As I talk to sales people, I’m hearing this frustration being expressed more and more, “I feel like I’m being a pest…”

Usually, it’s the result of people being required to complete a series of cadences–email, phone, text, whatever. They are measured by the touches, probably because research says we have to reach out at least 14 times. Often, these comments are about the very first prospecting outreach.

I, also, hear this on qualified deals–particularly near the end of the quarter as sales people are pressured to book orders.

It’s easy to see how they feel that way. Likewise, it’s easy to see how customers feel that way about sales people’s outreach attempts.

As I dive into these with sales people, several things come up:

  • They don’t know if they are contacting the right people.
  • They don’t feel as though they are “connecting” with the customers on issues most important to them.
  • They may have had initial contact, but they don’t know how to progress their outreaches in ways that are meaningful/relevant to customers.
  • Our expectations on a project may not be aligned with what the customer is trying to do, which drives conflicting behaviors. Stated differently, we are interested in getting an order, the customer is interested in solving a problem.

I think the concerns these sales people express are important. We are not equipping them for meaningful conversations with customers. Too often, our prospecting cadences are driven by presenting our products, company, and capabilities. Yet the customer doesn’t care about those, so we have a disconnect with the customer.

Yet, at the same time, the business acumen, the ability of our sales people to have, even rudimentary discussions about the customer and their business is very limited. We have a disconnect, because we don’t have an ability to have conversations that are relevant to our customers.

And that’s part of the frustration sales people express, they know what they should be doing, they know the conversations they should be having, they just aren’t equipped to have those conversations.

Likewise, later in the customer buying process, sales people know that pressuring the customer for an order, so we hit our quarterly numbers, won’t produce the results. But they don’t know how to help the customer navigate and manage their buying process, they don’t know how to increase the customer sense of urgency and commitment to make a change.

We are not equipping our people to have the right conversations with our customers!

We are never pests when we engage our customers in conversations that are meaningful and important to them. We are never pests when we focus on using their time well, helping them learn and make sense of what they face. We are never pests when we help customers have high confidence in their decisions.