Before delivering a training lab to a new client, I interview a number of their customers and prospects as part of my preparation process.  The end goal of any training is for the sales team to leave with the skills to exert greater influence and impact within their market, and so I consider it essential that their facilitator understand the interests and perspective of the people to whom they sell.

I’ve been doing this for over a decade and have witnessed a trend that is on overdrive. And it’s not a good one.

Sales people are training their customers and prospective customers to tune out.  It’s not me saying this.  Your customers are telling me that you are doing this in multiple ways.  Here are the top five.

1. Presenting information about which I don’t give a damn.
I know that you’re enthusiastic about your product, your solution and your company.  But as soon as you share stuff that has no direct, and immediate, relevance to me… guess what? I tune out.  And then I’m at risk of missing what is important to me.  So ditch the 40-slide deck of everything we never wanted to know about your company since its inception. << Tweet This  Lead with my interests and connect relevant information that demonstrates your capabilities in context of my issues and aspirations.

2. Filling sales messages with generic benefits.
So you can “save me money,” “double my revenue,” “drive more traffic to my site.”  All things I want. So why don’t you hit my radar?  Because I don’t believe you.  Every other seller is peddling the exact same unimaginative promises and my skepticism is through the roof.  These kinds of phrases generate one action only: DELETE. Get specific in what you can do for me based on what you’ve read, researched or heard about me and my business.

3. Loading proposals with filler.
Here’s a desperate plea from purchasing specialists across industries, “Eliminate marketing fluff from your proposals and presentations for good!”  Marketing isn‘t selling.  Proposals aren’t marketing vehicles. They are important sales tools intended to help buyers make good decisions. << Tweet This  Statements like, “We have the most experienced team in the industry,” or “We offer unparalleled service” mean nothing. Especially when four competitors have the exact same claim front and centre in their proposal.   A proposal should articulate the specific attributes of your team that matter to my company’s priorities so that I know you are my right choice.

4. Checking in.
Sending messages that are “Checking in to see if it’s time to talk” or “Following up regarding your decision.” These are the kiss of death for sales people trying to connect with a prospect not ready to engage or with one who is mired in a drawn-out decision making process.  Remember your goal is to help the customer move the process forward, not throw yourself into the cavernous void of “no response.”  Follow-through messages should always include something of relevant value to stimulate action.   A market trend or statistic that encourages a next step, an industry insight that supports your recommendation, a thought-provoking video that addresses the interests of key stakeholders.  Stay on their radar, don’t fall under it.

5. Your painful response to the question, “What do you do?”
The reality is that most people don’t care what you do.  They only care about what you can do for them. << Tweet This The question is bait for many sellers to launch into a self-absorbed stream of verbal diarrhea about their company.  And who wants to listen to that? No-one.  Deliver a sixty second sound-bite that provides enough information to pique your contact’s curiosity.  And when he asks for more, use his organization as your example.  When someone asks me to elaborate on how I “shift the way sellers think to drive stronger business results” I’ll reply with, “It depends on each customer situation.  Let’s take your organization as an example. What’s the biggest challenge your sales team currently faces?”  And I’ll use his real world scenario to put his team at the heart of my answer.

You work hard to get the attention of your prospects and customers.  Be ruthless in how you communicate so that they tune in rather than fade out.

Good selling!

I’m curious to hear your perspective on this subject.  Please leave a comment below.