3 Sales Call Mistakes That Annoy Prospects

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Art Sobczak
Art Sobczak





Here's one for those of you who think that email will do your selling for you.

This is a call I received.

Rep: "Hello, I'm [name] with Computer Consultants. I'm calling because of the letter I had sent you."

Me: "Okay."

Rep: " ... Well, what did you think of it?"

Me: "I don't know what letter you're talking about."

Rep: "It was a six-page letter on internet security."

Me: "I didn't request it, right?"

Rep: "Uh, no."

Me: "Lots of stuff arrives here every day. If it's not from someone I know, or if I didn't request it, it usually goes in the can."

Rep: "Oh. Uh ... let me resend it then."

Me: "No."

Rep: [Silence]. "Well, why not?"

Me: "Because you haven't given me any reason to spend time listening to you or read a six-page letter. Or any letter for that matter."

Rep: "You should read it because we're the best at what we do."

Me: "Look, you've given me no reason to speak with you. I'm not interested."

Rep: [Sarcastically, and noticeably annoyed] "Well, I don't imagine you've heard of [a list of major companies]."

Me: "Uh huh."

Rep: "Those are just a few of the companies we work with. We're the best."

Me: "I've spent a couple minutes on the phone with you. All I know is that you say you've worked with big companies, which as a small business owner doesn't impress me. I also know you send out unsolicited letters, and you're becoming irritated with me, even though I have no idea what you do and how it would have any affect on me."

Rep: [Exasperated] "We analyze companies' internet security and exposure to risk, and provide comprehensive solutions to ensure they minimize or eliminate any potential downtime due to breaches resulting in internal computer and network failures."

Me: "Sorry, not interested."

What happened here? Let's analyze.

3 Mistakes That Make For a Sales Call Trainwreck

This is a good example of what happens when you stick someone on the phone without adequate sales training. When you put a person who lacks sales training on the phone, regardless of how much knowledge and passion they have about their product (which is great, by the way), they are unable to understand that everyone doesn't have the same knowledge or feelings they do. And that is frustrating for them.

If the guy would have used those very last few statements he made to me as an opening and then bridged into questions, I would have listened to him.

What would this have sounded like? For example:

Art, I'm [name] with Computer Consultants. We analyze companies' internet security and exposure to risk, and provide comprehensive solutions to ensure they minimize or eliminate any potential costly downtime due to internal computer and network failures. I'd simply like to ask a few questions to determine if we have a basis for a more in-depth conversation."

I would have listened to that. But alas, that's not what he said.

Now, let's look at the call's mistakes.

1) Lack of Information

There's no excuse for someone selling that level of sophisticated consulting service to not get information about the prospect before speaking with him or her.

To warm up the call, he could have asked someone at my company about our business, computer network, or internet security measures before taking any action. This would have allowed him to plan a more customized, on-target approach ... one that would have been interesting.

2) Relying Too Much on Mail

I have to wonder if salespeople are naïve, delusional, or just plain stupid when they think they can mail or email their sales message and assume it will travel further than the trash bin. if the written word could do an adequate job of selling more than a tiny percent of recipients, why would you be needed, anyway?

I've written plenty over the years about how to use the mail in pre-approach strategies. However, smart salespeople don't rely on email to do all of the selling while assuming the target will eagerly read it with interest.

This assumption got the call off on a horrible start. Our poor caller was already in a hole within the first 10 seconds. And I suspect it was not the first time.

Tough to make a career out of that.

3) "We're the Best"

Question: How do you react when a person -- whom you are already suspect of or flat out dislike -- makes an egotistical, unsubstantiated claim? You view it through the filters of your emotional prejudices and biases. You doubt it, resent it, and maybe even challenge it.

It further validates your negative feelings. I had already characterized this guy as a goof. He didn't let me down with his "We're the best" claim as a reason that I should listen to him.

He had not given me any indication whatsoever about what his company did, let alone how he could help me. That is all listeners care about.

It reminded me of other similar phrases that reps should avoid without having proper substantiation, such as:

  • "We're the biggest ... "
  • "We're the leading ..."
  • "We're the most respected ... " (one of my favorites)

If you want to use email to warm up your calls, that's great. But don't rely on it to do the selling for you.

Editor's note: This post originally appeared on Smart Calling Online and is republished here with permission.

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