I just couldn’t resist writing about spooky sales reps—it is Halloween, after all! You know, when all the spooky, creepy things are supposed to come out. It’s that time of year when ghosts, goblins, vampires, mummies, (oh and princesses), knock on the door trick-or-treating.
I love being interrupted by spooky trick-or-treaters. I don’t, however, enjoy being interrupted by spooky salespeople. In fact, maybe Halloween is a good time to talk about how not to be a spooky, creepy salesperson. You know what I mean, by that right? There are certain things that salespeople do that are just, well…creepy.
Let me give you some examples:
1. Are you sending stuff that has nothing to do with your prospect?
Alice and I have a very small consulting company. Just two consultants. I get daily calls from sales reps at companies that want to “partner with me.” What they mean is they want me to sell their product to my clients. They are typically looking for consultants selling into enterprise sales teams who can make dozens of referrals every month. I don’t typically sell into the enterprise environment. I work with small to midsized companies.
I’d say most of the salespeople that call me are terrifyingly unprepared for the call. Here are the questions that run through my head when I answer these unexpected calls:
Why are you calling me? Who am I? What does my company do? How big are we? Who are our clients? Do your homework! All of this information is on my LinkedIn profile, so it’s not hard to find. If all of those things align with what you are doing, please call me. Don’t just call because my name was on a list of sales consultants.
2. Are you stalking your prospects?
Don’t get me wrong, using social media to understand your prospects and build relationships is a good thing. There is a fine line, however, between cyber-stalking and connecting. I think it is great if you follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn. See what I am writing about and what matters to me. Please, Google me. See what I’m involved in and what my company is doing. It is even a good thing to respond to an article or two that I have written.
What isn’t OK, is to stalk me. Don’t like everything I have ever written. Don’t follow me around the internet on Facebook and Instagram unless we have built a relationship that warrants that. Don’t ask about my kids if I have never mentioned them. I have a business persona and a personal persona. Be respectful of my privacy.
3. Are you sending spammy messages on LinkedIn?
When I get a message on LinkedIn, I expect it to be a personal message from someone who wants to connect with me and build a relationship. I can’t stand when someone asks to connect, then instantly sends me a sales email about something I couldn’t possibly be interested in. Or worse, wastes an InMail when they obviously didn’t check to see if my company is a fit. The answer is an unequivocal “no.” It is especially a “no” if it isn’t about me and how I will benefit. Read my content. Get to know what is important to me. Interact with me in a thoughtful way around my content. Then, when I know who you are, you might let me know how you think I might benefit from your product.
4. Are you sending auto-responses to everyone who follows or connects with you?
When someone follows you, it is a sign that they might be interested in your content. It is nice to send a “thanks for connecting” note. What isn’t OK is to send a generic note that says, “Thanks for following, thought you might enjoy some content,” and then force me to put in my email address to download your content, and then send me half a dozen emails trying to get me to sign up for something or buy something.
For crying out loud, I just followed you. I especially hate it when someone I know well sends me a generic response like that. That’s spooky.
5. Are you assuming that anyone who reads your content is a potential client?
I have to say it is also a little spooky if I download a white paper and someone calls me while I am reading it to see if I am interested in buying. Reading an article does not necessarily make me a prospect. And seriously, you can’t be so desperate that you can’t give me time to finish the article before you call. Honestly, you made me fill out all kinds of information to download the article. You know if I am a prospect, a competitor or a consultant. Don’t waste your time and mine calling me if I am not a prospect.
6. Did you just send an email confirming a demo that your prospect didn’t sign up for?
The other morning, we had a discussion in our office about who signed Alice up for a demo. “It wasn’t me,” everyone announced. Hmmm. Interesting. They just sent us an email pretending that we had signed up for a demo that we hadn’t signed up for. The worst part is that it came from a company whose emails we read and whose product we use. That’s just not cool. Worse, would be getting on the phone with the poor person who has to do the demo with a prospect who doesn’t know why they are on the phone. Not fun. Don’t do that to your prospect or your demo team.
7. Do you think the person you are emailing or calling owes you a response?
“I’m resending this because I wasn’t sure if you got my last message.”
Let’s face it, I got it, and I ignored it because it wasn’t relevant. I don’t owe you a response. Sending me six more of those is no more likely to get me to respond. I especially hate it when there isn’t a previous message. They just skip right to the second message. I can only assume they get the same response rate whether they send the first message or not, so they don’t bother with the first email. Sorry, that feels more spooky than professional. Try sending something that matters to me. I promise, if it gets my attention, I will respond.
Being spooky is only cool on Halloween. For the rest of the year use your judgment. Remember that most of the people you are selling to are crazy busy. They have hundreds of emails and phones that ring all day. Not to mention prospects, employees, projects, and any number of other urgent matters. Be respectful of their time. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. I know it’s your job to get my attention, but please try to understand how many other things are demanding my attention, don’t be a spooky salesperson.