America is a service-driven economy. By that I mean that the number of factory and agricultural jobs are decreasing and the number of service jobs are increasing. Recently it occurred to me just how many service-providers I hire in a given year, for personal use. The list (off the top of my head) includes:

  • Babysitter
  • Gardener
  • House cleaner
  • Nanny
  • Massage therapist
  • Taxi driver
  • Valet
  • Accountant
  • Doctor
  • Lawyer
  • Dentist
  • Car detailer
  • Business coach
  • Graphic designer
  • Handyman
  • Painter
  • Realtor
  • Mortgage broker
  • Fishing guide
  • Banker
  • Mechanic
  • Tow truck driver

This doesn’t even include some of the everyday service people I use, like waiters, baristas, BART drivers, and janitors. And I’m not including business service providers, like HR, payroll, etc. The bottom line is this: if you think about how much you use service providers, you’ll realize how important this sector of the economy is!

You’d think that anyone in the services business would be responsive, friendly, and organized when it comes to attracting new business, but I’ve recently been amazed at how pathetic many service providers are at the basic of good sales. A few examples come to mind (all of these in the last two months):

  • Being asked for a proposal and not providing one for six weeks!
  • Scheduling a demo and then forgetting to actually show up!
  • Scheduling an in-person meeting and then canceling five minutes before the start of the meeting!
  • Receiving a request for pricing and never bothering to respond!
  • Running a sales call from a loud street or with a lot of noise in the background!

I could go on and on. It goes without saying that a service person/company that can’t even provide good service during the actual sales process is unlikely to do much better when it comes to the actual “service” part that you’re buying. For me, a lack of professionalism in the sales stage is a very easy way to eliminate a potential service provider from contention for my business.

I should note that this happens both in personal and business settings, but it’s even more amazing when it happens in the business world. My agency is not the 800 pound gorilla of online marketing (yet), but our clients collectively spend between $50 and $70M a year on online marketing, so it’s not like we’re chopped liver. And yet, I routinely run into shocking incompetent sales organizations that seem to go out of their way to prevent me from giving them sales.

I don’t really know why this is the case. Obviously there are lazy and inept people in the world, so that explains part of it. There are also some companies that are just in really high demand and apparently this means that their salespeople can take a laissez-faire approach to selling. But a lot of the examples I discuss above don’t seem to fall into either of these categories; the salespeople seem smart and savvy and the businesses seem to be doing well, but not so well that they can just drop sales left and right.

What am I missing here?

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David Rodnitzky
David Rodnitzky is founder and CEO of 3Q Digital (formerly PPC Associates), a position he has held since the Company's inception in 2008. Prior to 3Q Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies, including (2000-2001), FindLaw (2001-2004), Adteractive (2004-2006), and Mercantila (2007-2008). David currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up. David is a regular speaker at major digital marketing conferences and has contributed to numerous influential publications, including Venture Capital Journal, CNN Radio, Newsweek, Advertising Age, and NPR's Marketplace. David has a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and a J.D. with honors from the University of Iowa. In his spare time, David enjoys salmon fishing, hiking, spending time with his family, and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes, not necessarily in that order.