11 things sales profs should stop doing immediately

I’ve trained 10.000 salespeople all over the world during the past 17 years. I identified common mistakes that sales profs should stop making immediately. Here are the things that are important and “quick wins”:


1. Stop having bad subject lines in your emails

If you send (cold) e-mails, think twice about the subject line.

People get lots of emails in their mailboxes every day. Your mail should stand out of the rest. My advice: think twice about the subject line. It should be creative, catch attention and trigger the desire to open the mail.
“Pain is great”. Use as little words as possible to make people realise that something is hurting them.

"This is why you lose money every day"

has a better chance of being opened than

"Our machines speed up your production process".

2. Stop writing too long introductory emails

No matter how complex your product is, the introduction email should never be too long. Use as little text as possible. Make sure you trigger the customer's needs at the highest level and suggest a phone call or visit to discuss that.

“Many HR officers are unable to easily identify the talents in their organization. They lose people they want to keep. "

is better than

“Our software evaluates hundreds of parameters to determine who is the best choice for an internal vacancy. Talents are ranked based on these parameters. "

3. Stop being discouraged because you don't get responses

Realize that sales start when the customer says "no". If they do not respond to your e-mail, it may be because they have not seen it, are too busy to read it, or simply deleted it because they have no interest in it.
No response to an email? Don't be afraid to make a phone call. After all, it is no longer a "cold call" if you have first introduced yourself in an e-mail.

4. Stop putting the wrong words in their mouths

It is better not to use negative words. I have seen people who started a telephone conversation with “Hello, my name is Donna, am I disturbing you?” Of course you are disturbing! The chance that they were waiting for your call is very small. Avoid using negative words or statements. Reformulate it positively, for example "Is this a good time to talk?" If that is not the case, it makes no sense to have that conversation at that moment. Then ask what time you can call back.
If you already had various negative responses with the same prospect, such as

"No sorry, I'm too busy now"

then consider responding as follows:

“OK, I understand that, then I will keep it very short. I would like to make an appointment with you. "

We bet that your prospect will ask questions about this. And then the conversation has started...

5. Stop arguing with the gatekeeper (1)

The gatekeeper is a personal assistant or secretary. An important part of her job is to hold off if people want to talk to her boss without being asked.
Approach her with respect and do not react angrily when she does her job (well). Give her a compliment, such as: “Let me start complimenting you on how wonderfully you shield your boss! It looks like I need your help here. I am convinced that your boss is interested in what I want to discuss and I really have to explain that personally. How can you help me with that? ”And then ... silence is gold.

6. Stop arguing with the gatekeeper (2)

You have encountered a gatekeeper that does not want to let you through, despite repeated attempts. There is no other way to get in touch with the right person. So you have nothing to lose. Then try the following.

Wait two weeks and call again. Say Hey Sandra, I see a note on my desk here that I have to call Mr. Bos. Can you put me through? "

If you are connected, chances are that Mr. Bos will ask you “You have a note? I don't know anything about it! ” and then you say with a big smile:

“That's right, I wrote it myself this morning. I didn't want to forget that I had to call you today. It is about ….".

I agree: it is risky and requires guts. Make sure that you sound enthusiastically and friendly, and laugh. As a last straw it could work.

7. Stop ignoring interested LinkedIn viewers

If someone, who could be a potential customer, visits your LinkedIn profile, you don't want to be among the 90% of sales people who don't take any action!

Send a message and thank them for visiting your profile. Show your appreciation and curiosity by sending a personal message, something like:

“Hi Frank, I saw that you checked my LinkedIn profile. Out of curiosity I also checked your profile. Good to see what work you do for XYZ. Maybe there are opportunities to do things together, I have some ideas about that. If you give me your e-mail address and telephone number, I will contact you to discuss my ideas briefly. I promise it will be worth it.""

8. Stop accepting coffee at the wrong place, the wrong time

It is better not to accept any coffee offered to you in the lobby by the receptionist.
If your conversation partner comes to pick you up, you don't want to go up the stairs to the third floor, jiggling like an acrobat with a briefcase, jacket and cup of coffee with saucer and cookie. That is not the best first impression. It is better to walk to the coffee machine with your client when he comes to pick you up. That is also the right time for a general chat and to start working on the relationship.

9. Stop stumbling yourself into the conversation

When the time comes to start the business part of the conversation, you want to be in charge of the conversation right away. A good opening sentence, with which you immediately set the stage, such as the purpose, structure and agenda of the conversation, is essential. The opening should also clearly give an advantage for the customer. An example of such an opening sentence is:

“Many companies struggle with the fact that their expensive e-learning solutions are not being used sufficiently. We have developed some solutions that can re-animate the use of e-learning and in the next 45 minutes I would like to investigate with you if that would be possible in your company as well. May I start by asking you a few questions about your learning and development goals? "

10. Stop losing control from the start on

The biggest pitfall for salespeople is that they talk too much and listen poorly or too little. We all have two ears and one mouth and we should use them in that proportion: 67% / 33%.
Let the customer speak before you dig into the details of your product and lose control of the conversation.
First ask questions about their business. After all, that is what they are most interested in and what they prefer to talk about.
Then talk about the problems they experience so that you understand better how you can help them.
Then ask what criteria they have for suppliers and products / services.
Only after that it is time to talk about your business and solutions.

11. Stop defending yourself immediately

If the customer raises an objection, there is a natural reflex to defend yourself immediately. That of course does not help to strengthen the relationship with the customer. It is better to use a powerful technique to refute objections. One of these techniques from the Train 'n Gain sales program is the positive reformulation of the objection. Ensure that the reformulated objection is accepted by the customer and is therefore the starting point for further explanation. For example, if the customer says:

"We have tried these types of solutions before, but they do not work for us",

is a good positive reformulation

"So what you mean is that you have specific requirements and that we have to look at which solutions do work for you, is that correct?"

Now try to reformulate the following objections positively yourself:

""Everyone knows that your products are considerably more expensive than those of your competitor.""

""I currently have no people or resources available to try out new solutions such as these.""

Send me your solution to these objections, I would love to hear them!

Paul Smulders