How Many Salesepeople Does It Take To Screw In A Light Bulb?

by David Brock

I’ve given up, we deserve all the jokes people tell about us.  Stupid sales behaviors—the source of endless jokes, the reason people hate sales people, the reason we have such difficulty in meeting with customers.

The tricks and manipulation……

A client sent me a note about one.  A sales person calls, leaves a voicemail, but doesn’t leave his name.  Curious, my client calls back, the sales person is totally unprepared, did not recall the message (left 45 minutes earlier), didn’t ask my client about their business, but starts pitching a meeting.

My friend, Anthony Iannarino, has another similar one:  “Should I leave a message with just my name and number, not why I am calling?”  The subtext to this is—let me trick someone into returning my call.

My own experience, just yesterday.  I get a voicemail, I return the call, the sales person answers—sounds like I woke him up from his afternoon nap.  Doesn’t remember why he called, then wanders through an aimless conversation—after 45 seconds, I didn’t get it, I understood he wanted to sell me something, but didn’t know what, so I thanked him and hung up.

Or the one, “We met at this conference, I wanted to follow up with you….”  When I reply, “I registered for the conference, but ended up not attending, so how did we meet?”

Then there’s the variant of the conference one — “We met at this conference two years ago….”  Wow, I think, they must have had so many leads, they are just now getting to me……

I could go on, I’ll stop here, but ask you to share your own stories in comments on this blog.  But the real reason for writing is:  Do we ever stop to listen to what we are saying?  Do we ever stop to think?  If we called ourselves and used the same approach, what would our response be?

Is thinking about what we are doing so difficult?  Is there some reason we spend lots of time looking for the latest trick, that hook, the way to “get our foot in the door,” rather than focus on “Why would this person want to talk/meet with me?  What could I do that would be meaningful to this individual?”  Both take about the same amount of time, but we seem to opt to sleight of hand, rather than the value we can create.

The goal isn’t about the number of calls–managers setting these goals take note–the goal is, how many value based conversations do we have?

When are we going to realize that buying–and selling has shifted?  It’s not about the pitch, it’s not about broadcasting a meaningless message, it’s about establishing a meaningful dialogue or conversation.  When do we start realizing that we don’t build trust through deception and manipulation?

Why do we continue to choose circuitous, confusing approaches to a prospect or customer, instead of being direct?

Sales is difficult enough, it requires real talent.  It requires real thoughtfulness.  Stop wasting your time on tricks and manipulation.  Stop wasting your time looking for or reading, “The 7 tricky ways to get your customer to say yes,” or “The 11 ways you can get your customer to answer the phone,” or “Master the ambush call.”

Invest your time in thinking–why would the customer want to talk to me?  What could I do that would create value for the customer?  How do I communicate that to the customer?  How do I make sure it’s a good investment of the customer”s time.  Think about what you are doing, research, plan, prepare.  You’d be amazed at how well it works.

Did you hear the one about, “What do you say about 200 sales people at the bottom of the sea….”