Are Your Salespeople Making Bad Sales Calls?

Here’s a terrifying thought for you: Are bad sales calls destroying your bottom line?

We’re not talking about sales calls that went bad; that can happen to anyone. We’re talking about bad sales calls, the ones that shouldn’t have been made in the first place or calls that should have been terminated before they got as bad as they got.

Some of those calls are probably being made by people who shouldn’t be in sales in first place. If this is your problem, you have our sympathy because a serious housecleaning may be in order. As a sales manager, that’s never a nice predicament to find yourself in.

Causes of bad calls

Here are the four major reasons for bad sales calls. We’re sure that there are others, but these are the ones we see most often.

1. Calling on bad prospects

These salespeople waste time and make bad calls to and on people who have no intention of buying. They seem to operate under the philosophy that a bad prospect is better than no prospect and it’s better to be trying to sell a bad prospect than get off their a*s (the lower part of the anatomy) and find a good prospect.

Compounding this problem is the fact that some salespeople have no idea of what a real prospect looks like. In their mind, if the person is breathing, he’s fair game for a pitch. They figure that if they pitch enough balls, one is likely to hit the target, whatever it may be.

As a sales manager, you need to help these salespeople recognize who is – and equally as important, who isn’t – a good prospect. Then you need to be sure that they take the time to qualify before they start selling, not when they’re trying to close the deal.

2. Talking too much

Some people get into sales because they like people. They like meeting people and they like talking to people. In fact, they like talking period. These are the reps who wouldn’t listen at all if they didn’t think it was their turn to talk next. And once they get talking, it’s hard to get them to stop. It’s as though they don’t even pause to inhale; they just keep on going and going like the Energizer Bunny.

These overly social salespeople are really nice people as a rule. It’s just that they seem to think that they have two mouths and one ear instead of the other way around. They will talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime, about anything, and the anything rarely includes getting the sale.

If you’ve got one or more of these salespeople on your team, we’ve got some bad news for you. They rarely change. Their ability to gab is built in. It’s inherent. You’re stuck with them or at least until they move along or you move them along, usually for non-performance.

3. Not listening

A close cousin to the overly social salespeople are the ones that don’t listen. It’s as though they didn’t have any ears at all. It doesn’t seem to matter what the prospect tells them, these salespeople carry on trying to sell whatever it is they sell without much regard to what the prospect wants.

For whatever reason, you’ll find a lot of these people making telephone solicitations. We still try to be polite when these people call and interrupt our meal, our tranquillity, or whatever, so when we say, “Thank you, but I’m not interested,” we expect them to hear what we said and terminate the call, equally as politely. There is a big difference between being persistent and being a pest and after the third, “I’m not interested,” we have been known to resort to asking, “Which part of I’m not interested didn’t you understand?” before terminating the call.

Companies who employ this type of salesperson and use these sales techniques stand a strong chance of alienating and annoying their prospects. Here’s a gem of wisdom for these companies — annoyed prospects don’t buy from you, not ever. In fact, many will go out of their way to buy elsewhere.

4. Turning off the prospect

Some salespeople just don’t get it. They don’t grasp the concept that people buy from people they know, people they like, and people they trust. Consequently, they make no effort to build rapport with the prospect before trying to extricate money from the prospect’s wallet. These are the sales reps who have commission breath and the prospect can smell it a mile away. Everything these salespeople do smacks of trying to make a sale. They seem to think that selling involves verbally arm-wrestling with the prospect until the other person cries “uncle” and gives in and buys.

Like the salespeople who won’t listen, these people can perform but at what cost to you and your company’s reputation?

If you’ve got one of these people on your team, take heart; they can often be moulded into a professional with the proper care and feeding. Your best bet, however, is to avoid hiring them in the first place.

What can you do?

Get out of your office from time to time and make calls with your salespeople or sit with them when they are making telephone calls. Simply observe and resist the temptation to play a major part in the call. If it’s a bad call, let it go. Talk with your salesperson after the call is over and use the event as a learning experience.

Help your people learn and grow because every sale these salespeople don’t make because of their bad calls impacts directly on your bottom line.

The bottom line is — you need to protect your bottom line.

Authored by Brian Jeffrey, co-founder of SalesForce Training, and originally published in the Targets newsletter.

SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional services firm and training firm based in Toronto, with training centers in Boston and Chicago, helping sales leaders achieve truly lasting behavior change amongst their sales teams.

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