Being bad at prospecting and selling sometimes seems at least as difficult as being good at it. It actually takes a lot of work to be a sales agent and yet be bad at sales. Think about it. You have to be bad at so many things so consistently: time management, prospecting, product knowledge, business etiquette, customer service, follow-up, relationship building, organization. That’s a lot of bad habits you’ve got to form.
Hey, some agents just have a knack for being bad at sales. They just make it look so easy. If you are looking to join their ranks, use these quick tips to get on the fast track to nowhere.
Leave your business cards at home. If you do use business cards, be sure they are dog-eared and dirty. But really, why do you even need them? You might as well leave your cards in your office, home or car. If anyone is really interested in contacting you, let them take the initiative. They can always Google you.
Don’t send thank-you notes. No one does that anymore, so why be old-fashioned? Plus, buying stationery is a pain and writing notes with a pen is a drag. If you really must thank somebody, just send ‘em an email and be done with it.
Talk to your clients only when you want something. Why else would you talk to them? Do not keeps tabs on your clients as they experience changes in job, business, marital status, health, income level, family, and lifestyle. You can be sure they will confide in another agent who will relieve you of their business. Let someone else be the hero.
Avoid calling prospects. Why call people that don’t want to be called to talk about stuff they don’t want to buy? They’ll just insult you, right? If you have to do it, put it off for another day when at all possible. So what if some agents are successful at cold calling? Chalk it up to luck; there’s certainly nothing systematic about it. It’s not like they have some magical script that gets them on the prospect’s good side.
Don’t develop a plan. As we all know, life’s more fun when you fly by the seat of your pants. Taking the time to make a to-do list or to follow a set routine gets boring. Writing business plans? Marketing plans? What a waste of time! There are things that are a lot more fun that you can be doing. Enjoy the moment!
Get in the habit of not returning phone calls. All these callers can drive you nuts. And it’s not like having a client service system is going to double your revenue, right? If it’s all that important, they’ll call back. What’s great about this technique is eventually people will stop calling and the problem will pretty much resolve itself.
Don’t ask for referrals. Referrals may well be one of the best ways to get more clients, but isn’t it scary to put yourself on the line like that? It’ll seem like you’re begging. And you don’t want to bother your clients. If they like you just trust that they’ll refer others without your involvement.
Avoid professional development. Aren’t you done with school, already? Besides, there’s always someone who knows more than you that you can call if you need to. Leave the self-help CDs and classic business books to the top producers. The same goes for getting a good mentor or coach. You already know what to do, right?
Don’t follow-up on sales opportunities . If prospects, clients, or referral sources were interested in working with you, they would get in touch with you. No reason to express interest in working with them or getting to know them better. And whatever you do, don’t look to build rapport or solve their problems.
Never give referrals to well-respected business people you know. They might get the wrong idea and refer your business right back. Referring others business is one of the best ways to build relationships, gain credibility, and create ongoing referral streams. Who has that kind of time?
Don’t perfect your presentation. Bring plenty of brochures and paperwork to overwhelm your audience. The more marketing collateral that describes your company’s history, mission, vision, core values, recognition, reputation, clients, testimonials and financial status, the better. It’s always a nice touch to deliver a lengthy PowerPoint presentation describing every aspect of your company, as well as its products and services. (Remember to look at the slides rather than your audience!) A thick three-ring binder works well too. Don’t worry about being charismatic or developing your public speaking skills either. People like you the way you are. Especially your competition.
Don’t ask for the business. It’s almost always obvious why you’re there anyway, so why state the obvious? Don’t find out what the client’s needs or reactions to your presentation are. It’s much better to leave the sales meeting not knowing what the prospect thinks, wants, or expects as next steps. That is, if there are next steps. Tomorrow is another day.
Sell hard. Everyone is a prospect — they just don’t know it yet. Introduce yourself as a sales agent to everyone you come in contact with, particularly in social situations. Let them know what you are selling and how much they need you. Tell them how you can lower your fees and guarantee your work. In fact, practice your selling scripts on your family and friends first. They always appreciate it.
Certainly, you can think of more ways to be bad in sales, but you get the gist. I guarantee that if you follow these tips, you’ll be a complete failure in no time.
For more from Michael Goldberg, see: