The sales playbook is constantly changing, and part of its evolution has to do with the increasingly knowledgeable consumer. Your audience knows a lot more than you think. They even know that your sales reps need to change the way they sell to keep up, and they aren’t the least bit afraid to call your reps out for poor sales etiquette. The pressure is on — and if your sales reps don’t tidy up their act, they risk putting your organization’s entire reputation on the line. To help your sales reps kick bad habits, here are 5 practices they need to stop using immediately!
1. Cold Calling
We’ll reiterate this fact until blue in the face. Cold calling is dead. With the amount of information at your fingertips today, there is no excuse to make a phone call without any knowledge about who you’re calling. It’s a waste of time and, frankly — ineffective. Only 2 percent of cold calls actually result in an appointment. When your reps make cold calls, it also sends a strong message to upper management that they aren’t utilizing all their resources (cough, CRM, cough).
2. Pitching Instead of Listening
Spoiler alert — your prospects are fully aware they are being sold to. They also know that they hold all the power. It’s important for reps to ease off the pitch and start exercising their listening skills. The ratio of talk to listen is usually around 90/10 — not good. It should be more like 70/30. When you spend all your time talking instead of listening, you miss the opportunity to learn more about your prospect, build a trusted relationship and eventually sell or up-sell them. The more global issue is that you’re failing to nurture them.
The buyer’s journey isn’t about you, it’s about them.
3. Refusing Technology
Technology is not an option, it’s a necessity. You need it to keep pace with your competitors. You need it to communicate with prospects in the way they demand to be communicated with. You need it to survive as an organization and as an individual rep working the 21st century market. Those are the facts.
By refusing to adopt a CRM, or use sales prospecting tools, you’re not only making your job much harder than it needs to be, you’re failing to serve your prospects to the best of your ability. Your CRM ensures you only spend time talking to the most valuable leads. It also organizes and automates data collection so you can get a better sense of who your prospect is and make warm calls instead of cold. Ultimately, technology enables you to have the right conversation with the right person at the right time. It takes the guess work out of selling, and creates an optimal experience for buyers.
4. Not Following Up
This is sales 101, folks. It could be that sales reps forget, or that leads get misplace. But for one reason or another, sales reps aren’t always following up with their prospects. We said it once and we’ll say it again — the key to modern day sales is to nurture your prospects. That means creating valuable and considerate touchpoints along their path to a purchasing decision. In other words — follow up!
Word to the wise — don’t just call whenever you please. Be mindful of your prospect’s schedule and call when it makes the most sense for them. You wouldn’t call a restaurant manager during dinner rush. Similarly, executives hate being contacted between 12p.m. and 1p.m.. Surveys suggest your best timeframe is Wednesday or Thursday between 8a.m. and 9a.m. or 4p.m. and 5p.m. (Inside Sales Box).
5. Sugar-Coating Your Company, Product or Service
61 percent of prospects read online reviews before making a purchasing decision. 72 percent consult Google, and return 2 or 3 times to dig up more information. Point being — your potential customers are doing A LOT of research online before they get to you. They already know who you are, where you stand in relation to competitors, and why your company, product or service is worth considering. They also know what problems your past customers have had.
Leave the sweet talk at home and be transparent about your offering. If you’re up front about anything they might view as a negative, and prepare a way to spin that negative into a positive — you not only stand a chance at earning their trust and business, you also exhibit how knowledgeable you are about the products or services you offer.
Kick these bad habits to the curb and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier, more productive and efficient sales cycle. Equally important — you’ll be providing your customers with the kind of buyer experience they have grown to expect. Interested in taking your sales team a step further? Sales and marketing alignment is the next big move you absolutely need to make. Learn more about sales and marketing alignment here.