It seems that nearly every week a printing or promotional company tells me the people they are calling on do not return messages. I hear this from sales staff, as well as executives and/or ownership. But the same people complaining—oftentimes executives—are usually not good at getting back to the salespersons who are calling on them. I hear executives say, "Put them in voice mail—it is a salesperson, right?" Also, they may instruct the receptionist to tell the caller they are in a meeting. Or they simply have the salesperson leave voice mail after voice mail, without ever responding.
This is not good. We are no longer simply in the printing or promotional products business—we are in the communications business. The way we communicate defines our brand. Not getting back to people, even if it is to say "no thanks," is bad communications, and it hurts your company's brand.
The golden rule of sales—much like in life—is to treat others the way we want to be treated. If a person calls you, return the call. If a person e-mails you, return the e-mail. You may not be interested in what they have to say, but they are trying to sell their services the same way that your sales team is, right? Wouldn't you hope an executive at another organization would respond in some professional manner to your sales team, even if it is to tell them they are not interested?
Also, don't be tempted to simply duck calls. A salesperson can tell when something is not right. However, when there has been some dialogue and interest up to this point in the prospecting process, is it fair for a buyer simply to disappear and provide the salesperson with little information? No—that would be unprofessional.
If you want salespeople to leave you alone, tell them. Don't make them call you again and again so you can simply delete their voice mails. It's just not good business. And, it's a small world. The person calling on you today may be the person who could help you get your next job. They could be your future co-worker at another company. Because we live in a connected world, burning small bridges can come back to haunt you.