The Seven Deadly Sins…of Prospecting Calls
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The Seven Deadly Sins…of Prospecting Calls

Art Sobczak teaches people how to be successful at prospecting calls. Over the years, he’s heard a lot of lousy calls – some during training, and then more when he gets home at night and an unsuspecting telesales rep gets him on the phone and tries to pitch him something.

Art keeps track of those calls, and he has a list of the most common mistakes that salespeople make in the first ten seconds of their call. Here are the Seven Deadly Sins of Prospecting Calls that create hostility and invite rejection:

  1. Talking about you: yourself, your company and your products. Prospects don’t care about you. They don’t care how much effort your company spent to develop its new and improved whatever. They don’t care that you know somebody who used to work at their company, or that you’ll be in their area on Thursday, or that you’ve gotten their voice mail 20 times in a row. Prospects care about themselves. It’s only human.
  2. Diving into the pitch. This one happens because salespeople are afraid the prospect will hang up any second. They think, “Before that happens, I’d better get across as much information as I can.” But it’s counterproductive for two reasons. First, you know absolutely nothing about the prospect, so how can you hope to connect? Second, you’re giving prospects the perfect excuse to hang up. “Oh, we have that already. No, we don’t need that. We never expect to need that. Don’t know anyone who needs that. Have a nice day.”
  3. Offering a benefit statement that only benefits you. Many salespeople are taught to sell benefits. So they say something like: “Nine out of ten retailers lose more to employee theft than shoplifting. If I could show you a way to cut down those losses, would you be interested?” You’ve heard that pitch a million times. It sounds like it’s about the customer, but we all know better.
  4. Asking for a decision too soon. Or for that matter, even hinting at the fact that you’re going to ask them to buy or do business with you or give you an appointment. Nobody’s ready to make a decision at the beginning of the call. So if you ask for a decision – any decision – the answer is likely to be no.
  5. Pretending you’re the postal inspector. “I sent you a letter. Did you get it?” Yeah, they probably did. Nearly all the mail gets delivered. You’re really asking for their thoughts on what you sent. Again, that’s inviting rejection: “Yes, I got it. I wasn’t interested.” Or, “I don’t remember if I got it” – in other words, it wasn’t compelling. What you never hear is, “Yes, I got your letter. I was waiting for your call. So where do I sign?”
  6. Asking a question before you offer a reason the prospect should answer you. “Hi. Ben Jones here with ABC Office Supply. So tell me, what kind of supplies do you buy in your office?” People try this one because they think questions build engagement. They unquestionably do, when used at the right time. But in an opening, they feel like an interrogation. I know why you asked – YOU want to sell ME some office supplies. And you’ve given me absolutely no reason to share this information with you.
  7. Reading off a script. We’ve all experienced this one: “Good afternoon, Mr. Your Name Here. My name is Bob and we’re contacting people in your area to…” It’s slow torture by script. Scripts are essential for prospecting. But not if you read them like a third-grade book report. They’re a guide to your conversation, not the conversation itself.

All of these openings are deadly. They kill sales in 10 seconds or less. And they have one thing in common: They’re all about you and not about your customer.

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