Thursday, June 22, 2006

Why do I have to change?

I bought a car recently. It's a Ford Focus. It has an automatic gearbox.

I have driven cars with auto gearboxes for a number of years without any trouble. But what I have found is that this car does small kangaroo hops when I drive away from speed bumps in the road, as it kicks back from second gear into first to gain better acceleration. The car has had this problem virtually since I got it about three weeks ago.

After having it serviced the problem remained and so the head technician took me out for a test drive this afternoon. After driving it with little problem, the car did a couple of little hops. The explanation to me is that there is nothing wrong with the car. It is my driving style. Apparently I am confusing the computer which manages the gearbox. I have to change my style to suit the car.


I don't drive the car aggressively nor treat it poorly yet I have to change. The car can't be reprogrammed to suit me. Why not? If all the other cars that I have driven in the past suit my driving style, why can't this one?

It would be great if the car learned a person's style and adapted things such as gear changes, etc to meet that style. I am sure the technology is available. Who's going to create it?

But then I suppose this car is like other products I buy which don't quite suit me but I buy them as they are the next best thing to what I need. Is it possible to make mass produced products customised for each individual?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Poor training kills telesales

Earlier today I received a phone call from a friendly woman in a call centre offering me a free mobile phone. The fact that she was obviously calling from an Indian call centre makes this story no less relevant. This can and does happen everywhere in call centres.

I asked a few questions which she could not answer and instead of trying to find the answer she hung up on me! That's right a sales person hung up on me for asking questions about their organisation and offer. Here's how it went:

Sales: "Hi I'm calling from XXXX (name removed to hide the guilty). We work with 3G networks."

Me: "Is 3G Networks a company? I haven't heard of them?"

Sales: "Haven't you heard of 3G networks?"

Me: "No. Who are they?"

Sales: "I am calling from XXXX. We work with 3G networks."

Me: "I haven't heard of either company. Who is your organisation?"

Sales (ignoring my question): "We would like to offer you a free mobile phone."

Me: "I already have a mobile phone, thanks."

Sales: "I know. That's why we would like to offer you another one."

Me: "Why do I need another phone?"

Sales: "We are offering you a phone as your number has been specially selected."

Me: "But you haven't answered my questions - who 3G networks is and why I need another phone?"

The phone line went dead.

I honestly wasn't trying to be difficult. I was trying to find out about the sales person's company and why they thought I needed a second phone. The problem was the script in front of her didn't provide the answers and no one had trained her with the information she needed. So with that failing the sales person tried to continue down the safe route of the call script. When that failed she gave up.

But the worst part would have to be that she hung up on me. Why? She initiated the call. I am asking questions - simple, logical questions. If you haven't heard of an organisation before you obviously want to know who they are. And I was intrigued as to why they thought I needed a second mobile phone.

If you are running an outbound call centre they are usually at the front line of your sales force. If they are trained poorly then the image they present to your customer is not going to be very positive at all. That is going to cost you sales and hurt your reputation, especially when you are in a competitive market space like mobile phones.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sales and Marketing on the same page

Brian Carroll over at 'B2B lead generation' makes a great point about the relationship problems between sales and marketing.

While I have talked about the trust problem between sales and marketing in a previous post, Brian points out that there is also the issue of the two teams being on the same page when it comes to definitions. What marketing calls a lead isn't always the same as what sales calls a lead because often they have differing opinions because of their job descriptions. Brian points out that the CEO - but it just has to be the person in charge overall, whatever their title - needs to take the lead in making sure that everyone is on the same page.

In my current role, marketing, sales and management have one definition of a lead and it makes things easy for everyone. The trick is to make sure that the the description of a lead is definitive and that there can be no argument from any party as to whether a lead passed from marketing to sales fulfills the definition.

Sometimes this makes it more difficult for marketing but at the end of the day we know what we have acheived.