Anatomy of the Worst Sales Call Ever

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 @ 22:04 PM

The company rep showed up and looked at the plumbing.  We had a very short discussion, mostly him telling me what he could do because he was an expert.  After about 10 minutes with me, he left.  Two days later I received an emailed proposal with several options and prices.  And that was it. I never heard from him again. 

It's easier to talk about some of the things he failed to do since he didn't do anything correctly. If we were to perform an analysis working backwards from the end of his (can't really call what he did a) sales process:

  • He didn't show that he was interested in getting my business.
  • He failed to call or follow up with me in any way.
  • There wasn't an intro paragraph to the email.
  • There wasn't a call to action.
  • He didn't qualify me.
  • He didn't learn about my time line.
  • He never talked with me about money.
  • He never asked what I wanted.
  • He didn't uncover any compelling reasons why I would buy.
  • He didn't appear to care.
  • He didn't attempt to develop a relationship.

When we first begin to work with new clients, we see a lot of salespeople exhibiting these classic mistakes.  They think they're selling but they're really just going through (a couple of) the motions of selling.  They say that 50% of success is just showing up.  He's showing up so he's probably getting some business because some of his competitors aren't even doing that much.  What if we were to quantify this?  Let's pretend that he closes something close to what many companies achieve when they have salespeople like this - 10%.  And let's suppose that since they deal mostly in commercial solutions, their average deal is closer to $100k, not the $10K (could that be why he didn't follow up?) he was looking for from me.  He could be selling $1.2 M a year and the company could actually be happy with his performance.  On the other hand, his competitors might be getting the other $10M+ and the company hasn't figured that out yet.

The real question from the scenario above is, how can this salesperson be that awful and who is responsible?

  • Him for not developing his own selling skills?
  • His sales manager for not recognizing his level of incompetence?
  • The hiring manager for selecting a D player?
  • The company for not providing training and development?
  • The company for not having more of a sales culture?
  • His sales manager for not providing coaching?
  • The company for not having a structured sales process?
What might we have learned about him if we had assessed him using Objective Management Group's Assessments?

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales management function, sales selection

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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