3 stupid sales shortcuts: spamming, lying, and begging

by Steli Efti
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All salespeople go through dry spells. They fall short of sales goals. They stress over missed opportunities and ineffective pipelines.

When they’re desperate enough, some salespeople look for shortcuts. They search for quick ways to hit their quota. They chase easy money. But short-term fixes rarely lead to long-term success.

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If you really want to build a career in sales, here are 3 shortcuts you should always avoid:

Shortcut #1: Spamming

Spamming is easier than ever before. You can send 50,000 emails in the time it takes you to read this sentence. All you need is a lead list and some marketing software.

The math usually looks something like this:

If I send 50,000 emails and 1% responds, that’s 500 prospects. If I close 5% of those prospects, I’ll have 25 new customers.

But it’s never that simple. Most lead lists are outdated and overused. They’re sold again and again to people just as desperate as you are. So when you spam 50,000 inboxes, you’re polluting an already polluted marketplace.

Customers don’t have the time (or patience) for low-precision, low-value messages. They get enough of that from everyone else. Your spam isn’t better than anyone else’s spam.

What’s the long-term impact?

You’re missing opportunities to create thoughtful, customized conversations. You’re not learning anything about your customers or your product. When you substitute quantity for quality, you’re limiting engagement with your brand. You’re making the conversation one-directional.

There’s also a chance you’ll get blocked from your email. So even if someone is swayed by your message, you’d have no way to connect with them. The benefits never outweigh the costs.

Shortcut #2: Lying

You don’t lie because you’re a bad person. You lie because you’re $2,000 short of your sales goal.

It’s bullshit, but true. You’re not out to destroy anyone—you just need to make your month. So you start selling to unqualified leads. You compromise and overpromise. You make it easy to purchase your product, even if it’s not a great fit.

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Here’s the problem:

When you sell to unqualified leads, there’s very little chance for them to succeed. Many times, they require a level of service you can’t provide. So you get flooded with odd demands and workaround requests. Or worse, they act like assholes because you lied to them.

What’s the long-term impact?

Your customers are going to churn. And they won’t churn quietly. They’ll demand refunds and ping your CEO. They’ll call, email, and tweet. They’ll post negative comments. They’ll badmouth your company to friends, associates, and vendors. They’ll murder your brand’s reputation.

Is all this worth hitting your sales goal? Absolutely not. Only sell to qualified leads. Don’t make compromises on your character just to hit a quota.

Shortcut #3: Begging

Want to look selfish and desperate? Try out these lines on your next call:

It’s been a tough month, but I’m hoping to turn things around. If you sign up today, that’d really help me out. I can offer our product for practically nothing. And if you’re unhappy in a few weeks, no problem. You can cancel at any time.

I can’t think of anything worse to say on a call. Seriously, don’t ever do this.

Nobody trusts a desperate salesperson. No one is reassured when you’ll say anything to close a deal. You’re only proving that you care more about yourself than your customers.

Massive discounts also devalue your brand. There’s a time and place to negotiate price—and discounts may be a part of your larger sales strategy—but giving things away isn’t a formula for success.

What’s the long-term impact?

When you build relationships based on favors and free products, you don’t have a business model. You have a charity. As soon as the discounts expire, your customers will find a company they can trust.

If you’re considering one of these shortcuts, forget about your quota

Forget about this month or this quarter. Think about the next decade. How will these shortcuts affect your pipeline? How will they influence your reputation?

A bad month is one more opportunity to learn from your mistakes. It’s a chance to reflect on why you missed your sales goal. Don’t stress about what’s already happened. Make the necessary changes and move on.

Build your career for the long-term, not the end of the month. Spammers, liars, and beggars will never have a future in sales.

 

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