'Mind' games: the indispensable--you read that right--test engineer.

Author:Boguski, Robert

"I'LL KEEP YOU in mind."

The salesperson's equivalent of a Dear John letter. Smooth-sounding, but, in reality, the kiss of death as far as consummating a promising opportunity goes. The quintessential blowoff.

The dreaded "I'll keep you in mind" from a prospective customer is a comeback no salesperson wants to hear. It covers a host of unforgiveable sins from their perspective: The customer's mind is already made up to select a competitor's product or service; they lack the authority to buy, or the whole exercise was conducted for the sole purpose of educating someone previously ignorant about your product and its technology, on the salesperson's (uncompensated) time. So that fully informed, armed and suitably dangerous, they could then do the right thing and purchase the Other Guy's stuff. Rarely is the outcome of each of these scenarios a desired one for the eager salesperson. Seldom is the sale made. The poor peddler is somehow supposed to be consoled by that worthless phrase: I'll keep you in mind.

Sure you will.

The cost of sales is big; being jerked around by an engineer or other management fact-finding emissary with zero authority or intention to purchase is a waste of everyone's time, money and energy, leaving little but bad feelings and occasionally raw emotions. Voodoo doll raw.

This is not an uncommon trap for a new or incompetent salesperson to fall into. It is the job of that salesperson to determine the potential for a sale early in the process. Some are better at it than others. Typical sales-related due diligence includes contact with high-level management (so-called "decision makers"), probing the financial stability of the prospect company, and last but hardly least, evaluating whether the product or service being sold fits the stated needs and provides an adequate financial return on the targeted company's investment. Entering a sales campaign without performing the requisite upfront detective work often leads to the end-result of "we'll keep you in mind." Or, translated to sales speak, "Don't call me, I'll call you (as in never). And what was your name again?"

Often it doesn't end there. Adding insult to injury, these days the enterprising salesperson may not even make it to "we'll keep you in mind." In this era of entitlement and 28-year-old spoiled-child CEOs, many prospects feel no obligation to respond to salespersons' follow-ups and entreaties for quote feedback. Old pros complain with gathering frequency about the...

To continue reading