We Need to Stop Ruining Sales: An Appeal to Salespeople From a Salesperson

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The one thing that has always rung true to me is that sales must be helpful. The predominant indicator of a good sales rep is one who is helpful for their prospects.

No one wants to be sold to. But decision makers do want helpful advice. So what is the right way to get in front of these people?

The world of sales and marketing has changed. People block your emails, ignore your InMails, throw away your direct mail, delete your voicemail, etc. Why has this happened? Buyers have blocked salespeople out of their lives thanks to the scores of unhelpful sales reps just in it for themselves. After years of the same old generic, selfish outreach, prospects have written us off.

I don't blame them.

Here's the sad truth. Even if you are a sales rep who does a ton of research on a company and has a plethora of relevant reasons to reach out, you can’t get in front of decision makers today. Have unprepared, non-helpful sales reps over the years killed sales for the reps who actually do a good job at researching and customizing the sales process? I think so.

So I ask you, sales reps out there: Do a better job. Be persistent, not pushyIt will help all of us.

But what if you are a good, helpful sales rep? How are we supposed to get through to the decision makers with our good and helpful advice if the bad sales reps have ruined it for all of us? 

Your job as a sales rep is to help your prospects-- not to harass them. Not to think about yourself and your number. Sales is not about you, contrary to what you might believe. It is about being helpful. We need to focus on identifying good fit buyers through careful research, offering help, and doing good, honest work (all the time!). If we all band together and do this, maybe we all will get through a bit more.

Sales reps could start to be seen as actually being helpful. Decision makers might actually open up to a call or an email from us. Instead of thinking, "Oh great, another stupid outreach from a sales rep, *hit spam*," maybe their first thought could be "Hmmm ... this sales rep is reaching out because they have reason to believe that they can help me. *open*"

I have seen far too many emails sent to the wrong person, who has nothing to do with what you sell, with no reason to care because it won’t help them. If sales reps actually reached out with helpful things to say I bet we would all do better as a whole.

So let’s all do a better job at prospecting good fit companies based on research at the right time for them. Your job as a sales rep is to help. Being persistent in sales is important, but being genuinely helpful shows our prospects why we are sales reps in the first place.

We are sales reps because we know we offer something that will help someone. And who knows? That someone just might be you. 

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Editor's note: Ali Powell is an inbound marketing specialist at HubSpot. She originally published this article on The Womenpreneurs, and it is reprinted here with permission. Join the Women in Sales Slack channel to connect with like-minded ladies in sales here.