I read a LinkedIn post recently that focused on the many complaints about cold calling and sales spam being talked about online. What struck me most was the author’s complaint that people publicly post the “negative” examples of sales spam they receive. She only wants us to share “positive” sales messages that work. And, yes, I’m rolling my eyes as I type those words.
In my observation, I believe we have more than a few sellers in sales today whose skin is a tad too thin. They don’t want to hear criticism even if it would benefit them to listen and learn.
I would love to share more examples of positive sales messaging, but I cannot remember the last time I received one. I’ve asked my networks to share examples they’ve received. Crickets. And why don’t we see more positive examples of great sales messaging? They largely don’t exist!
Go ahead. Ask 10 decision makers yourself when they can remember the last time they received a sales message that made them say… sure, I’ll free up time on my calendar to talk to that person.
I AM one of those people who posts about sales spam and implores sellers and their managers to do better.
Listen, I don’t shame people but I feel absolutely justified in sharing examples of sales messages that, as a collective whole, make our profession look bad. They certainly don’t achieve positive sales results.
CSO Insights reported that of the two main challenges sales leaders confirm gives them heartburn, the most pressing is the lack of qualified leads in the pipeline. Properly qualifying leads is the subject for another day. The point of this post is to reinforce that you cannot expect to increase your percentage of leads if prospects won’t talk to you.
This is why sales message and approach is all the more critical!
You have no hope of engaging buyers in sales conversations if they simply ignore you. Sales spam is an epidemic and as much the responsibility of individual sales contributors, as it is sales managers.
First, sales managers are typically more focused on QUANTITY of activity than the QUALITY of the activity. You need both.
Second, reps are mostly focused on hitting the activity NUMBER assigned them. They sacrifice QUALITY too.
Here is a real-world example to illustrate why buyers are freezing you out.
Four different sales reps at two different companies contacted me via phone calls and email last week. I had 2 voicemails each from 2 reps at one company, plus their 2 emails each. The other company had 2 reps contact me and each of those reps sent 2 emails each.
Are you keeping up with the math here?
- 4 voicemails and 4 emails from Company A.
- 4 emails from Company B.
That’s 4 voicemails and 8 emails over a 3-day time period. From only two companies!
Twelve missed opportunities to demonstrate credibility and value to me – the prospect. Perhaps the worst part of this example is that these reps wasted their effort on someone who will never buy what they sell, which a few minutes of research would have told them.
Not a single one of those messages were compelling enough for me to care, although one email was bad enough that I sent feedback to the rep who was snarky in their reply that they were doing just fine with their approach. When their commission check bottoms out, and it will, maybe they will change their tune and listen.
With all this activity taking place, sales leaders seem confused as to why their sales reps aren’t getting anywhere. They don’t seem to understand that it is the sales message NOT the activity itself that is the problem.
Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.
The math gets even worse when hundreds of other salespeople target the same prospects with similar sales spam about their products. And I’m only talking about the overload of initial sales outreach. Many sellers have a cadence of sales activity cued up with the same pointless messaging like – “did you get my last message?” – going out as many as 4, 5, 6, 7 times after the initial attempt at contacting someone. Is it any wonder that decision makers avoid salespeople until they absolutely cannot avoid it any longer?
And what is this business of having multiple reps from your company contact the same prospects with the same spam message within hours of each other? I simply do not understand the thinking behind this approach. Multiple salespeople hounding the same prospect more often will not win them over. Ever.
Isn’t it time for the insanity to stop?
Many of us DO provide examples of how to craft better sales messages. We are also the same people providing examples of how to improve other aspects of the overall selling process – in blog posts, on webinars, in interviews, in workshops, in books, on speaking stages, in consulting and training gigs.
Unfortunately, so much of the wisdom about how to improve sales results simply falls on deaf ears.
Either because it is easier to stay stuck in what’s not working than change OR
Reps feel they just have to do what their manager tells them to do even though they know better OR
Sales managers are unwilling to accept that times have changed and what used to work now doesn’t OR
People don’t want to do the work it will take to learn new habits that get better results, which gets back to point #1… it is easier to stay stuck and complain.
If you are in a sales role today, working to be the best version of yourself in that role requires constantly improving your skills and adapting to an ever changing business climate.
I started this post by talking about a salesperson, who isn’t the only one, that doesn’t feel negative criticism about people’s sales performance is fair. And, while I agree that how criticism is delivered makes a difference, I say that maybe it is time to toughen up, accept the reality that what you are doing isn’t working and let the tough love sink in.
To the individual sales contributors, I’m empathetic to the fact that there are things beyond your control when you work for someone else. I get that… and…
Ultimately, YOU are responsible for your sales success. If your activity isn’t generating enough sales meetings on your calendar, your message and approach is likely the culprit. Even if someone else is writing the message to send, but you know it isn’t working, it is up to you to be bold and change how you present yourself regardless how many prospecting touches you are expected to make.
If you do less calls but book more sales conversations with qualified buyers, you are in a good position to show your manager that quality plus quantity wins every time.
People are complaining about sales spam for a reason. It is a problem!
No salesperson is owed a pat on the back and a trophy just for showing up at work every day. Learn to accept the tough love and be open to learning from it. Your sales success depends on it!