Due Diligence: The Most Obvious Sales Tip in the World
I won’t make you wait for it: Know your audience.
Know your audience. This is the first step for any communicative episode. And selling requires effective communication.
A little bit of due diligence research can go a long way. And communicating in a way that demonstrates your knowledge can yield opportunities that a single-track sales mind (meaning push product, push product, push product) tends to miss.
Here’s an example.
Last week I received an email from a textbook representative from one of the top five academic publishers in the United States asking me if he could stop by my office and bring me desk copies of this publisher’s business communication imprint for use in my classes.
I’m a faculty member in business communication at the largest university in the country. I’m used to getting solicitation emails from publishers asking me to review books in the field or asking me to consult on digital products. So hearing from a publishing representative isn’t new.
But here’s the kicker.
I’m one of three authors on the textbook that is used at this university, and others throughout the country: Business and Professional Communication in the Global Workplace. I don’t say this to toot my proverbial horn (especially since each book that sells earns me barely enough money to buy a Starbucks coffee), but to illustrate a gross neglect of due diligence.
After shaking my head, I responded to the man, sent a direct link to the public syllabus listed on the department website, and told him that replacing my own book and rewriting the course content was not likely to happen.
Does this mean he shouldn’t have contacted me at all? No!
Does this mean that sales people shouldn’t contact people who already have a solution in place? No!
It does mean that if you do your due diligence, you can use a different approach, build a relationship, and made inroads for future opportunities and referrals.
Had he written, expressing knowledge of the book utilized and asked if we had plans to create another edition (this one was released in 2010), he would’ve gained valuable information. He would’ve learned that, no, we aren’t renewing for another edition with our publisher. With that information he could have (a) asked if we would be interested in talking to an editor at the company he represents–demonstrating his value to the editorial team in finding potential authors, or (b) asked if I would mind if he dropped off some books for consideration at a later date, should we decide to switch to a newer version, or to review updated chapters on technology for potential adoption, since that changes so rapidly.
Either of these would’ve furthered the relationship, and who knows what might have happened in the long run.
Know your audience. It’s simple. But often overlooked.
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