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8 bad sales and networking practices to avoid

Ralf a

If you are in sales you may want to check out the list below. As of late I have been the subject of some unbelievable antics out there. The economy appears to be in fairly good shape and that makes it even more peculiar why quite a few sales people turn towards totally useless sales activities.

Some of the practices are outright so bad that they are funny. What is not so funny is when you are at the receiving end of them. They totally waste your time. Not only does the sales person not sell anything now, he will probably never sell anything there. He will carry the stench of being a useless time sink for a long time, if it can be overcome at all.

Check out a few must-know resources on this topic as a bonus at the end of this post.

Please find below a few time and effort wasters that will not go over well with customers (they do not work with me at all):

  1. Abusing “networking” events for shameless sales pitches. Networking is networking. This is a platform for getting to know people better – not selling to them since they may be a captive audience and they cannot run away from you. Rule of thumb here is that if you do not have anything of value to share with folks, either do not go at all, or make a point of preparing a lot better.
  2. Circumventing the “gate keepers” and sneaking into the business office. Morale of this story is that you may end up getting into the business, but at what price? If anyone finds out what you did you will be toast and may risk never getting invited back. Even if after some time you got invited to bid again, chances are that most likely someone will hold grudge against you and your organization.
  3. Inundating prospects with voice and e-mails. Sometimes I get a “follow up” mail and phone call about the same item whoever small it could be. If that is your mode of operation then think again. Being pushy maybe necessary sometimes. That only works though if the buyer has established in form of showing action that he trusts the sales person.
  4. Sending meeting invitations via Outlook to prospects – with no prior connection. This is a fairly new one to me, but it appears to be prevalent around our area. It is an outright sneaky practice in which the subject line even suggests you know the folks and the topic. Slick. Except the recipient finds out that she does not know the people who sent the invitation. It’s another form and bait-and-hook spam. Nothing more. So what is the point?
  5. Sending mails that look legitimate reply mails (“Re.:…” in the subject line). This is a subset of no 4. Here a few prankster mass mai pieces of documentation that are used to make the recipient think that he/ she knows the sender. This can be a terrible time waster. What message does this send to the recipient of the mail? I do not get it.
  6. Calling a prospect’s colleagues to get an appointment. When in doubt then call someone else in the same department as the original stake holder and see what if anything can be done – wrong! Really annoying is when a sales person calls your colleagues in trying to find out background information that they use against you when they finally get you on the phone. Totally incorrect and useless practices. You may be excluded from any future bidding in the future at that company. How is a customer ever supposed to trust you after this interaction?
  7. Selling based on only one thing: price. It may be good for getting the initial attention. That is it though. Price is always important. Very rarely is it the only criterion a customer uses for making a decision (unless you are buying paper towels or TP). What else have you got to offer? How is your product or service going to make everyone better off? How does it integrate with the customer’s infrastructure? Are you still trying the “it’s free” and other try and buy routines? Oh, please!
  8. Asking a prospect “so what is it that you do here”. This is the hotline to listening to the proverbial crickets on the other side of the line. Good luck trying to open up a selling conversation after you totally wasted the customer’s time. There is so much good information around about the company and people working there. You are telling the customer that you do not even have 5 minutes to invest online before picking up the phone? Yikes!

Bottom line is that when you want to sell, you need to be real, genuine, helpful, and most of all you need to provide value. Do not start sales conversations if you know nothing about the customer and his needs. You do not need to push to sell anything. Customers want to buy, if you understand them and you provide choices and options.

Three folks that totally get what I am talking about are listed here below:

Jeffrey Gitomer

Seth Godin

Chuck Piola

Ralf

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