I’m often asked the fastest way to improve sales productivity. The answer is simple and should be obvious, “Stop Chasing Customers/Prospects You Can’t Help!”
That statement is likely to elicit a resounding “Dugghhhh!” The reality, however, is that sales people waste too much time chasing customers they can’t help or worst, customers that don’t want/need their help.
Every day, I get literally 100’s of emails, and at least 20 calls from sales people wanting to sell me something. Most don’t care about what our company does, they just believe they can “help me,” pitching their products/services. Most pitches are irrelevant to me and my company. As a result, they waste my time, their time, and their brand equity.
I wish I could say some small percentage did research on me or my company, but it’s not evident in their communication with me.
Why do so many sales people waste their time chasing customers they can’t help? Some thoughts:
They don’t care about helping, their job is selling. They and their managers believe selling is simply a numbers game (it is, but you have to look at the numbers in the right way). The more emails, the more calls, the more likely you hit your numbers. The attitude is literally dialing/emailing for dollars.
Continuing from the previous point, they don’t know how to help. While they would never admit it, they view their job as presenting their product, it’s the customer’s job to figure out whether they need it. I don’t know that this is selling, though people with sales titles do this. It’s actually easier and faster for me to hit up a website. Plus, I get better information than dealing with someone who is ill equipped to go off script, “Can I connect you to someone who really understands this stuff?????”
They conduct non-discovery. Yes, you read it right, it’s non-discovery. They are asking what they think are discovery questions, but they are meaningless. Of course I’m interested in growing my business, of course I want to increase the profitability of the company, of course I want more qualified prospects. Just because I reply affirmatively to those, doesn’t mean I want or need what you are selling, or that your solution can even help me and my company.
They don’t take the time to understand who they can help and why they might need help. Sales people understand their products, “We solve these problems, we help you achieve these things….” But they struggle to translate that into identifying specifically who needs help. They know they are supposed to call “these personas” in “these industries.” Maybe they even know they are supposed to ask “these questions,” looking for certain answers.
We do our best work and we create the greatest value for customers who want and need our help. Our job is to find them by focusing on our ICP. Then doing our homework, within that ICP, trying to determine who is most likely to have a need now–or by helping increase their sense of urgency about doing something now.
We are responsible for producing revenue, but regardless of our wishful thinking and persistence in calling people, we don’t produce it unless we focus on those who need and want our help now!
Joel Lyles says
One question that was brought up by this post: what’s the best way to engage customers you’re already helping to a certain extent? For example:
A) You can’t help them directly, but you want them to point you to other colleagues in their company or even community you could help?
B) You can’t help them directly, but you want to get them connected to a third party? For example, I have a friend that sells telephony systems and I sell IT products. I think I may be able to help both my client and my friend, but I’m not sure how to engage my client.
David Brock says
Joel, firs, sorry for the slow reply, I’ve been traveling. I guess my response to your questions is, “It depends.” IF someone contacts me or if, in discussion, I can point them to resources or people that would be more helpful to them, I”m glad to do that.
In the case of pointing them to other suppliers, for example, the phone systems, I always ask their permission first. Hope this is helpful. Regards, Dave