Bad sales process

Caution: Bad Sales Process Ahead

I received a message on my Facebook page from long-time friend Lenny Casper in response to my Valentine’s Day post on “Loving Your Sales Process.” He wrote:

Picking up the phone, calling people you don't know, and asking them to give you money. What's not to love!

Tell it like it is, Lenny!

The thing I love about this comment is how it so clearly articulates everything that most people hate about a bad sales process — and by a bad sales process, I mean one that salespeople hate to carry out and prospects hate to receive.

So let’s take a look at each step in the process that Lenny just outlined for us — call it a post-mortem, if you will, on a despised, but often practiced sales process: The Cold Call.

Step 1. Pick up the phone. It’s likely these four little words trigger more dread and anxiety in salespeople than any other. In fact, the dread is so pervasive and palpable, that sales managers had to create a term for it: call reluctance. This step, picking up the phone, becomes even harder when followed by…

Step 2. Call people you don’t know. Ever hear the term stranger anxiety?” From a very early age, most of us are taught by our parents, teachers and loved ones, “don’t talk to strangers.” Strangers are scary. Strangers are bad. Strangers will hit you over the head, throw you into the back of their vans and beat you with hoses! Terrifying images for a child… So the child grows up, gets hired in a sales position, and is told: “Okay, your job is now to pick up the phone and call strangers all day.” Ahhhhhh!

But wait, there’s more…

Step 3. Ask them to give you money! Are you kidding me? First, I have to overcome call reluctance and pick up the phone. Second, I have to overcome stranger anxiety and call people I don’t know, and then — as if to add insult to injury — I have to ask them for money?

At what point in my career, exactly, did I become a panhandler?

Bad sales processI think some sales processes should come with a warning label that says “Caution: Bad Sales Process Ahead.” At least then the salesperson, and perhaps the prospect, would have adequate warning.

Some sales processes are like the “brute force attacks” launched by computer hackers against computer servers. They just pound away mercilessly, second by second, minute by minute, year after year until a weakness is found and they manage to get in:

Uninvited. Unwelcome. Despised.

But once a bad sales process has been identified by someone who actually wants to fix it, that can happen very quickly. I gave a simple example of that in a previous post here.

In future blog posts, we’ll discuss some of the characteristics and components of a truly effective sales process — one that doesn’t require you to add the title of “panhandler” to your resume.

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