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Sales is exhilarating. The feeling of helping a client with a problem and watching them succeed is equivalent to conquering a mountaintop or completing a marathon. The end satisfaction makes you want to do it again and again. At Lesson.ly, we get that feeling when we watch a client grow and succeed with our product.

However, some sales representatives don’t get to experience this feeling often. Frankly, it’s their fault.

Here are five behaviors that annoy prospects and ultimately lead to lost sales. 

1) They don’t act like people.

We are taught that sales is a numbers game. "Know your metrics" is a common phrase sales managers drill into their reps.

But at the end of the day, people buy products and services from people they connect and build trust with. Research shows this:

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What does it mean to be a human salesperson? Let’s break it into a few actionable tactics:

  • Forget about your quota, and stop thinking about the prospect as a number.
  • Write a handwritten (yes, handwritten) note to thank prospects or clients. There’s sentiment in tangibility.
  • Reference things you learned in the initial discussion -- where they’re from, the trips they're going on with their team, the things that keep them busy, or how they grew their business -- throughout the entire process.

2) They dance around the weaknesses of their product and insist that it’s perfect for the prospect.

The reality is, nothing is perfect. Rarely will a vendor offer every single feature, in the correct order, to meet each and every prospect's needs. But despite this fact, salespeople are often unwilling to be transparent.

When there is a capability missing, the best salespeople:

  • Gauge how important it is to the prospect
  • Understand where it is currently lies on the product roadmap
  • Speak clearly and concisely to how that capability will or will not be available

Above all, the best salespeople are okay telling a prospect early on that their product or service isn’t the perfect fit.

This does two things:

  • It allows the prospect to truly question if they have a need that can be solved with the product.
  • It positions you as a consultant rather than a salesperson. It opens the relationship up for the next conversation, whether it’s in their current role or a future role.

People get quickly annoyed when a salesperson tries to fit a square peg in a round hole, but they appreciate honesty.

3) A messy hand-off between prospectors (BDR/SDRs) and closers.

Today, it's common practice for sales organizations to split prospecting and closing into two separate roles.

Aaron Ross popularized this idea in his book Predictable Revenue. One of the key aspects to getting sales specialization right and making sure your prospects have a great experience is to master the hand-off from the BDR to the closer. A bad hand-off is like a 400-meter relay with a baton drop in the last stretch -- it's a big disappointment.

Think about it. The prospect converses with a respectful BDR, and they learn about the product and the challenges it may solve for them, their role, and their business.

Then, without warning, the prospect is talking to a complete stranger. The relationship built thus far becomes fractured. The buyer feels confused and neglected, and therefore, reluctant to even continue with the sales process.

The solution is simple: make the hand-off clear. Once you define when the hand-off will occur, clearly relay this information to the prospect as early as possible in the process.

Here's what this might sound like:

"Hey John, based on the stage of our discussions, I'm going to introduce you to Jane, our senior marketing consultant who can walk you through our product. I've shared with her (X, Y, Z) that we've already talked about.”

A warm introduction, even if it's over email, will go a long way. Furthermore, the rep who took the baton needs to be prepared, friendly, and reference any notes that were gathered by the prospector.

4) They don’t smile or laugh.

Just do it. If you want your prospect to have passion and enthusiasm for your product, you need to demonstrate it first. Don't take yourself too seriously, and make it a point to smile and laugh right out of the gate.

Some inspiration:

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5) They shove prospects through boring, untailored monologue-demos.

Nothing annoys the prospect more than when they give you 45 minutes of discovery, and the sales rep fails to listen. Instead, the salesperson carries on asking the five to 10 questions they had prepared, and neglects to change their presentation or demo based on the buyer's answers. Painful.

If you don't want to annoy a prospect, treat their words like a treasure map. Take the correct route depending on the answers or clues they give you.

As cliché as it is, be yourself, but be informative. Prospects want common ground. They want to laugh and learn with you. They want honesty and a good use of their time. What they don't want is to be treated like a tally on a scoreboard.

What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments.

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Originally published Jun 5, 2015 8:30:00 AM, updated February 01 2017

Topics:

Inbound Sales