An Open Letter From Your B2B Customer

Dear Mr. or Ms. Sales Manager,

I am writing to remind you that I need you. You and your salespeople provide products and services that I need to help me succeed in my business. Unfortunately, many of your salespeople do their best to make it difficult for me to trust them, like them and buy from them. To help you improve so that I can improve, I wanted to share with you these three pleas from this one customer.

1. Let Me Interact With You the Way That I Want

If I want to communicate via E-Mail, let me and (for goodness sake) answer me back. If I want to use the phone, return my phone call. If I want to place all my orders on-line, then let me. If I want to see one of your salespeople, then have him or her schedule an appointment and come out and see me. A couple of examples on what to avoid:

The other day I was on your website. I had an issue that could not be addressed via the website. Alas, there was no phone number and no way for me to be able to talk to someone to have my problem addressed.

A year or so ago, I was happy placing my orders on-line through your website. Then, I got a new salesperson who was passionate about providing the personal touch. He required me to call him or place all my orders with him in-person (so that he could try to up-sell me every time that I placed an order). That wasted my and my team’s time (see below), and so we just stopped placing orders with you altogether.

2. Don’t Waste My (or My Team’s) Time

When your salespeople visit with us, make sure that they do not waste our time. I want your salespeople to follow-up with me. I want your salespeople to introduce new products and services that my business needs. I want your salespeople to give me advice, suggestions and insight (even competitive insight) that help me in my business.

What I do not want is for your salespeople to wander into my business, ask me aimlessly how things are going, and then chat with me (and my team) about sports, the weather, gossip or other whatnot.

Here is a perfect example of what not to do:

Four years ago, we had a sales engineer who would visit our plant every two weeks or so. He often brought doughnuts and would hand them out to guys in the shop and chat with 3 – 4 of them for about an hour (all in the name of good customer relations). He was wasting my team’s time with all this customer service. After a while, we would not let him on our property except if he had our Vice President’s approval, a timeline and a detailed agenda. In the end, this was not worth all the extra work on our part so we just switched vendors, and this sales engineer stopped coming around.

3. To Earn My Trust, Look Out for My Interests (Not Yours)

Your salespeople are always shocked that I do not believe them or trust them. What they forget is that I have been told the same line about adding value and taking care of the customer from virtually every salesperson that has visited us since we started our business.

As good as gold is the salesperson who really does what he or she says and puts us and our business first. An example from the world of high-end restaurants offers some advice on how to be as good as gold.

A recent study tried to determine what the best waiters at expensive restaurants did to earn their larger tips. When these waiters reviewed the menu and offered suggestions to their patrons, they would not recommend the most expensive dish or wine on the menu. Instead they would suggest a less expensive item as the best choice. By so obviously putting the customer’s interest above their own, the customers would relax and trust the waiter listening to his or her recommendations throughout the meal and almost always tipping more.

So, have your salespeople sell me what is best for my company’s needs even if these are not the products or services that have the highest profit for your business or the largest bonus or spiff for your salespeople.

In conclusion, I am asking you, Mr. or Ms. Sales Manager, to remind your salespeople that the best way for them to make their numbers is to truly help me succeed in making my numbers.


Your Customer


About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
This entry was posted in Business Acumen, Perform / Execution, Sales and Marketing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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