An Open Letter to Sales People

Dear Professional Sales Person,

The best business advice I ever received came from my father.  I was in high school and we were having a conversation about careers.  He said, “All of life is sales.  You’re always selling yourself.”  While I am not a sales person by the classic definition, I think I have spent my career heeding his advice.  With that in mind, I’d like to offer some advice, especially to those of you whose vocation is in sales.

1.  Technology has made “connecting” easier.  Accepting your LinkedIn connection does not mean I am your gateway into my company.  Asking me to connect you to the “decision maker” in my company is the lamest request you can make.  

2.  If your company chooses to buy a trade show attendee list or some other contact list, verify your mail merge program works.  Sending an email addressed with the wrong name doesn’t inspire confidence in you or your organization.

3.  Sending me a silly link to your calendar so I can schedule an appointment to talk with you at your convenience is insulting.  I’m the potential customer; my convenience is what matters.  Whatever you paid for that stupid program is too much.

4.  With all the information available on line, it is pretty easy to discover basic facts about someone you are cold calling or emailing.  If you can’t spend 30 seconds to find out where a prospect is located before you call, don’t call.  

5.   Promising dramatic cost savings or tremendous revenue growth makes me think either you don’t understand my business or you think I am an idiot.  Do yourself a favor and do a little research before sending an obnoxious email saying you can save me 25% on (insert product or service here).  Use your sales training.  Find pain points.  Provide information.  Every business wants lower costs and higher revenue.  There’s nothing unique about offering those.

I generally pick up my phone, return phone calls, and respond to emails because I want to learn.  Before you sell me, teach me.  That’s how you’ll have success. 

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