I have worked in multi-directional sales for nearly 15 years, and am astonished that there is still such a lack of professionalism from so many sales people. I seem to spend so much of my time deleting direct messages on LinkedIn and Twitter that are little more than spam.

‘Do you want more leads…’

‘I believe I have what you’re looking for…’

‘Would you be interested in our (fill in the blank – software development, blockchain solution, analytics tool, etc, etc) services…’

‘Let me know if I can help you with anything…’

This is not a professional approach to sales!

I shared some thoughts on this in the past (see my brief video below), but let me now share some feedback on those example approaches above.

The first one ‘Do you want more leads…’ clearly demonstrates you have a limited understanding of sales. I get it quite a lot on LinkedIn, where my profile is open, and this message tells me that either you think I’m not very good at my job, or that you aren’t very good at yours. Am I wrong in believing that sales people should be able to generate their own leads? If you understand your market and the dynamics of it, you should be able to identify where opportunity lies in that market and then pursue it. Relying on someone else to generate your leads for you is only relevant if you have a limited pipeline, but a heavy workload.

‘I have what you want…’ or words to that effect – how do you know? What have you done to get to know me, my business, my budget, my aspirations/road-map, or anything else about me? Have you read my profile and thought, ‘he looks a likely prospect!’? The answer is, without having a meaningful conversation with me you don’t know. You’re just the stereotypical market trader shouting about what they’ve got. If you believe you have a professional solution for my business try qualifying and validating that belief before telling me all about yourself or your product.

‘Would you be interested in…’ – simple answer: probably not. You should know the answer to that question before asking it! Take the time to understand the dynamics of my business and then explain to me why your offering is relevant and will help me to move forward. But only do that if it really is! A prospect will remember the honest sales person that admitted their product is not right for them, and be more willing to re-engage with them in the future.

‘Let me know if I can help…’ – I don’t know, can you? If we haven’t spent time getting to know each other, how can I possibly have any insight in to your skills, abilities, network, knowledge, relevance, or timeliness?

Someone very wise once said that knowledge is power, sadly it is a power that is often abused, but even more disappointingly there are too many ‘professionals’ who ignore the pursuit of knowledge and instead believe that motivation and hard work are enough to get them through. The more you know about your prospect, the easier it is to demonstrate the relevance of your product or service. If you haven’t taken the time to understand the specific prospect (not just people like them), the likelihood of success with your sales pitch is pretty low. If you really understand them, and what you have is suitable, it should almost sell itself.

Forget ‘7 calls to make a sale’ – if you are only ever talking about your product multiply that to 70. Maybe, just maybe, if you take the time to get to know someone you can bring that down to 2 or 3…