Not all shortcuts are created equal. Some, like scheduling follow-up emails or creating a repeatable framework for researching prospects, streamline your day without harming the quality of your work. Others save you time but damage your results -- meaning you’ll ultimately be less productive for using them.
As the expression goes, “If you don’t have time to do it right, you won’t have time to do it again.” Steer clear of these seven shortcuts, or you’ll only create more work for yourself.
1) Researching Your Prospect During the Call
Researching your prospect while you’re on the phone with them is better than not researching them at all -- but barely. If you’re scrolling through their LinkedIn profile and company website, you can’t pay attention to what they’re saying. Not only will you miss valuable information, but you’ll sound distracted. Few buyers will be interested in scheduling another meeting with someone who’s not paying attention right now.
Make sure you space your calls far enough apart you can prepare before each one. Better yet, review your scheduled meetings for the next day before you leave at night. Doing your research after normal business hours (rather than during) frees up additional selling time.
2) Trying to Connect With Prospects at the Same Time Every Day
Some salespeople settle into rigid calling and emailing routines. For example, they might call new prospects every morning, send emails in the afternoon, and contact existing opportunities in the hour before they leave the office.
The problem with sticking to a schedule? It’s difficult to connect with a buyers who's on a different one. If your prospect never gets into the office before 10 a.m., they’ll miss your 9 a.m. call every day. If another prefers to check their emails at the crack of dawn, your mid-day messages will always get buried.
3) Running Your Demo and Discovery On the Same Call
Conducting discovery and a demo on the same call is like killing two birds with one stone, right?
Wrong. Your demo should be highly customized to your audience’s needs, desires, and goals -- and you can’t achieve that level of customization without doing prep work.
Use the discovery call to diagnose the buyer’s current situation and what they’re hoping the future will look like. In between discovery and the demo, identify which product features will help them reach this better future. Then craft your presentation around these features and their benefits.
4) Not Making a To-Do List
It might feel more efficient to keep track of undone tasks in your mind rather than on paper or in a virtual list, but you’ll end up losing precious hours. No one’s memory is faultless: Inevitably, you’ll forget details or entire tasks.
While adding an item like, “Send Jamie Hills the blog post we discussed” takes an additional 10 seconds, failing to execute on that could delay the deal. You’ll spend far more time re-engaging your prospect than if you'd followed through on your commitment in the first place.
5) Sending the Same Content to Every Buyer
It may be easy to send the same content to every buyer, but it’s not effective. Imagine the majority of your prospects are finance managers. One might be focused on developing accounting processes for her company’s global expansion, another is concerned with reducing operational expenses, and the third is prioritizing rewriting her company's expense policy.
If you forward an ebook about decreasing overhead to all three of these managers, it will only resonate with the second. Content should add value and help you establish credibility. To do that, it must be relevant to the individual prospect’s situation.
Hone in on your prospect’s likely priorities by looking at their site, browsing their company’s open jobs (which tells what areas they’re expanding in), reading specific job descriptions for your prospect’s department (which gives you granular insight into their team’s goals), and checking out their social media profiles.
6) Relying On a Single Point of Contact
According to the latest research from CEB, there’s an average of 6.8 stakeholders involved in every B2B purchasing decision. Relying on a single point of contact within the company is a recipe for disaster: If they get sick, go on vacation, or leave their job, you’ll probably need to start from scratch.
And that’s not factoring in your contact’s internal influence. Maybe they don’t have a lot of social capital at their organization, or they’re new and ultimately unwilling to recommend any big changes. The wrong customer champion dramatically reduces your chances of closing.
To increase the odds, work directly with as many stakeholders as possible. Ask your original contact to connect you with their coworkers so you can learn more about their individual priorities, buying criteria, and objectives. These details will help you tailor your message to each stakeholder and build consensus.
7) Trying to Go Around the Gatekeeper
Some salespeople try to avoid the gatekeeper at all costs. They’ll call the decision maker at odd hours, ask for their cell number instead of the office line, and remain vague about their intentions whenever they do end up talking to an executive assistant.
However, the gatekeeper doesn’t need to be your enemy -- in fact, he can be your ally. Your prospect trusts him. If you get the gatekeeper’s approval, not only will you have an easier time connecting with the buyer, you’ll also have more credibility from the get-go.
With that in mind, always treat gatekeepers with respect and courtesy. Instead of circumventing them, go out of your way to talk to them.
You might even ask the decision maker, “Is it okay if I ask [gatekeeper] a couple questions about [prospect’s company] so I can get another perspective?”
If they say yes, you’ll have a valuable opportunity to learn from a true insider.
These seven shortcuts end up adding to your workload, not reducing it. If you want to be as successful as possible, skip them. Follow the sales process and success will come to you.
Originally published Jan 17, 2017 8:30:00 AM, updated June 15 2021