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September 26, 2017

Bad Salesperson… or Bad Sales Manager?

bad sellingTrue story… earlier this week, I was the recipient of bad selling – a “cold call” email from a sales rep in our industry pitching his services.

It started with “We’ve never met, but…” Immediately, my defenses went up! I knew what was about to come – a sales pitch of some kind.

Then, at the end of the pitch, the email went on to say, “I have no idea if this is relevant to you.” Which, of course… it wasn’t.

This kind of amateurish sales effort – very common in the Market Research industry – drives me up the wall! AAARGH!!!

Is “We’ve never met, but…” somehow a pre-apology that makes it OK to send this kind of email? Hey sales rep… you have not even earned the right to take up space in my inbox. If I had subscribed to your e-newsletter or downloaded your latest White Paper, then fine… reach out to me. But to scrape my name out of a directory (or however you got it) and assume that I have any interest in your sales pitch is just poor salesmanship.

And then comes the “I have no idea if this is relevant to you.” Seriously?! You couldn’t take 15 seconds (literally) to go to my website, see what business we’re in and realize – instantly! – that we’re not a prospect for your services? How lazy are you?

Wait a sec! Maybe I’m directing my anger about this bad selling at the wrong person. Maybe I ought to be looking at your boss. Or your boss’s boss.

Maybe if your firm had an effective marketing program in place – one that built awareness for you in your target markets, then generated, qualified and nurtured sales leads before handing them off to you – maybe then you wouldn’t have to send out these lousy emails.

Maybe if your firm had an experienced sales manager – one who knew how to mentor, guide and train sales professionals – this kind of untargeted, hard-sell approach wouldn’t be necessary.

OK, so back to the original question… is the bad selling mentioned above the fault of the sales rep or the manager? I’m leaning toward management for two key reasons:

  • For not knowing any better; if you don’t have the experience to effectively hire, train and manage a sales person, then just admit it and get some help. Attend workshops, read sales management books or hire some consulting help. Winging it – which I see far too many managers in our industry doing – is a guaranteed recipe for failure.
  • For allowing this to happen; regardless of your sales management experience, did you take 20 seconds to look at this sales rep’s email before he sent it out? Did you see how bad it was? Did you even know he was doing it… or did you take the “just go sell something” approach and leave him to fend for himself? Again, another recipe for failure.

No one said selling in our industry would be easy… and it takes two elements to work effectively:

  1. First, you need a sharp, diligent, well-trained sales rep with the skills and discipline necessary to stay on top of all the details required to bring in new business.
  2. Secondly – and just as importantly – you need a sales manager who knows how to hire, train, mentor and be a resource to his/her sales reps – and do everything possible to set them up for success.

Try it any other way and it simply won’t work.

Good luck and good selling.

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