'Provocative' is a new series on INKISH.NEWS where editor Morten B. Reitoft will hazel over a topic. The intention with this series of articles is to create a debate that can lead to, if not change, then at least considerations. 

The first topic is 'sales'.

When choosing to buy a product, it often requires a lot of research and investigation before the agreement is inked. When companies invest, it's mostly because a problem needs to be solved. The problems can be diverse and range from balancing production (cost and capabilities) to actual demand. But it can also be because a company want to expand into new business areas/segments. Regardless of the reason, the printer will need to do some research. Exhibitions, Events, Trade-media, Vendor websites, Representatives, Industry Experts and Influencers are among the ways to get the knowledge required.

The research will eventually become a selling cycle where vendors are in the process to secure a deal.

The entire process takes time and involves several people. What closes the deals is, of course, a mixture of elements. The supplier chosen will most likely win since the product/technology delivered solves the identified problem the best way. It may also be because of price/terms, and finally, it can be for personal preferences/reasons.

None of the above is new to you, but the time the entire process takes is very often related to responsiveness from the people involved. Imagine, in the 'old' times the process relied on physical mails, faxes, and phones. Today instant messaging, texting, emails, and information available at your fingertips, the process could be way faster. Unfortunately, a new tendency is dominating. Ignorance, reluctance, and nobody seems to care!

Mailboxes have thousands of unread mails, and everybody on all levels in organizations simply doesn't respond. If the management doesn't answer emails to their employees, which we know happens, why should an employee answer emails to colleagues, and why should prospects and customers be answered? The entire email culture is leading to inefficiency on a level, that should change.

When customers research, many never get answers and rely more and more on being able to find the needed information themselves. That can lead to lost sales, and it can lead to decisions made on a less educated level, and it can eventually lead to lost opportunities.

My claim is that unanswered emails unnecessary extend all processes. My claim is that the culture of unanswered emails will lead to decreased sales. My claim is that your brand will suffer and loose brand value over time due to disrespect for colleagues, customers, prospects, business partners, and the entire industry.

I know that some may think that I am the bitter man not getting answers on proposals, and business ideas - and yes, that is also true. But I have talked to several people in the industry, and one of the worst examples I've learned was with a consultant in the printing industry reaching out for answers from his superior so that he could close a deal. After writing to his boss for a couple of weeks with no answers, and no calls returned, the consultant couldn't respond with answers to the potential client, who chose another supplier/vendor. The lost deal was close to $100,000. Take that mr. Boss.

Other examples. I got an email asking for collaboration with INKISH. I answered it within 6-8 hours - with a positive response. After one week, no response. After two weeks, still no response. I wrote the person, and remember, I was the one that was pitched and asked, not vice versa. 

The response I got was: "I don't have time to talk about this now; please be patient!"
- it was now six months ago, and I am pretty sure I will never work with that person on any projects in the future. A potentially missed opportunity!

It's, of course, up to you and your company to set terms for how you believe  communication should be handled. Still, all decisions in a selling cycle are based on knowledge, responsiveness, and on the almost same importance, the actual product and price/terms.

Lost opportunity?