Note: Upon her indictment on federal money laundering charges and her arrest February 8, 2022, Inc. dismissed Heather Morgan as a contributing columnist. As is our practice, we do not unpublish editorial content, and rather have added this note for full transparency.
Because sales is at the heart of your business' revenue generation, any missteps in your sales department will cost you big bucks.
I've helped more than 200 business to business companies remove the bottlenecks in their sales processes to help them add millions of dollars to their sales revenue.
Oftentimes these companies' biggest sales mistakes are simple and easily avoided. Just changing a few phrases in an email or how that email is being sent can often double or triple (or more) the number of responses they are getting from potential customers.
Here are a few simple, but embarrassing, sales mistakes that can damage your company's reputation and revenue if you're not careful:
Mistake 1: Your Salespeople Aren't Talking To The Right People
Even if you have the best salespeople and sales processes at your company, it will be hard for them to close deals if they're not starting conversations with people who are actually qualified to buy your product or service.
Although your sales team might be able to "sell ice to an Eskimo," having them focus their time and resources on individuals who do not have a strong need or desire to buy your product, instead of those who actually do, is a waste of everyone's time.
That's why it's crucial that your sales team has a clear definition of who they should be targeting, ideally listing out the titles, industries, and company sizes of your ideal buyer persona. This is important so that they can build a highly targeted list of potential buyers to contact and start sales conversations with, instead of just blindingly spamming people with emails using the "spray and pray" approach.
Sending untargeted emails are not only ineffective and a waste of time, but they make your company look like an obnoxious spammer and might even get your IP blacklisted.
Mistake #2: There Are Errors In Your Sales Team's Emails
Spelling and grammar errors definitely won't make your salespeople's emails look good, but there are a dozen other little things that can also screw up their emails, making your company look bad. If sales is sending out "mail merges," or any sort of mass emails using automation technology, errors in your "merge tags" (the fields that enter first name, company name, etc) can easily deliver embarrassing mistakes to thousands of people.
Whenever sending out a mass email, they should always send at least one test email to themselves before sending it out to potential customers. This allows them check to make sure there aren't any errors that could embarrass your company and leave a bad first impression with potential customers.
It's also important to look carefully at the contact data of the people they intend to email, in case there are errors. Oftentimes there are extra and unnecessary words and letters in the legal company name, like "LLC" or "Incorporated." These will make their emails look strange and impersonal if they are not removed. Likewise, it's important to check to make sure first names and other proper nouns are correctly capitalized.
Mistake #3: Your Salespeople Have Forgot To Be Human
Technology is helping us to be faster and more efficient at almost everything, including sales. However, if your sales team forgets or neglects the human aspect of sales for the sake of speed and volume, they will actually sell less.
Whether they're using tools to help them send out hundreds or thousands of emails, or still just writing one-on-one messages to potential customers, their messages must sound like personal and thoughtful conversations. If their emails sound generic or robotic, no one will take the time to read on and actually respond to them.
A simple trick is to use first person and second person language like "you, I, we, and us," instead of generic third person statements that make their writing feel impersonal and distant.
Another related tip is to make sure they're always writing an email for one person, even if they're sending larger mass emails out. This means that they should actually pick someone from the list of people they plan to email, research them a bit, and write as if they're writing a one-on-one email to them. This will automatically make their writing look and feel more personalized and human.
In general, you need to make sure your sales team remembers that sales is still about having a human conversation. They'll be much more successful, happier, and sell more for your company if they leave the newsletter-style emails and other communications to the marketing department.