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How to Turn Off Potential Clients – A Case Study

Here is a quick and easy way to dramatically lower your closing percentage — and erode the value of your brand at the same time. It's not hard. Just follow this case study!

We'd been looking for a particular technical service that we could test in our own marketing campaigns and, if successful, offer to our clients. It was a funded initiative and a priority. So far, a great opportunity for the right firm.

A Perfect Match
One of our team members had attended a seminar and met someone from a large firm that sounded qualified for the job. So we asked them in for an initial meeting to explore their capabilities and our needs. As the meeting played itself out I became more and more excited. It looked like a perfect match.

Part of the firm's growth strategy involved establishing relationships with branding and marketing firms to resell their technology. The specific technology and service package was just what we were looking for. Our team began to emit buying signals at a rapid clip.

We were ready to run a test campaign to evaluate the firm's performance. If all went well, we were envisioning a rapid ramp up. We just needed to meet as a team and identify any follow-up questions.

A Push, Then a Shove
We got a call. The firm's senior salesman wanted to send over a proposal. We told him we weren't quite ready, but he kept pushed. I recall thinking this was a bit odd, but we relented.

The proposal that arrived the next day took my breath away. It was one part generic boiler plate and two parts legal fish hooks. Two things were very clear: 1) if they listened to us, it wasn't reflected in their proposal; and 2) the terms looked like the evil spawn of a cell phone contract mating with a yellow pages agreement. Just give us your credit card and we'll screw you over with the fine print for at least a year.

A Quick Resolution
With the thrust of a single ill-conceived contract, this firm managed to kill the trust they had built up — and prick our indignation to boot. We had invested a lot of valuable time to be treated like rubes. Needless to say, that was the end of any business relationship.

So there you have it — how to lose sales and annoy prospects in one simple step.

What manner of stupidity has befallen these misguided marketers? I'm sure their lawyers believe that the one sided contractual terms “protect” their firm. No doubt, someone in the sales organization believes that a quick proposal is the best way to close sales. They may justify the loss of our business by saying we were unqualified. But in the end, the only one unqualified in this picture is their business development team.

 

Author: Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D. Who wears the boots in our office? That would be Lee, our managing partner, who suits up in a pair of cowboy boots every day and drives strategy and research for our clients. With a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology, Lee is a former researcher and tenured professor at Virginia Tech, where he became a national authority on organizational behavior management and marketing. He left academia to start up and run three high-growth companies, including an $80 million runaway success story.

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