I often say you learn something from everyone. Sometimes it’s what to do. Other times it is what not to do. Selling is a tough enough business that it’s always better to stay away from the wrong things to do. Here are some of the dumbest things I’ve heard (or done) in sales just so you can save yourself from making these same mistakes.
1. Tell them John referred me.
A long-time salesman told me he often told new salespeople about his method for getting his phone calls taken when he cold calls prospects. He simply says, “John referred me to you. I wanted to speak with you about (his product). Here’s my telephone number.” Then he leaves his number. There’s only one problem. There is no John.
He figures that a prospect will actually know a “John” and think he should return the call. This foolish salesman actually expects to get a return call. He just might. Now think about what the prospect thinks when he learns there is no John. Sales is based on building trust. Would you want to buy from someone who deceives you with something as simple as a voicemail? I wouldn’t.
He probably doesn’t realize that his time is better spent crafting a more compelling introduction so the prospect wants to hear more. Those prospects who do call back will want to learn more and might just trust what they hear.
2. 12 Ring Dave thinks that’s good for his business.
I worked with a guy named Dave who had an answering machine for his customers to call when he was out. He would diligently leave his business card with his customers and prospects. That sounds like a good idea. There was only one problem. He intentionally set his phone to pick up after the 12th ring. Do you think most people would wait for a phone to pick up after 12 rings? I don’t think many would. I was probably one of the few because that’s how I knew he set it to 12.
You should be making it easier, not harder for your customers to reach you when they need to. Yes, I realize that sales is not a 9 to 5 job. It would be nice if it were, but it’s not. You might get phone calls during dinner hour. You might get calls late or early in the day. Remember that you don’t have to pick up. Customers can leave a voicemail and you can return the call after dinner.
I have found most customers to be very respectful when you give them your cell number and tell them you work from home. They won’t take advantage of your good nature. Just remember there’s always voicemail, too.
3. Thinking a longer work week makes you more productive.
When I started in sales I worked seven days a week. I made sales calls for five and spent the other two writing reports, studying and planning my next week’s calendar. How long do you think that lasted? It actually lasted several months until one of the engineers I worked with was asking me how I planned my work week. I guess he could see the dark shadows under my eyes and see the burn out I was experiencing. He immediately told me to stop the crazy schedule.
He told me hard work was one thing. Wearing yourself out was another and not the same thing. He then explained that he worked five days a week and on Sunday evening got ready for the work week. We were on the road quite a bit and that Sunday night preparation allowed for a faster start on Monday. After the conversation, the Saturday/Sunday work days were no longer part of my schedule and I was far more productive and successful without them.
Your job in sales is to build trust and support your customers while maintaining your strength and peace of mind. You will be happier and your customers will be grateful when you avoid these dumb mistakes.