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5 Deadly Sales Call Sins

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Written by Erica Stritch
Vice President, RAIN Group

People with kids tell me that sometimes you have to let them fail, even when you could have jumped in to save them, so they will learn. Painful to sit by and watch, but necessary for growth. After being on the receiving end of an awful sales call last week, now I know the feeling.

Poor kid (he could have been 60 for all I know, but he seemed like a kid), started sinking from the get-go. Since I couldn't dive in and save him, the future parent in me is dying to share the learning with someone. So here goes.

While I will protect the name of the innocent, I have summarized my favorite (if I can call them that) 5 deadly sins that pulled him down like a pair of concrete shoes in the Mystic River.

5 Deadly Sales Call Sins

  1. Deception: "I'd like to discuss partnership and advertising opportunities." I was first contacted by this individual via an email with the subject line "Advertising Inquiry." My reaction: "Someone interested in advertising on our site—let's see who they are trying to reach and if we are a good fit." I respond and schedule the sales call.

    Within the first few minutes of the call, I learn that advertising on our site is not what this person had in mind. Instead, he began talking about his business and how great exposure to their list and clients would be for RainToday.com.

    Sneaky, and not appreciated...

  2. Lack of Research: "RainToday.com...what is it that you do?" Not only did he pull a quick one on me and turn the tables to try and sell to me, he showed a complete lack of knowledge of our business.

    Nothing gnaws at me more than to be called by a sales rep and, when I ask them, "Have you visited our website?" to hear, "No."

    We are a website business - .com is in our name. If you haven't visited my site you have no reason to speak with me.

  3. Me Me Me: The first 10 minutes of the call consisted of him telling me all about their services – exactly what they do and how it all works, detail by boring detail. What does it have to do with me, and why do I care about how your underlying technology works?

    When he did (finally) ask me a question about us, he cut me off! He was just too excited to tell me, that based on my 2-word response, we were the perfect fit for him. Oh, please.

  4. Aimlessness: I let this go on for about 15 minutes. I still had no idea what he wanted from this call, or how his services would benefit me at all. Trying to figure it out, I asked him, "In the ideal world, if I could wave a magic wand and you could say, 'This is what I'd like you to do,'  what would that be?"

    In response he began talking about the profile of his other clients, and how his company has worked with them, but that services are customized to individual clients' needs.

    At this point, I had been told what a great fit we would be and how his services work, but I still had no idea what he wanted from me or what I would get out of this relationship. I didn't even know what needs of mine he would be fulfilling, so how can he come up with a custom solution for me?

  5. Inappropriate Next Steps: This call was headed nowhere fast, when all of a sudden for the first time in the conversation there was silence. Curiosity kept me on this far, but it was a good time for me to end the call.

    "Well, thank you for reaching out and introducing me to your service. At this time I don't think this is a path we are looking to head down," I said in my "being nice" voice.

    "Ok, I'll follow up with you next week then," he responded.

    Did he not hear me or understand what I said? What is there to follow up on?

Much of this is obvious and you may think exaggerated. Of course you'd never do this, right?

There are professionals and sales people of all sorts committing these sins every day. Maybe they aren't committing every sin in every call or to this extent, but it only takes one to kill an opportunity.

Even if you don't admit it to anyone else, I ask you to think back to a sales call that might not have gone the way you would have liked: did you commit any of these sins?

Topics: Sales Conversations Sales Prospecting