The Three Worst Pieces of Sales Advice I’ve Ever Heard

three worst pieces of sales advice you'll ever hear about sales prospecting

I recently found some sales training advice from a “world class sales trainer.” Honestly, I don’t even know where to start other than to say, please in the name of all that is holy, never teach these things during your sales training.

Only Focus On The GREAT Prospects

According to this sales trainer, “The best salespeople know that sales is a numbers game and a time game. The goal is to sort through prospects as quickly as possible to find a few great prospects. Instead of trying to persuade every prospect to do business with them, top salespeople get weak prospects to weed themselves out quickly, so they can spend the time on the best prospects.”

This is so short sighted. Yes, you do need to filter your sales prospects to understand which are truly potential sales and which may never do business with you.

BUT – don’t forget the concept of Social Agents — those folks that may never do business with you but might just end up becoming your most valuable “customer.”

Ignore The Social Media Effect

Our sales champion doubles down on the bad advice when he notes, “Understand that you don’t have to make everyone happy. The best salespeople know the 80/20 rule, where 80 percent of their commission comes from 20 percent of their clients. So they pay a lot of attention to their best clients. Smaller clients are transferred to someone else, or aren’t served as well. The small guy may be unhappy, but that’s how the best salespeople roll.”

I think that I threw up a little in my mouth as I read that… no on second thought, it’s definite. I definitely threw up in my mouth.

Let’s forget that this is advice is just plain bad manners and so self-centered and selfish, that it actually sickened me. Set that aside and just look at the three most obvious reasons to behave in today’s modern digital centric world: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

It’s just too easy for that “unhappy smaller client” to voice that unhappiness across the entire globe in less time than it takes our “world’s best salesman” to make his next cold call.

Not to mention, between Google Search and social media platforms, the old six degrees of separation has dwindled to like two degrees and that’s if you’re a pretty light social media user. So your next sales prospect, big or small, can easily find that unhappy smaller client you sent packing and you’ll have instantly lost all trust and credibility with this potential new client.

Adjust Your Seat Height

Seriously — that was one of the tips from world class salespeople. And honestly, I’m just including it here because I thought you could use a good laugh.

Our salesperson extraordinare had this support for why you adjust your seat height. “The world’s best salespeople take charge of sales meetings by adjusting their chair’s seat height. They begin meetings with their chair adjusted slightly below their customer’s, which subliminally signals that the customer is in a dominant position. As the meeting goes on, the salesperson will slowly elevate his or her chair in order to sit slightly higher than the prospect—putting them in a dominant position. The slow transition subliminally stages the prospect to be more receptive to suggestions from the salesperson. And if they can’t adjust the chair, they simply change their posture to achieve the same effect.”

OMG — I’m still trying to understand how someone could write that, publish that, and believe that, with a straight face. But damn, it was funny.

Three Outstanding Sales Prospecting Tips

Now, I am a guy that gives credit where credit is due. Within all of this ridiculousness were also a couple of sales prospecting advice gems that you definitely SHOULD follow religiously.

So here they are along with my own two cents added.

Always stay one step ahead of your client.

The best salespeople understand their best clients inside and out. They do their research, and dig down deep, on the client and the industry. Their goal is to find problems and opportunities for their clients before the client is even aware of it.

I couldn’t agree more with this advice. Your clients are like you — too busy, doing too much with too little — and they need every little bit of help you can provide them.

To paraphrase John Kennedy — think not what your client can do for you, but what you can do for your client.

Under promise and over deliver.

They know that if they set customer expectations low, when the product or service is delivered, the customer will be blown away with the experience. And that’s exactly how you want to be positioned for the next call with that client.

This was actually similar, but not nearly as impactful as the mantra at my first job as an Assistant Account Executive at Temerlin McClain. Liener Temerlin used to drill it into every account service person on staff and it was probably one of the wisest pieces of advice I’ve had over 25 years in the business world.

Promise a lot and deliver more.

You see the difference there? In the first case, you’re kind of tricking the sales prospect. But under Liener’s mantra, you’re just giving them more than they expect. It’s more honest. More authentic and in my less than humble opinion, more likely to result in your client becoming a social agent for you and your company/brand.

Let the customers sell themselves.

Pushy salespeople try to convince the customer to buy, buy, buy. But the best salespeople know that the most persuasive person is the customer herself. Their job is to ask the right questions and lead the customers to convince themselves they want the product.

Yep. Help the self-educating buyer complete their education. Engage them in a conversation… a conversation that you can turn into a customer.

Interested In Getting More Good Sales Prospecting Advice That Actually Works?

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About Tom Martin

Tom is 25+ year veteran of the sales & marketing industry with a penchant for stiff drinks, good debates and showing companies how to Sell Greatly, and turn conversations into customers. He is the founder of Converse Digital , author of The Invisible Sale and a contributing writer for Advertising Age. Tom guides clients through the digital sales & marketing maze and helps companies teach their sales force how to Painlessly Prospect their way to more sales. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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