Eighteen months ago I posted a piece entitled Why Don’t They Want To Sell To Me. It told of my amazement at the lack of basic sales and service I received following a BMW test drive. When offered the chance to slam dunk a guaranteed sale there was no follow-up call, no attempt to explain the range, no chance to up sell the car’s package and close the deal. And today I can report this is not a car thing, it’s the same for the business park and serviced office industry. Once again, I ask: ‘Why don’t they want to sell to me?’
My original blog in 2009 noted that while a huge automotive brand had plenty of research, publicity, websites and PR nobody seemed willing to do the most basic marketing activity: pick up the phone, close and sell the flippin car to a red hot lead. Fast forward to 2011 and life for many of us has changed. We are in a recession and so surely B2B operators and the service industry are now super keen to close deals. One would think so, right? Well here’s a familiar tale. In January, looking to set up Benchstone Limited I spent a few days visiting local business parks to check out the costs of serviced office suites and collect glossy brochures. Phone calls were made, names noted, emails beeped and exchanged. I visited FIVE different serviced office complexes. All of them interviewed me before they showed me around and collected my details on forms. They noted the business name, phone and email contacts, launch dates, space required, my IT needs. I handed over my temporary business card, once again – containing all of my contact details. I made it clear that within my plan I had already set aside funds for office space and that I was looking for a minimum of six months lease from around March 2011. I didn’t gasp at the prices but naturally frowned and explained I was looking for a sharp price. All five business parks stressed that they had perfect space for me and that deals were available. Coffee was drunk and hands were shaken. Afterwards, perhaps the enquiry forms were logged. Perhaps I am now a ‘record’ upon their carefully managed databases? Perhaps this system has interesting graphic devices, with colour codes and pie charts? Perhaps I was discussed as a potential ‘call-back’ at a monthly sales meeting? Perhaps? I do know something however. Something quite extraordinary. Since I met with all five businesses in January 2011, expressing a clear interest in taking office space from March 2011, I have had a follow up courtesy email from only ONE of them. One. In other words, 80% have not even bothered with a most basic and simple of follow ups to an obvious lead. Not a phone call. Not an email. Not a DM pack. Perhaps all of the office parks I visited are now making so much money that my express need to rent a two-person suite for six-months from March 2011 is not a big enough opportunity? Perhaps they’re just rushed off their feet? Perhaps they’re making too much money? Like the legends of rock stars turning away million dollartours for tax purpose. Perhaps, despite all their form filling, databases, systems, agencies, segmentation and marketing plans four out of five of these substantial B2B businesses I met with in January 2011 lead me to ask the same question I asked in 2009: ‘Why don’t they want to sell to me?’.