Selling in today’s highly competitive business world requires more effort and energy than ever. However, there are certain things that can work against you, especially when you sell in a B2B environment. Sales people can do a variety of things that annoy decision makers and prospects to the point they actually keep the sales process from moving forward.
Here are a few things that irk decision makers.
- Sales people who can’t articulate their value proposition. Far too few sales people can adequately and clearly state the value that their product(s) or service offers. Forget what your marketing department tells you to say. Instead, speak in terms that matter to your prospect and help them see—within 15-30 seconds—how your product, service or solution will benefit them.
- Sales people who call to “touch base” or “check in.” Decision makers are far too busy to talk to people who don’t have a genuine or valuable offer to consider. “Checking in” is no longer a viable sales strategy. You need to ensure that you are providing some type of value in EVERY interaction you have with a prospect or existing customer.
- Sales people that go overtime during sales calls and presentations. Most decision makers spend the bulk of their day in meetings and have little tolerance for sales calls that go into overtime. Respect your prospect’s time and strive to finish every meeting early or ahead of schedule.
- Sales people who misrepresent themselves to executive assistants in order to get connected with the decision maker. It boggles my mind that people actually believe this strategy will help them close a deal! Yet, it happens every day. A better approach is to befriend the EA and enlist her help.
- Sales people that ask basic questions that could be answered by a subordinate or a quick browse through the prospect’s website. I made this mistake a number of years when talking to the President of a mid-sized business. Instead of asking high-value questions that were strategic in nature I focused on details that could easily have been answered by a Regional Manager—which, not surprisingly, is where I ended up getting shunted to.
- Sales people that deliver a canned pitch, presentation or proposal. I still can’t believe how many reps launch into a canned pitch instead of adapting and tailoring their presentation to each prospect’s situation. Of course, this is usually a result of doing little or no research prior to the meeting.
- Sales people who leave a long and rambling voice mail message with little or no value. “Hi Mr. Prospect, it’s Derek with No Claim Insurance. We specialize in helping businesses like yours reduce their insurance remiums. We have been doing this since 1978 and our client list includes companies like…” You get the idea. A VM with little or no value will be deleted within seconds.
- Sales people who claim their solution is “easy” to implement. Nothing in business is easy anymore and pretending otherwise just reduces your credibility. It is far more effective to tell people up front what will be required and follow that up with exactly how you will help them integrate your solution into their business.
- Sales people that use outdated closing tactics. “Would you prefer red or black?” “If I could show you how my product will save you time will you buy it?” I shudder every time I hear someone use a tactic that was developed in the mid-late 1990s. Times have changed. Prospects and decision makers are smarter, wiser and using tired, manipulative closing tactics only alienates them.
- Sales people that waste time trying to “build rapport”. “Hey, I see you fish; I fish too. Where do you like to fish?” Gaaaaag! Do you REALLY think a busy decision maker wants to talk about his fishing excursions? Although it’s possible, it’s more likely he (or she) wants you to get to the point of the meeting and the reason for your call. True rapport happens when you demonstrate that you respect their time, understand their business issues AND can offer a solution to those problems.