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The Worst Moves A Sales Rep Can Make (And What To Do Instead)

The Worst Moves A Sales Rep Can Make (And What To Do Instead)

n any kind of personal interaction, it’s a sign that the health of a relationship is in jeopardy. In a sales situation, it may be the moment you lose a client forever.

“What do you think you’re doing?” “You’ve got some nerve!” “You’re seriously overstepping here.”

There’s not a lot of grey area in what’s being communicated through these kinds of phrases. In any kind of personal interaction, it’s a sign that the health of a relationship is in jeopardy. In a sales situation, it may be the moment you lose a client forever.

Fortunately, it takes a lot for most customers to reach that kind of boiling point with a sales rep. Especially if a customer has been dealing with a rep for a long time, there might be some degree of latitude or room for (minor) errors. It’s different when reps are prospecting, though. And the propensity to offend can be a lot higher.

That’s because in prospecting new business, reps have so many doors to knock on, whether it’s the initial gatekeeper or the final decision maker in a buying team. Even with data, there are bound to be some unknowns about everything from contact preferences to purchase processes. Navigating the risk of alienating a potential customer by being too aggressive can be tricky, to say the least.

While there are a number of things sales reps can consider doing — using the data they can track through tools like Sales Cloud, for instance — there are a few that they definitely shouldn’t do, even if they believe it’s the kind of bold step that’s necessary to get a prospect’s attention.

The Move: Making a preemptive calendar appointment

All you need are a few minutes. Just one meeting. And you’ve tried all the other ways, from cold calls to voicemail messages, email and maybe even some outreach through social media. The prospect hasn’t responded. So you simply send an invite for a particular date and time, maybe with a note that they can suggest an alternative if the invite conflicts with anything in their schedule.

This may, in fact, get the prospect’s attention — but most likely the wrong kind of attention. If the prospect has someone else managing their calendar, for instance, they’re likely to simply delete the appointment and maybe even block the rep who sent it. If the prospect manages their own calendar, they may be indignant that the rep simply decided they have the right to start a buying process without their go-ahead.

What To Do Instead: Go back into Sales Cloud and look at similar customers in terms of company size, vertical market or other criteria. If nothing else, you might get a better sense of how long the buying cycle is going to be for that customer, which could make it with waiting for them to get back to you.

The Move: Pouncing on a recent LinkedIn connection

Let’s be clear here: Getting a notification from LinkedIn that says an invite was accepted is not a signal to immediately begin the relationship by asking them to open up their wallet.

Beyond the risk that your prospect might wish they’d ignored your connection request, pouncing right away might mean you’re working through the wrong channel — like LinkedIn mail versus their corporate email, which they might check more often.

What To Do Instead: This is an easy one. Browse their profile in more depth. Read any posts they’ve written. See what kind of content they’ve liked or shared themselves. Comment on what they share and provide value. Also, look on the right-hand side of the profile and you’ll see who else tends to be associated with that profile. This could offer clues to who else is on the extended buying team.

The Move: Cornering someone at a conference

There’s nothing wrong with a friendly wave or even stopping to make some small talk if you run into a prospect at an industry event. But launching into a full-on spiel about your latest offering — or making them feel guilty for not getting back to them about whatever you’d last called or emailed about — just threatens to create awkwardness in a situation where you should be building trust. Also, think of why they might be attending the event in the first place. If they were hoping to connect with their peers, take in a fantastic keynote speaker or learn from a workshop, you have established yourself as the barrier literally standing in their way.

What To Do Instead: Industry events are not all parties, but some standard rules of social gatherings still hold true. Show interest in the other person — in this case, maybe asking about what they’re most hoping to get out of attending. That could help guide your own choice of sessions or speakers. It can also give you a way to frame your next pitch, knowing what’s top of mind on their end.

The Move: Emailing one level up

It might start with a subtly irritated, “Should I be reaching to Jim (the prospect’s boss) instead?” Then, the rep might begin CCing Jim on their next message, maybe hoping he will bring up the lack of response from the prospect the next time the two get together. Finally, the rep might decide Jim is who they want anyway, so they go direct to to the top (or as high as the decision-making on this purchase leads, anyway).

Although there’s a one in a million chance Jim will show interest and even get the deal closed, we all know the more likely fallout. The prospect seethes at being “worked around” and ends all conversation with the rep. Not a great outcome.

What To Do Instead: Give the prospect reasons to talk to Jim instead with data that shows you understand their pain points. Help them be prepared for any of Jim’s questions or objections by going over what you’ve learned from other customer data that’s been put into Sales Cloud. Make them shine in front of Jim, rather than try to leave them in the shadows.

There’s one final bad move we haven’t mentioned here, and it ties back into all the others: failing to contribute data to the CRM in the first place. When everyone fuels the collective knowledge base, you have information that can be parlayed in any number of ways to address the biggest sales challenges. Best of all, if that’s the bad move you’re making, it’s the easiest and quickest one to correct.

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