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Stop Making Sales People Look Stupid!

by David Brock on June 2nd, 2015
Stupid phone calls

Would you willingly make 10,20, 30 prospecting calls a day if you knew the customer probably thinks you are stupid?

Hopefully, that’s a basic intelligence test.  No one wants to look stupid!

Yet so many prospecting programs are designed this way.  I’m sure not intentionally, but through lack of focus, research, or having something meaningful to say.

Think of the truly stupid things that could be avoided:

“Can I speak to the person responsible for [Insert whatever you want] buying decisions?”  Given the wide availability of intelligence on customers, whether tools supplied by your CRM vendors, LinkedIn, Facebook, and any number of other research tools, there is little excuse not to be able to target an individual in a company very specifically.  If you want to reach the CFO, do the research and give the sales person the CFO’s name (or tell them how to find it before they make a call.)

“I want to [pitch my product]…..”  We know–everyone knows–that customers don’t care about your products.  So why do you design your prospecting programs around pitching your products?  It’s easy to guess the response and hit rate from those questions.  What are the key problems your product helps the customer address?  Again, with the right research, it’s pretty easy to find customer who have or are likely to have those problems.  Design your scripts to help identify people with those problems, who are interested in fixing it.  Hit rates on prospecting calls will sky rocket.

“I want to understand why you are interested in our [name the product]….”  This is the typical call that comes within minutes of downloading an eBook.  It’s part of the “high velocity” sales approach.  How does downloading a book on Sales Management indicate an interest in buying a CRM system?  What about the poor sales person who doesn’t even know the piece of content downloaded?

High velocity techniques can be very powerful.  If someone downloads an evaluation version of your software, don’t call trying to close them, call asking what they are trying to understand in the evaluation and help them structure an approach to have a successful outcome of the evaluation.  The point is, the conversation has to be relevant to what the customer is looking for.

Prepare your sales people to go “off script.”  Remember the prospect doesn’t have a copy of your script, so even if they are interested in the conversation, they will go the direction they want.  Make sure the sales person can continue to engage the customer.

There is no reason for any organization or individual to engage in clueless, ill prepared prospecting.  There are too many affordable tools.  There is too much good information about prospects–organizations and individuals.

If we are smart about our prospecting strategies, if we develop the right programs, if we provide sales people the right training and tools, sales people can be much more impactful, producing better results.

Marketing, Sales Enablement, Sales Managers–don’t have sales people waste the time doing meaningless prospecting.   You’re designing prospecting programs any way, make sure they are smart and they make the sales person look smart!

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  1. Great article David. I see sales leadership lacking the ability to provide the sales team with the right tools to do the job – and I don’t mean a piece of technology, but the right content, the right message and the right training on how to engage the prospect.

    Sad to say, but when you get those pitches on “you’ve downloaded an ebook” it’s more than likely the poor sales person is forced into this position rather than actively wanting to do the call.

    It’s really time that Sales Leadership stood up and wised up.

    • Richard: I think you are right on about this. I almost made a comment, Stop Making Sales People Look Stupid, They Do A Good Enough Job Of That Themselves. It’s really ease to see a good sales person executing a stupid, ill thought program, versus a bad sales person executing the same program. The latter are combative, don’t pick up on cues, etc. The former are stuck because management isn’t paying attention. Perhaps a good test of any program would be to have a manager make a 100 calls first, before inflicting it on their people. I bet that would stop thousands of bad campaigns 😉

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