Skip to main content

Sales is hard on a good day, why are some sales people making it worse for the rest of us?

August 2, 2023

For starters, I am not talking about car sales, furniture sales, door to door sales and things like that.  I am referring to corporate B2B sales where you have to “dial for dollars” on the regular.  Wow, I just really dated myself didn’t I?   

What is “dialing for dollars” anyway?  Direct dialing and voicemail are pretty much useless as an effective prospecting strategy today.  Back when I first started selling (about 28 years ago), people would actually pick up their phones and check their voicemails.  Since the dawn of caller ID it’s become much easier to identify and ignore inbound sales calls.  However, even with caller ID, you could still leave a voicemail and get an occasional call back if it was a well-timed and well-crafted one.  But, very few sales professionals leave messages anymore.  Sales prospecting has almost completely evolved into the digital space. 

This is where my head really starts to hurt. 

I have been a sales professional my entire career, mostly in the technology field.  I have sold into every level of the organization from the C-suite on down.  Selling to Fortune 500 companies, start-ups and everything in-between.  So, it’s safe to say that I have developed a pretty good, well rounded skill set.  However, that doesn’t mean that learning has stopped for me.  I still pick up new ideas and strategies from my peers, books, blog posts, articles, etc.  As our world evolves, so must our techniques and approaches.  I am not saying this to brag or pound my chest, it’s just to give you some context as I break down what I think is wrong with today’s sales approaches and why they are ruining prospecting for the rest of us. 

Back when everyone started to use emails on a daily basis for internal communications, I found that mixing in emails with phone calls and voicemails was fairly effective in reaching my prospecting targets.  Email allowed us to craft a succinct message and get it in front of a prospect very easily.  Then back in 2002 when LinkedIn was created I truly fell in love.  There is literally a plethora of data that you can mine from a well-crafted LinkedIn profile (I promise write future posts on how to mine the best nuggets from a profile).  Combining nuggets of personal information from a LinkedIn profile and Google search, with an email or voicemail allowed me to make a quick personal connection with my prospect and increased the probability that I would get a call or message back. 

Well, fast forward to today… it’s 8:00 am in the morning and my work inbox has no less than a half dozen in-bound prospecting emails.  By Lunchtime I have double that number and by the end of the day I could have up to 30 or 40.  Oh, and since many companies are outsourcing the prospecting function now, you literally get hit around the clock as emails are coming from all different time zones.  That is just in email!  LinkedIn used to be like a secret fishing spot for prospecting.  Many used it as an online resume to help keep their job history up to date and it was a fantastic place to network and look for employment (and still is by the way).  But today, it’s harder and harder to appreciate the true value of the tool because we get inundated with unsolicited InMails in our message box, paid advertisements in the feeds and totally random, impersonal requests (or invites) to connect. 

Ok, ok… so why am I complaining?  Times change, technology evolves… I get it.  What frustrates me is that there is so much lack of creativity and such a penchant for volume over quality that it makes it harder than necessary for the true professionals that have honed their craft with practice and finesse to succeed.  The tsunami of pure crap that is coming through to our desktops and mobile devices is so bad that people mostly just hit the delete button without reading the actual content.  So I have a message to all the newbies out there who are blindly shooting holes in our profession: 

For each poorly written email or message that you send, you are not only wasting your time and company’s money, you are killing off the hopes of a good sales person getting an email or message read.  That in turn is killing YOUR future chances of the same.  For God’s sake, use spell check!  Read your email before you hit send… then read it again… out loud… and make sure it sounds like the spoken language and not like it was written by a six year old.  I know that you probably have a boss that thinks they are great sales mentor and they probably are telling you that volume is critical and that you have to send n number of emails to get n number of responses.  Well, there is some truth to that, but it has diminishing returns if your messaging sucks.  Please, at least do some minimal research on your target before you reach out.  Even if you are given a list of contacts from A to Z, look them up, find their website and skim it.  I can’t tell you how many times I have received emails or InMails where statements were made about me or my company as if they did research, but it was clear that they didn’t even go to the website.  I know this because what was said was so blatantly incorrect. I have even gone so far as to reply to the message asking what it was about me or my company that made them reach out.  Almost 100% of the time, they don’t even reply. 

I could go on for several more paragraphs, but I won’t do that to you.  Instead, I am going to wage a campaign right here on the Savvy Grapevine.  In future posts, I will point out the horrible mistakes that people are making every day and try to help them improve upon what they are doing.  I will even make examples out of the successful prospecting attempts as there are some good ones out there.  This war that I want to wage on poor sales techniques will only be successful if we call the bad ones on their BS and applaud the good ones.  I would love to hear about your experience with this kind of thing and if you have any good or fun examples, please share them in the comments or email me and we can dissect them together!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *