5 Things Sales Reps Say That Spook Their Prospects

We live in a world where buyers lead the sales process and can easily see through a sales rep’s—for lack of better words—BS. Buyers have unlimited access to information and have every right to ignore or delete your email or call, especially if it is poorly executed, generic or impersonal. As a result, salespeople have to get creative in order to stand out among the masses of boring sales jargon. But sometimes reps go too far with their ingenuity and can come off as awkward, creepy or just plain inappropriate. Even though Halloween is coming up, there is no need to spook your prospects in an attempt to get their attention. Below are five failed sales interactions experienced by folks here at Seismic, and how to ensure you never spook your own prospects.

  1. “Could you transfer me back to So-and-So?”
    If you’ve never spoken with a prospect and don’t have their direct line, don’t try to dupe the receptionist or gatekeeper to thinking that you’ve just been speaking with So-and-So. This happened at Seismic, where we don’t have extensions and therefore being “transferred back” isn’t possible. Instead of reaching the right person, this salesperson got caught in a lie and lost any possibility of being taken seriously or doing business with his prospect at Seismic.
  1. Starting your first email to someone with “Re:”
    This is another, less creative way to mislead a prospect into thinking that he or she has previously spoken with you. Some may argue that “Re:” can be interpreted as “Regarding” rather than “Reply” but it’s also a lazy way to trick a prospect into thinking your email is more pertinent than it actually is. Do the dirty work and come up with a relevant, engaging subject line.
  2. “I’m calling So-and-So back…”
    Again, if you’ve never spoken with So-and-So, this is an unfair way to get through the door. Most gatekeepers are accustomed to this type of sales dialogue, and will follow up with “is (s)he expecting your call?” If you can’t answer that honestly (and let’s be honest, (s)he probably isn’t expecting your call), it’s time to rethink your initial sales greeting.
  1. Pretending to know everything about the prospect’s industry/role
    You’re a sales rep. It’s your job to know about your own product and how it can help specific people at specific companies. That does not mean you need to be an expert in your prospect’s industry or job responsibilities, so don’t pretend like you do. Instead, once you get your foot in the door with a personalized and genuine call or email, ask questions. Be curious and make it clear that you care. This will help you formulate a better idea of your prospect and their needs, without having to fake it.
  2. Alluding to a nonexistent relationship or interaction
    This mistake is the worst and most common in my opinion. There are a few different scenarios in which this occurs: one is post-trade show or event where reps receive a huge list of fresh leads to reach out to. Thinking that this person must’ve interacted with their company in some way, the rep sends out a “Great to meet you at X event!” email. The problem is, many companies trade leads or purchase lists, which means that this person may not have seen your company’s booth or employees or even gone to the event. Another scenario involves a sales rep suggesting that a mutual connection referred him or her to the prospect. This may work in larger companies where individuals don’t work near or communicate often with their colleagues, but when someone is able to put you on hold and ask if the referral is legitimate, you’d better hope that it is. Both of these scenarios allude to a nonexistent occurrence or relationship, and are unethical ways to get your foot in the door.

We’re no strangers to creative or personalized sales calls or emails here at Seismic. Sometimes our own sales reps may get a little too personal, but never does it cross the line into deception. Keeping your emails authentic, truthful and personalized is important when trying to foster an organic and meaningful relationship with your prospect. After all, deceiving them in your first interaction is a rocky foundation to build on. If you’re able to engage your prospect with a relevant and interesting call or email while also delivering value, you should have no reason to have to spook them.


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