Type “why are salespeople annoying?” into Google, and you’ll get a ton of results. And the feedback is pretty spot-on.
Sales reps have a bad reputation nowadays. Trouble is, they’re in a dilemma: They need to engage new prospects, but the traditional methods they’ve used for so long are no longer effective.
So, instead of just sitting back and hoping that those old methods magically start to work once more, reps need to proactively cut out the practices that bother the modern buyer, and embrace new strategies.
Here are the biggest buyer pet peeves today, and how to avoid them.
1) Calling over and over and over again.
Up until this point, the primary method for sales reps to create new business was cold calling. But because just one call wouldn’t do the trick, reps would call non-stop until they got to somebody (anybody) who would talk to them. In fact, even after they heard “no,” they still kept calling.
Much like a sales rep, the most important thing a buyer has is their time. They want to ensure that they are investing it wisely and getting a return. If they are constantly distracted by a rep reaching out and interrupting them, they lose the thing they value most: their time.
Not only is this annoying for the buyer, it’s ineffective for the seller.
Cold calling has a success rate between 1 and 3%, according to John Jantsch. That means one out of every 100 people is answering your call and buying your product. And those aren’t great odds.
What to Do Instead
With tools like social media, networking events, and content in their back pocket, sales reps should ditch the cold call in favor of warm outreach. As HubSpot’s Mark Roberge said, “[it’s] about building trust, not being tenacious.”
Strive to build familiarity and the beginnings of a relationship with your prospects well before you reach out through the following avenues:
Social media networks
By simply following someone on Twitter or connecting with them on Facebook, your name will become familiar to them. From there, you can observe your prospects’ posting patterns, and spark up a conversation.
Prospects have questions, and your blog posts can help get them answers. By writing a post or two around your product or service, you can build credibility and attract new prospects.
Finally, by attending networking events your target buyer would be interested in, you can learn what prospects are looking for, what they don’t like, and how your product can help.
2) Totally generic outreach.
Sales is now largely scripted, unfortunately. If a prospect says X, reps say Y. The scripted sale goes all the way back to the 1930s, according to CBS.
Today’s buyers love personalization. They want to know that they’re being put first, and aren’t being treated the same way as everybody else. A generic outreach campaign makes it seem like the rep isn’t interested in actually earning their business — they just want any business.
This is a problem.
What to Do Instead
This quote from Matt Heinz sums up the problem perfectly: “If you’re reading from a script, you’re not listening. If you’re using a script, you’re not customizing the pitch to what your prospect cares about. If you’re using a script all day long, you’ve already made the assumption that every prospect is exactly alike.”
Ditch the script and invest in research. By doing research, reps can gain a wealth of information about their prospects, and develop pitches around their specific needs.
To learn about a prospect, look into the following areas:
- Company website
- Personal website
- Mutual connections
- Public financial records
3) Being treated like just another sale.
For every closed deal, reps get a commission. So why wouldn’t they want to sell anyone and everyone they can? The more calls they make, the better chance they have to make a sale and earn commission.
But for the buyer, there is nothing worse than being treated like just another sale. Prospects have their own unique problems, pain points, and goals. It’s important that they feel that they’re getting the full attention of the rep so that they can solve their issues. And the attention shouldn’t end once the contract is signed — if a rep goes dark on a client once they buy, the relationship is ruined.
What to Do Instead
The best sales reps today aren’t obsessed with closing deals — they’re obsessed with helping prospects. Because each buyer has unique challenges, reps shouldn’t treat them as interchangeable notches on a belt.
Instead of trying to force a product down someone’s throat, offer guidance and demonstrate genuine concern. Remember: Reps need to build trust before they can earn a commission. Geoffrey James said it best: “No one is going to buy from a person they don’t trust.”
Two easy ways to gain trust as a sales rep:
Rather than mass sending the worthless “just checking in” email, craft thoughtful messages that offer value. By offering your insights and your time, prospects can see a real return on their investment.
Being honest and up-front
If you’re up-front about price, what the product or service does, and who you are as a rep, building trust will be a cinch. Customers value honesty and the reps who refuse to be anything less will succeed.
Today’s buyers know what they like and what they don’t like. To remain relevant, reps must adjust to better serve today’s buyer rather than default to old-school tactics that grate on prospects’ nerves.