The Exchange
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How to Lose a Sale in 3 Emails

Here at Yesware we’re fans of The Bridge Group‘s Inside Sales Experts Blog. One post by Bridge Group chief strategist Trish Bertuzzi  got us thinking about how email, used poorly, can get in the way of a sale, so we’re publishing a revised version of her post. You can find Bertuzzi’s original here.

I believe email is the primary vehicle for sales reps to communicate with buyers. A sale doesn’t start until someone has a conversation.

What happens when there’s no conversation? A colleague of mine, let’s call him Nick, sent me the following recently:

Trish – since I’ve seen some of your posts on ‘how NOT to do a cold call’ and related sales silliness, I thought I would pass this along.  Here’s an example of a horrible sales experience with me as the buyer.

I thought this story might make good fodder for a post stressing the importance of qualifying, when live conversations make sense, and how to screw up a deal with email.

Here’s the email exchange

Nick replied that it was premature to judge fit before the prospect had a chance to learn about the product and before the sales rep understood the prospect’s needs and budget.

Where did this all go awry? 

In the sales rep’s first email:

  • The good: He started out well, offering a demo and suggesting a conversation to ensure fit.
  • The bad: He did no pre-call planning. If he had, he may have identified his concerns earlier and perhaps offered just an initial conversation – saving the demo for later in the sales process.

In the sales rep’s second email:

  • The good: He does some research and is concerned about fit.
  • The ugly: Rather than stick to his original commitment, he decides to backpedal and use the old “price as a qualifier” sniff test. This technique just doesn’t play well over email. It comes across as rude and sounds like he is trying to kick Nick to the curb.

How did this saga end?

Nick reports:

I eventually got the Rep on the phone. He continued down the ‘are you worthy’ angle…so I gave up on him.

The timing of your follow up is interesting – as I just signed a contract to spend mid 5-figures on a competing technology to roll out in 2013.

I hate it when a bad salesperson destroys my ability to consider a good vendor.

Don’t we all.