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3 Things Inside Sales People Must Stop Doing Today – Contest

by on April 2, 2012  

As a seller, there are things that you should not do and then there are major irritants that turn someone far away from you. In sales we know how to push the envelope a bit – how to be bold and how to find ways to stand out.

But within all this creativity happening to get your buyer’s attention, there are still some very basic tenets of business building that you must pay attention to.

I get bombarded with requests to look at new products and services. What I am about to write about didn’t happen some time ago, it all happened last week. We are adamant that if you are in inside sales (or outbound sales) you must STOP these practices immediately. If your sales leader thinks they are OK or that they work, please send them our way.

1. Stop sending company pitches through LinkedIn.   If I’m in need of link building services or ink refills, I’ll contact you, not the other way around. This is a 1999 sales tactic and it needs to stop.

Instead, work to build relationships in LinkedIn. If you do not know how, take a class or read some of the great e-books and blog posts on how to make LinkedIn a prospecting tool WITHOUT a desperate attack on just anyone you may be connected to through a LinkedIn Group.  Start by having interesting conversations with others there – instead of blanket emails to people connected to you in a group.

2. Stop calling people without a quick scan of their website.  I received a cold call from someone who was talking to me as a potential prospect, not as a very strategic potential referrer.  Since I had attended a sponsored webinar, the sponsor company was following up to see if I had “any CRM needs” and might want to use their service. I asked this young man if he had seen my website, and he told me that he does not have time to do that. Instead he just calls from a list, and I imagine, “hopes for luck”.  Even though I could write a review for this product, or tell stories about it and grow huge added visibility for this company, their sales leader has inside reps just dial for dollars. Hope is not a strategy in 2012. Do better, people.

3. Stop having one-sided conversations. A vendor called me last week with an “end of Q1 deal” because he wants to make his numbers. Worse yet, his sales leader may have encouraged him to do that. What part of making your sales number has anything to do with my business needs?  To make things worse, he lied to me and said he’d been trying to reach me. Hmm. No messages, so I guess it was by osmosis?

To think that these tactics are still going on all over North America and beyond is what reminds me to mention that selling is a people business and we need to keep talking with sellers to help them learn how to be good citizens and good representatives of their business.  When you make calls like that you sound desperate, and desperate is not an attractive quality.  Lying is never appropriate – it’s just wrong.

If your inside sales team is doing any of these things, work on alternatives – none of these have an “upside” to them – they are time wasters for sellers and they are the worst public relations you can offer potential (make that formerly potential) prospects.

Come up with new, fresh ideas – add some inbound strategies, blog more, and develop Sales Influencers within your team.

In 2012, you need to be ready to work with a more sophisticated buyer – so let’s drop the old-school bad tactics, OK?  Post your comments and stories – I’d love to hear what others go through as a seller or as a potential buyer.  $50 Starbucks card for the best story posted here as a comment (as deemed by our staff, received by 4/10/12 at NOON Pacific time.)

Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012 and speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for tips and strategies in selling.

  • rachel_longley

    Hi Lori –

    Great points about adapting to a more sophisticated buyer.  Nothing turns me off more than when someone clearly hasn’t done their homework.  The sales pitch should attempt to anticipate my needs rather than forcing something upon me that doesn’t make sense. 

    One thing that I have found interesting is that since sales tactics have become so digital (marketing automation, emails, landing pages, etc.), people seem to respond to offline formats.  Even though direct mail might be considered a bit outdated, people respond to it because they just don’t receive letters any more.  A letter or package wont get stuck in someone’s spam folder and it is far less invasive than a phone call  (although, I would suggest following up over the phone).  If I think about my own week in the office, I receive hundreds of emails – but never a letter or a package.  My company has actually seen some good traction from sending out direct mail pieces, even though it seems a bit counter-intuitive.

    I’m curious to see what others are saying!  Thanks for the post.

    • Lori Richardson

      I totally agree with you about “snail mail” – it works so well right now since so few people use it. If I were to receive something by mail I’d see it for sure, but might not if it were email. 
      It is disappointing to hear so many sales reps who have NOT done their homework – because they are rushing through their day, week, and quarter to hit numbers, not have valuable interactions. Thanks for your comments. 

    • Mike Stevenson


      I recently read an article written by a supplier about a quick dinner he had with his vendor. It wasn’t brought up in the dinner, but he had been considering discontinuing business with the vendor’s organization because they weren’t being flexible in pricing despite competitive offers. Two days after the dinner he received a thank you note in the mail from the vendor thanking him for his time and touching on a few points from their dinner conversation.
      He resigned with the vendor.

      Snail mail is powerful.