I read an interesting article last week published in London Loves Business. The article featured results from a YouGov poll that appeared to have been conducted on behalf of pipeline management software firm Pipedrive. The headline claimed that “UK firms lose £15,000 per month to disorganised or inaccurate sales activities” and was based on the results of a survey of 1,006 UK based sales people.

I’ll leave you to read the full article for yourselves (if you wish) as I’m going to focus on just one statistic that was listed towards the bottom of the piece. The statistic was that “45% of sales people feel customers are becoming more resistant to sales activity!”

The question I would ask the nearly 500 sales people that said this was the case is, what are you going to do about it? To keep doing what you currently do is madness!

What the article did not clarify is the definition of ‘sales activity’ but let’s assume they meant the ‘business as usual’ sales activities that b2b sales teams have been relying on for decades. The activities fall under the heading of ‘prospecting’ and the term is taken from the mining industry. Many holes are often dug for nothing before the miner lands on a rich deposit of ore.

Sales people are taught that it’s a numbers game and our ‘hole digging’ prospecting is usually via introductory emails, LinkedIn and social media messages. These tactics are proving more and more impotent as the sheer volume of sales messages received each day is overwhelming and annoying for the recipient.

Interestingly I have noticed a huge drop in cold calling by telephone.

The reasons we keep doing the ‘same old’ are?

  • Every now and then it works
  • It’s what our managers tell us to do
  • We don’t know what else to do
  • It’s our job

“All very interesting Stuart” I hear you saying, “But what about a solution?”

Well for starters, most sales activities are about US, our business, our sales process, our pipeline. When sales people cold call me their questions are clearly designed to help them sell to me. Worst still they try and ‘qualify me’ before I’ve even expressed any interest.

DO NOT PICK UP THE PHONE OR CONTACT ME UNLESS….

YOU have done your research. Most people have a huge digital footprint and mine is MASSIVE. Look at my LinkedIn profile, check out my website, read my blogs. Get a feel for me as both a person and a businessman. If your product or service really is of benefit to me then you need to very quickly articulate that succinctly. Your message must be completely tailored to me and my business and convey exactly how YOU can add value to my business?

Think of the AIDA acronym – You need to get my Attention, generate Interest, build Desire and want me to take Action to move forward to the next step in my BUYING process.

Generic emails and social media messages are simply spam!

I hate it when sales people call me and as part of their introduction they use the following phrases:

  • “I work for (insert name of business)”
  • “I represent (insert name of business)”
  • “You have come up on my database for a call”
  • “I’ve taken over the area”
  • “How are you today?”
  • “I was just wondering if you might be interested”
  • “I saw your profile on LinkedIn”

Much better to keep it simple and introduce yourself in the following way:

“My name is (and use both your first and second name) and what I do is…..”

I’m not interested in your company name at this point, unless it’s IBM,Accenture or the like. Remove all ‘padding words’ and information, I don’t care! Just use the fewest words to articulate who you are, what you do and why the hell are you on my phone?

If you have been on telephone sales training courses then you have probably been told to:

  • Use their name as much as possible
  • Sound happy and jolly
  • Don’t ask them if now is a good time to talk
  • Only ask open questions
  • Only speak to the decision maker
  • Match and mirror my words and tone

I used to teach ALL these in the 1980s but NOT anymore! I don’t have time to explain the reasons why all are SO WRONG here, but do drop me a line if you think they are still valid today.

I’ll leave you with one final thought….

At the same time as sales people are doing research on target prospects, their target prospects are doing research on what they want to buy and from WHO? What does your digital footprint say about you and your business?

Thanks for reading.

Stuart Allen @StuartAllenFCMI

01905 384314 or email stuart@thesalesperformance.co.uk

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Social media and sales training in Worcester, Worcestershire and across the UK.