Articles written about “How to Be Kick-Ass At Sales” are a dime a dozen. I know- I read a few when I started my insurance career.
But you know what would have helped me more? Articles that instead had titles like “How Not to Suck At Sales.”
What’s the difference you may ask? The first title implies success. The second title implies failure. I think it’s possible to have small, moderate and big successes. But failure, that’s pretty absolute.
So in the same spirit, here’s my tips on how to be the worst salesperson ever. Some of these mistakes I’ve made. Others I’ve experienced from other salespeople (and remember I’m in insurance, so supposedly I should know every shady trick in the book- cue Jaws theme music please).
(Side note- for those of you who say you’re “not” in sales, think about this- we’re all in sales. The product may be you. Maybe you’re selling yourself to a new employer. Maybe you’re jockeying for a position on a board of directors. Maybe you’re running for political office. See where I’m going with that?)
Here’s my favs:
Upon meeting new people, it’s totally unnecessary to take one minute to engage in friendly chitchat. Instead launch immediately into your canned sales presentation.
I’ve attended many networking events and witnessed this first hand. It’s painful to watch. In fact, I’ve often wondered when the hook was going to come out of stage right to mercifully drag the person away. NO ONE wants to be seen as a dollar sign first. We all want to be appreciated as a person. So, when meeting someone new in a networking setting, ask a question of the person instead. Then shut up and listen.
Latch onto a person’s email and spam the hell out of them about your products and/or services.
Just because you get someone’s business card does not mean it’s an open invitation to flood her inbox with crap. I distinctly remember an insurance company rep randomly dropped by the office to introduce herself and what her company offered. We exchanged cards and pleasantries. The next thing I received from her was not an email that said, “Carrie, it was a pleasure meeting you. Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your busy day. Would you be interested in receiving email updates about our products?”
Instead, I got a new sales message. EVERY DAY. Finally I sent a not so nice email telling her to remove me. It all could have been avoided if she had only asked that one simple question.
Talk in nothing but your industry jargon, because it shows what a smarty-pants you are.
Nope, it actually shows what a dumb-ass you’re being. The best salespeople are teachers first. People come to you because you possess the knowledge they require. The trick is to take that knowledge and translate it into terms they understand. Not what you understand. It’s all about them. Never about you. The added benefit to this approach is that you’ll more likely be seen as an ally.
When at all possible, make 10 calls and/or send 20 emails just because you want to “follow up.”
Who out there invented the 18 step sales process? I’m sure there’s some school of thought that says this is the “way to go”, but I can’t possibly see why.
Imagine that conversation- “So Mr. Salesperson, all you have to do is make contact, then relentlessly pursue them until you’ve bugged the hell out of them, they hate your guts AND get a restraining order against you? Got it?”
How is THAT effective?
My process is simple- proposals are sent, I make one follow-up call or email and that’s it. I’m sure I’m not nearly as successful as others who go after potential clients like a trained seal does a fish. But you know what? I hate pushy salespeople. I don’t want to be one of THOSE people. So I try really hard not to be. Trust me folks, if someone really wants to do business with you, he’ll make the effort to contact you. Promise.
Use every ounce of technology at your disposal for your presentation without any regard for how the prospect wishes to communicate and receive information.
After completing applications for a new client, he told me about a different agent that had come to see him. The agent had all the newest techno gadgetry, including an iPad (they were still relatively new at this time). He had the presentation all nice and pretty on the iPad, yet my customer and his partner couldn’t quite get the right vantage point to see the screen clearly. So they asked him if he could print out the necessary documents. He looked at them like they were totally crazy and squeaked, “Print?”
That totally threw him and he was never able to recover.
And by all means, when you use said technology , it’s not at all necessary to understand the basics of how it works.
Continuing from the previous example, my client wanted to see several alternatives. For many of us, it’s as simple as picking a different choice from the dropdown menu. This agent could not figure out how to make the changes happen, so he couldn’t show the requested alternatives. I’m not saying you have to be an IT professional, but if you’re going to use anything other than a piece of paper for your presentation, PLEASE, PLEASE just know how to make it work. I see so many companies latch onto the newest gadget, give it to #1 salesperson and send him off. Here’s a hint- during the presentation is not when you want to be fumbling around. Because then you just look like an idiot.
And my personal favorite- After you’ve made the sale, do not return phone calls, emails, or any form of communication to the customer. In fact, change all your contact information and move to Bali.
How many of you have experienced that kind of treatment? It sucks, doesn’t it? Personally, I think being there after the sale is most important. Especially in insurance. 9 times out of 10, the next big contact you’ll have with your customer involves a claim. And that’s definitely after the sale. When you’re in the middle of a crisis, it’s a pretty great feeling to know you’re being acknowledged, isn’t it?