The Worst Sales Advice We’ve Ever Heard (And Hope You’re Not Following)


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There’s a lot of bad sales advice out there in the world. It can sometimes rival the good sales advice. We don’t want you following bad sales advice or form bad habits. We want you to be a successful salesperson.

The Worst Sales Advice We've Ever Heard

“Look at how Person X is doing it. Do it like that.”

This is bad. Here’s why. Not every salesperson or sales process works the same way. Just because it works for another salesperson, sales process, OR company, does NOT mean that it will work for you. The way that you sell your company’s product/service is important and distinct from the way that another salesperson might sell it. One of the most difficult parts of selling is that it’s constantly evolving. You need to experiment every now and then. If a strategy isn’t working, stop and choose another.

Just because you know one successful salesperson that swears by a certain tactic or strategy, does not mean that it will work for you or your company.

“Just get out there and do it.” or “Get out there and make more calls.”

This advice is offensive just because it’s so vague. What does ‘do it’ even mean? Sure, picking up the phone often and constantly filling your pipeline with opportunities is a great step toward exceeding your quarterly sales quota. But vague advice about ‘getting out there’ isn’t productive.

High performing salespeople are more specific than that. Don’t just ‘do it’. Attach numbers to what you’re doing. How many times are you picking up the phone? How many emails are you sending to new prospects each week? How many meetings or phone calls do you have scheduled the next two weeks? There’s a sweet spot where your activity will begin to yield results. You have to be specific in order to find it.

“Making more calls” is also ineffective but it doesn’t force you to think about WHO you are calling. You can pick up the phone as many times as you want and fail to meet your sales quota by talking to the wrong people.

Who is your buyer?

Who needs your solution?

How can you find them?

And what method should you use to reach them?

Just picking up the phone more doesn’t matter if you’re not attaching numbers to your activity or calling the wrong person in the first place. Think about the quantity AND quality of the calls you make and the emails you send.

“You don’t have to ask for the sale.”

This is bad sales advice because it’s 100% false. You won’t get anywhere by continuing to schedule meetings with prospects to ‘explore the opportunity further’. If you are waiting for the customer to come to you and say ‘Ok! I’m ready to buy!’, you will not be a successful salesperson (and you may be living in a dream world).  At Sales Engine, we tell our clients to make the sales process explicit to their prospects. A big part of doing that is asking for the close after the prospect has been properly qualified.

“Cold calling is dead. Never cold call.”

Says who? Again, just because cold calling may not be effective for a certain salesperson or company, does not mean that you should rule it out. At Sales Engine, we believe in cold calling.

But it’s an entry point. It’s not a silver bullet.

In fact, our CEO, Craig Wortmann, gives some counterintuitive advice about calling your prospects: “Once you get him/her on the phone, work hard to end the conversation and get them off the phone.” You avoid being obnoxious if you don’t talk their ear off about how wonderful your product/service is and why they should buy it (please tell us you’re not spewing features and benefits in the first conversation). Let them know that you have a resource they should look at, get their email address (confirm it!), and say ‘thank you so much for your time’. Cold calling isn’t dead. It’s just a tool that is evolving.

Be a ‘yes man’ or ‘yes woman’.

The last thing you should do when you’re selling is make a promise you can’t keep. Don’t say “sure we can do that” if you don’t know or if you know that your company can’t deliver. You would be better off saying to your customer, “I’m don’t know, but let me get back to you on that.” You establish credibility by pretending not to know everything. You also avoid overextending your company’s resources. If you said ‘yes’ to an outrageous ask from a customer and your company doesn’t have the resources to deliver, you make both yourself and your company look bad.

You don’t have to say ‘yes’ all the time. You’re better off saying ‘I don’t know” or “no”.

Bulldog your way through the gatekeeper.

Just because the gatekeeper isn’t the decisionmaker in your deal, doesn’t mean they can’t be your advocate. When you talk with a gatekeeper, treat him or her as if you are talking with a CEO. This person spends most of their day blocking and tackling so that someone else can get through their day productively and efficiently. The gatekeeper can be your advocate if you communicate your message clearly and make a simple ask of them. If you’re otherwise rude or nasty to the person who answers your call, good luck reaching the decision-maker.

Leave a vague voicemail so they have a reason to call you back.

Being vague won’t get you anywhere. Think about this advice on a personal level. When was the last time you received a vague voicemail on your personal cell phone. Were you intrigued (did you want to know more)? Or were you annoyed (and promptly delete the voicemail?) If you want to annoy your prospects, go ahead and be vague. If you want to earn some credibility and get their attention, be direct.

A good starting point is to develop a sales trailer for your work. It’s short, simple, and generates interest by compelling the listener to ask themselves, “how do they do that?”.

Just keep talking.

Jesse Davis of RingDNA can’t stand when salespeople just…keep…talking: “Some salespeople think that the idea is to keep talking and talking so that a prospect doesn’t have time to hang up. But this tactic is extremely transparent. The best salespeople are the ones who know how to engage prospects by asking compelling questions and then offering expertise, rather than just diving into a wordy sales pitch.” We couldn’t agree more. Nothing is stopping your prospects from hanging up on you while you drone on and on.

When you keep talking, you stop listening. The art of conversation is an important skill (and discipline) for all salespeople to master.

This is the worst sales advice we’ve ever heard. But we’re sure it doesn’t end here. What’s the worst sales advice you’ve ever heard? Let us know in the coments below or on Twitter.

Thanks to Dan Waldschmidt, Daniel Newman, Anthony Iannarino, Geoff Winthrop, and Jesse Davis for contributing their own personal ‘worst sales advice’!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jenny Poore
Jenny is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Sales Engine, a sales consulting firm based in Chicago that helps companies build and tune their sales engine. Feel free to connect on Twitter: @salesengine and @salesengineJP.


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