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By Liz Stone October 31, 2017

Is Your Sales Team Spooking Potential Customers?

We're all familiar with the dreaded phone call from a unwelcome sales person. The phone rings from a number you haven't seen before. You consider letting it go to voicemail, but curiosity wins. You answer - and immediately regret it.

On the other end is someone who doesn't seem to understand your business and doesn't seem to understand the word "no". The call can't end fast enough. Once it's over, you put the phone number on your "do not answer" list, and go on with your day with a bad taste left behind about the company that just solicited you.

Anyone in charge of a sales team does not want their sales people responsible for this kind of prospect reaction.  While it's important that your sales people are driven, there's a fine line when "driven" turns to "disturbing". Bad sales communications are a sure way to lose business opportunities and are completely avoidable with the right coaching and training.

6 Examples of Spooky Sales Tactics

There are way more than six sales tactics that are turning off your potential customers, but here are some common ones I see across both email and phone all the time. 

  1. Use of scare tactics - Scare tactics is the method of trying to scare the prospect into making a decision by highlighting how bad their current solution is or the negative things that will happen if they don't go with what you sell. This kind of tactic rarely works as it comes across as manipulative and insulting to the buyer. A better approach is to focus on the value your company's solution provides to them and guiding them to see the benefits they will receive by purchasing from you. 
  2. Overusing the prospect's name - Dale Carnegie wrote "one of the best ways to win friends and influence people is to remember their names." While it's scientifically proven that humans respond positively to the sound of their names, overuse can come off as insincere. This seems to be especially common in emails that auto-populate the recipient name in the copy. When writing your e-mail, read the email out loud to make sure it sounds like it's coming from a genuinely interested salesperson—not a robot. 
  3. Going for the decision-maker too soon - I had a bad experience recently with an Inside Sales Person who I brought into my company for a demo. While I really liked his solution, my boss wanted to go in a different direction. I relayed this news to my salesperson, and he resorted to calling and emailing my boss directly without involving me. I found this to be very disrespectful and while I still like the solution he sells and would have considered it in the future, it's unlikely I will ever purchase from his company due to his actions.
  4. Not taking "no" for an answer - There is a fine line between driven and disturbing. Once a prospect has given a firm "no" the tables have turned and the salesperson should not force the relationship. The responsibility has now shifted to the buyer to return to the salesperson if they are interested later on. This doesn't mean the relationship should end; periodic check-ins and putting these buyers on a marketing mailing list are great ways to keep your brand top-of-mind without crossing boundaries. 
  5. Telling the buyer they are wrong - We've all heard the slogan "the customer is always right". Okay, the customer isn't actually always right, more often they aren't. But telling them outright that they are wrong or made a mistake can embarrass and anger them. This becomes the classic test of a salesperson's ego - it doesn't mean you should let potential customers walk all over you, but be careful in how you respond in these kinds of delicate situations so that you don't damage the relationship.  
  6. Not being authentic - At the end of the day, people want to buy from real people that they like. And the kinds of people we all like are those that are true to themselves. Each of your salespeople has their own personality and while they should be using a common approach, their personal style should shine through. For instance, if a more introverted salesperson is trying to come off as outgoing, it will seem fake. The same goes for a front-end sales person who is trying to act like a product expert. Know your people's strengths, put them in roles that complement their strengths, and encourage them to be the best and most authentic versions of themselves in prospect-facing situations.

How To Fix Ineffective Sales Tactics

Fortunately, all of the poor tactics listed and many others can be fixed through sales team coaching, training, and resetting sales culture. 

1. Sales Coaching

Does one of your reps have great potential, but fails to make their numbers? Are they frequently on the cusp of closing a deal only to let it slip away? If you have a salesperson who can't quite "get there" one-on-one coaching is a great way to help them. It gets them away from the larger group to uncover what's going wrong, make a plan to fix it, and provide personalized guidance and support to help them improve. 

 2. Sales Training 

Your sales team may be operating in their own silos using the tactics they personally believe are working well. Perhaps they were trained before and it didn't stick, or maybe they haven't received formal training yet. If a sales team isn't on the same page in terms of message and approach, you can bet they are losing business opportunities by using bad habits that buyers don't like. Training is a great way to teach an entire team best practices, set a sales culture,  and improve overall sales performance. 

3. Ongoing Review

Sales coaching and sales training shouldn't be a one-time thing. Once your team has received initial training, they will take what they've learned, mesh it with what they already knew, and go on their way. It's important to check-in regularly to make sure they are still following the preferred approach and using the desired message. If either of these things (sales approach/message) change, that is also a catalyst for training, or else you'll have people following an old approach where a new one is needed. Lastly, new hires need to be quickly integrated into your sales culture, and a common sales training program is a great way to bring them up to speed. 

4. Sales Culture

Negative sales culture is another reason why we see these kinds of tactics employed. A high-pressure environment will cause many salespeople to resort to whatever behavior it takes find relief, even if that means beating to death poorly-qualified leads or dead opportunities. This could be the result of a compensation plan that's too heavy on dollars brought in or tracking the wrong activities as signs of success. If you're seeing poor performance levels, the first place to look is internally at the environment your sales people are operating in every day. 

If you think your salespeople may be spooking potential customers, book a free 30-minute consultation with one of our sales consultants to talk about your experience and identify the best way to improve close rates and sales performance. 

Topics: Sales Management, Sales Coaching, Sales Training, Sales Team Enablement

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