When You’re a Sales Hammer Every Person Looks Like A Nail

How do you feel when a complete stranger who knows nothing about you, your life, or your organization approaches you and immediately tries to sell you a solution?

How often has this happened to you on LinkedIn?  You get a connection request from someone, you accept it, and without preamble or question, he or she immediately tries to sell you whatever it is he or she sells?  Or an unsolicited InMail with a blind sales pitch?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve sure seen an increase of this behavior in the past couple of months!  Here are a few examples from the past two weeks exactly as they were received via InMail or after I accepted the sender’s connection request:

  • “Hank, I have some specific ideas on how we can work together through these difficult times. Let’s talk soon.”  – T.S., director of client relations at a lead sourcing company.
  • “I will double your conversion rate of web visitors. Click my calendar to schedule call.   
  • “Hi Hank – in less than a second you can have up to 500 consumer attributes from DATABASE NAME with full ID resolution and verification. Book an appointment with me at XXXXXX.”  – D.L. account exec at analytics company.
  • “Hi. Please let me know if you have tasks related to Dynamics 365, Azure, CRM, AX, Power Platform, PowerBI, Devops, Sharepoint, .Net, C#. Call me now at XXXXXXX. Will relocate anywhere in US.” – I.M., MVP
  • “Hello. Your name came up in a search. Can we have a call on Thursday to discuss you hiring Ruby engineers to help you hit your 2020 goals?”  S., managed services
  • “I optimize your website for SEO. Click to schedule call.” – J.U., web designs

I’m sure all these LinkedIn members are fine folks who share several things in common:

  • We’ve never had a conversation.   Yet they make assumptions about what I do.  Curious…
  • Each took the time to reach out to me. OK, that one is commendable…
  • None bothered to engage me to learn if I had a problem their solution would address. Odd…
  • All were acting like a hammer and they all thought I was the nail. Ouch!

Alexander Maslow, father of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, speaks to this last point:

The WORST WAY to interest and engage a potential customer is to treat them like a nail and try to sell them something.

The BEST WAY is to do a little research to determine IF someone is indeed a prospect, and then to engage them in a conversation to see where it leads. Just as a reminder, a conversation is a two-way dialog and doesn’t involve one person fire-hosing the other person with stuff he or he wants to sell.

Four Ways Sales Hammers Make Mistakes

Mistake #1: Not Learning About a Prospect. None of the sales hammers bothered to learn about me before contacting me. None suggested contact for the purpose of learning about me and my organization. They were too busy trying to sell me something, focused on what they wanted to sell. How can you learn anything about a potential customer if you’re the one doing all the talking?

Mistake #2: Trying to Sell Instead of Letting Me Buy. None of the sales hammers recognized that people HATE being sold to! It was as if they were broadcasting a problem-less solution in the hopes that if they reached enough people, they could find someone who coincidentally had the problem their solution could fix. I’m a curious guy, but none made me curious enough to want to learn more.  They just made me feel like a nail.   

Mistake #3: Doubling Down on Hammer Selling. Several sales hammers made the mistake of sending me a follow-up hammer-selling message:   

  • “Hank, perhaps you missed my first message asking to speak with you about how we can work together during these difficult times. Here’s the link to book time on my calendar.” T.S., director of client relations at a lead sourcing company.
  • “I missed speaking to you last week about hiring our Ruby engineers. Can we talk this week?” S.S., managed services.

If that had given me a reason why I might want to speak with them, I’d have been open to it.  They didn’t. So I disconnected them from my LinkedIn network.  Sales hammers are unwelcome!

Mistake #4. Failure to Engage in Relationship Building. This is perhaps the most significant mistake of all that each sales hammer made. Tom Hopkins once taught me that people don’t buy from people they don’t like or don’t trust.  That means getting to know someone well enough, and that takes time.  Sales hammers don’t invest the time. They simply assume that if they start talking to enough people someone will buy what they sell. 

Look, even the wait staff of the restaurant down the street takes a little time to build a relationship before asking for the order. Their customers travel to them, find a seat, look at menus… all pretty good signs they wanted to buy a meal there. And they sure make people feel welcome to buy. 

Bottom Line

Sales hammers quickly make themselves into pests.  Nobody buys from a pest.  Instead, they look to rid themselves of pests.

This post is based on the best practices taught in our award-winning sales development program, B2B Sales Essentials™ . If you are looking for better alternatives to being a sales hammer (either for you or your sales team), let’s talk and get to know each other.  I promise I’ll take the time to learn about you and what you’re facing, and if B2B Sales Essentials™  can help, I won’t try to sell you anything.  But I will let you buy! 

I love working with people and organizations who want to improve their effectiveness! Here are several outstanding resources that can help you and your organization to go to the next level:

I work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. I also help job seekers, higher ed, and employers connect people to better jobs faster. My two books on job search (Amazon.com) help people navigate the ever-changing landscape of conducting a successful job search. To find out more, please visit us at www.boyermanagement.com, email us at info@boyermanagement.com, or call us at 215-942-0982.

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