Top 10 Mistakes Salespeople Make on the Phone (Funny Read)

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 13, 2014 @ 06:08 AM


Seller on the PhoneEarlier this week, I wrote the "Get Your Butt Out of Your Head" article.  At that same tournament, I heard an even funnier story from its director.  He told us about a team who went 0-7, losing each game by the mercy rule.  For those of you who aren't familiar with it, if a team is losing by 12 runs or more after 4 full innings, the game is stopped, showing mercy to the team who was getting slaughtered.

As the story goes, while the parents were back in their hotels, contemplating suicide, worrying about the mental health of their kids, and calling their therapists to deal with their horrible week, the kids on the losing team threw a party!  They even invited the beloved tournament director, and when he arrived, he asked each kid for a word that described their week.  All the answers were great, but when he asked the last kid for his word, the kid said, "Joy."  When pushed for an explanation, the kid simply said that, "When a team plays against us, we give them joy!" 

Isn't that a great way to frame losing?

Speaking of losing, is it any wonder that most salespeople lose when it comes to their prospecting calls and emails?  Most calls end with a polite, but disappointed, "Thanks for your time" and most emails are either deleted or ignored.  Would you like to know why?  Well, both the calls and emails suck!

To help you understand why, take a look inside your junk or spam folder.  As you go down the list, I'm sure you'll see emails from people who want to give you free vacations, make your body parts larger, hook you up with people who want sex, need your help to transfer millions of dollars into your bank account, offer discounted prescription drugs, or a myriad of other offers.  Additionally, most of the subject lines are in ALL CAPS, all small letters, have ,punctuation' and/or "spellling errrors", or all of the above.  When you look at the FROM column, you'll see that most of these emails are from the name of an offer instead of the name of a person.  If you ever wondered how the spam filters and email programs know which emails to move to your junk folder, it's because they look, smell, feel and sound like spam!

Now think about most prospecting calls.  It's not a question as to whether or not they are bad, it's probably more about how bad they really are.  If you or your loved ones are guilty of any of the following 10 mistakes, the calls really do suck:

  1. The calls are scripted.
  2. They begin with "Hello", "Good morning", "Good afternoon", or "Yes".
  3. They have "My name is" or "This is" early in the call.
  4. They fail to ask a question in the first 5 seconds.
  5. They fail to get the prospect's attention in the first 5 seconds.
  6. They fail to engage the prospect in the first 10 seconds.
  7. They fail to sound like someone I would choose to speak with.
  8. They ask for a meeting without a compelling reason to meet.
  9. They sound too professional.
  10. They offer a demo without qualifying.

And as for the emails, they tend to be even worse.  The only thing keeping most of them out of the junk folder is that they usually begin with my name and, "I know how busy you must be."  Geez!  Emails are great for inviting people to events, but only if it's the right audience and the right event.  Emails are great for sharing a quick piece of information or asking a quick question, but they don't replace prospecting calls!  You can't have a conversation over email!  By default, that makes all forms of prospecting emails bad.

Sure, if an inbound web-generated lead comes your way, it's OK to respond with an email.  After all, that's pretty much how they reached out to you and it's fair to respond that way.  Other than that, if you want to succeed, pick up the phone, but make sure you don't sound like any other horrible salesperson who might still be using the phone for kicks.


Image Copyright: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, cold calling, telemarketing, telesales, funny sales story, phone prospecting

Top 5 Reasons Why Sales Cold Calls Are So Awful

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 12, 2012 @ 11:11 AM

cold callToday I listened to voicemails from three salespeople who cold called me.

The good news is that three people actually made cold calls!  The bad news is that not much has changed.  Despite the tools, training, coaching, video, audio and reading that are available, all three calls were as bad as I've ever heard.

For example, the first caller was from a hardware/software catalog/online retailer with whom we've done a little business over the years.  She wanted me to call her back so that she could tell me about their current promotion.  Most of us will buy when we need something and won't buy something which we don't need just because it's discounted.  It wasn't a very effective message, nor was it delivered very well either.

The next call was from a guy with whom I would never choose to talk because he sounded so incredibly depressing.  He had one of those deep, gravely voices which were the trademarks of old-time radio personalities - with the upbeat part missing from his faded sound.  I imagined a very old, crusty, former radio salesperson making this call.  Am I judging?  Yes - that's what prospects do when they consider whether to delete, save, return the call or add the caller to their to-do lists.  He was trained at some point in his lifetime - very long ago - and it showed - he offered tomorrow morning or the following afternoon - very, very, very, old Dale Carnegie tactics.  He was calling to "remind me" that his company acquired the manufacturer of our existing phone system so I should call.  He did provide his name and phone number twice but other than that, his was a very ineffective message.

The third call was from some guy who sold a service and wanted me to call so that he could tell me in more detail what he offered.  Since I can't remember his name or his service, he didn't make much of an impression or give me much of a reason to call.  This was not a very effective message.

The messages are never effective.

The people never sound very good.

Their reasons for return calls are usually, more than anything else, reasons not to call back.

The most difficult part of making cold calls is actually making the cold call.  Yet these companies are getting their salespeople to make the calls, so why aren't they providing training and coaching which would leverage their salespeople's willingness to perform the call, with skills which would allow them to achieve success from their effort?

There is more than one answer, but I'll provide a my top five:

  1. The company is in a time warp where they still believe it's all about the numbers.  Just make forty cold calls and the rest will take care of itself.  That might have been true in the 1980's, but it doesn't work like that anymore.  On average, it takes eight attempts to reach a decision-maker and when salespeople get one on the phone, they have a very short window of opportunity to be effective or they've wasted their time.
  2. The company is in a reality distortion where they believe that if their salespeople can simply follow a script, the rest will take care of itself.  That was never true and couldn't be true today.  As soon as business prospects hear a telesalesperson reading a script, they already have heard more than they care to hear.
  3. The company is suffering from the Smucker's Syndrome.  They created the scripts and selected the salespeople themselves, so "with a name like Smucker's, it's got to be good!"
  4. The company has unrealistic expectations.  Their salespeople get lucky just often enough to convince sales leadership that the results will improve any day now - they're almost there. 
  5. They are financially conservative.  They'll waste lots of cash hiring these incompetent salespeople, but won't spend any money to bring in professional help.
As a reminder, I am hosting two Webinars this week:
Solving the CRM Problem - Tuesday, November 13, 10 AM ET. Register.
Solving the Sales Performance Issue - Wednesday, November 14, 10:30 ET.  Register.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales management, sales leadership, cold calling, telesales

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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