right, they continue to peck, peck, peck until you say ok to get him off your back or (politely) hang up. This actually happened to me at a meeting I hosted and it wasn’t over for 2 minutes when I was cornered by a Life Insurance guy representing a very well known, respected brand who was trying to sell me life insurance with 10 other people in the room. He didn’t care about the lack of privacy in our environment, or the fact that I was getting married soon and the timing just wasn’t right or any valid objection for that matter –only that he had insurance I should buy. Consequently we did not move forward in inviting this provider to apply to become a Core24 expert. We’ve been approached many times by service providers who may be reasonably good at what they do but have a broken persistence meter. Kicking off a relationship with a prospect by annoying him rarely,– if ever leads to business. In a study “A Street Level View of Sales “ by Forum.com, C-suite decision makers reported that “not respecting the buying process” is among the most frustrating attributes of sales people selling business services.
6. They could use a big slice of humble pie. Several months ago I was asked to do due diligence on a new executive networking organization that claimed to truly be the best in their correspondence with one of our clients (like the other 150 in Dallas). When I called to set up a meeting on behalf of my client to learn more so I could make an informed recommendation I could barely get a phone conference scheduled, let alone a face-to-face meeting with the founder. He instantly and repeatedly reminded me of how unimportant I was in his eyes (a former IT sales rep, coincidentally). Had his approach been a bit different he would have learned that Core24 is called on frequently by executives in Dallas trying to find the right groups to engage with, not just this one. He would have also learned that we don’t compete with networking groups we recommend them — or don’t. We’re once again reminded that the most accomplished, successful people in business are most frequently the most humble and down to earth.
7. They make you grumpy. Before we were accountants, marketers, lawyers, benefits experts, financial wizards and masters of IT we were human. You can be a really good at what you do and be really nice too—we have many examples of that. People do business with whom they like and who are really good at what they do. We represent many business service providers in Dallas that demonstrate that possibility consistently. In fact, we won’t work with you if you’re not. Life is just too short not to surround yourself with good people day in day out. Plus, mean people make us grumpy.