I’m a target. It’s practically painted on my forehead.
I’m fully aware that I’m in someone’s crosshairs. That’s why I tiptoe through websites, gracefully ducking the latest attempts to capture my precious contact information.
Dodging sellers is practically an art form. But one time, I miscalculated.
My Horror Story
This is far from the only bad sales experience I could describe for you, but it’s the one that sticks out. You’ll see why.
Since I’m very aware of the dangers of turning myself into a lead online, I tend to be very selective in handing out my contact info. Apparently, I wasn’t careful enough in the summer of 2016.
It was a nice day, warm and sunny, and I was doing research for my job. I downloaded a few PDFs and nothing bad happened, so maybe my guard was down. I fill out The Form. I get my download. A few minutes go by without incident.
An hour later, I get an email from a seller at that very company. (I don’t know it yet, but this email will haunt me for months.)
I don’t respond, because I generally don’t answer emails from strangers.
I get three more emails. I finally respond because not answering didn’t make him go away, so maybe actively telling him to back his truck up will do it.
Wrong. Responding only fueled his oddly desperate desire to talk with me, countering my gentle rejection with pushy bargaining to please just talk to him for a minute about his services, I’ll find them very useful, he’s positive.
This made me feel slimy and uncomfortable, like trying to tactfully escape from a guy who can’t take “no” for an answer. Oh… wait.
Next, he found my work phone number. My dear coworker told him I was on vacation in France (as I laughed in the next chair over).
Then. THEN. He somehow found my cell phone number (which isn’t available online anywhere, I checked), called multiple times, and proceeded to leave a voicemail. Cue feeling like someone dumped another bucket of slime down the back of my shirt.
Finally, he sent me a text. (As if he hadn’t already punched a hole in my personal bubble.) Texting somehow feels much more personal than a phone call, and this was a massive breach of my digital boundaries.
After I failed to respond to his text, he finally got the message. I haven’t heard from him since.
What do modern buyers want from sellers?
So I guess you could say I’m seller-phobic, at times. But I’m not the only one. Especially in my generation (darn millennials) there’s an undercurrent of dislike for any and all self-serving promotional activity. Personal horror stories aside, traditional sales tactics are especially off-putting to the new generation of decision makers.
Is there a way to NOT be off-putting while selling? Even further - is there a way to make modern buyers want to interact with you as a seller?
I’d like to take a second to scream at the top of my fingers: YES!
While I’ve had bad sales experiences, I’ve also had some incredible experiences with sellers that made me feel valued, empowered and more than willing to spend money at their company.
A seller at Sephora, for instance, made me feel beautiful by using the store’s products to do my makeup, taught me exactly how to apply those products on my own, and swiftly closed what I’m sure was one of her many, many sales for the day by taking those products off the shelf and putting them directly into my grabbing hands. I then left a review on their Facebook page gushing about the fantastic sales experience.
That’s what we want.When it comes down to it, my generation isn’t scared of sellers. We’re just looking for something a little different.
Stop Selling & Start Leading
Hearing it from me is one thing. But there’s also years of high-quality research to back me up. Here’s a snippet from Forrester, taken from the upcoming book Stop Selling & Start Leading:
...Millennial B2B buyers respond favorably to salespeople who evoke feelings of trust, compatibility, and connectedness in contrast to fifty-year-old plus buyers who were more focused on business benefits and deliverables.
Deb has been working hard to take this exact research--what modern buyers really want from sellers--off her shelf and put it directly into your hands. Honestly, it would be obtuse to ignore the wisdom she’s sharing.
As a buyer of the new generation, I wholeheartedly recommend checking out her upcoming book. See what’s in it, check out the many endorsements (it’s not even available yet and people are wholeheartedly supporting it), and pre-order some copies for yourself and your organization.
That’s how you get us modern buyers to enthusiastically open our wallets. And that’s every seller’s dream, right?
(Ashley Wilson-Rew is Content Strategist & SEM at protocol 80, Inc. She handles content writing, SEO, and digital strategy for a variety of B2B clients. More importantly, she's part of the new generation of buyers who want something more from buyer/seller interactions. Special talents include making bad puns and wiggling her ears.)