Author: Neil Shorney
The Sales Accelerator

How not to sell (the recruitment consultant)

Yesterday morning (at time of writing), I had a call from a recruitment consultant. I get a lot of these, and unless it’s one of the small number I like to work with, the calls don’t last very long. I have to be very impressed with something about a cold call to stay on the phone for a conversation. Most calls I get go along the following lines:

recruitment consultant: “Hello, my name’s Jane, I work for ABC company. Do you recruit salespeople?”
me: “Yes”
r.c.: “I’d like to set up a meeting to discuss your needs”
me: “I don’t have any needs at the moment”
r.c.: “I really think it would be valuable to visit you”
me: “I don’t have any needs at the moment”
r.c.: “Can I send you my contact details?”
me: “Of course”
(call over)

A few minutes later I’ll receive an email which goes straight in my deleted items. The problem with this sort of call is that they’ve given me no benefit in speaking to them. I do not see any value at all in spending 1+ hours with this person.

Alternatively the call may go like this:

r.c.: “Hello, my name’s Jane, I work for ABC company. Do you recruit salespeople?”
me: “Yes, but I already have a consultant with whom I’m very happy with”
r.c.: “Can we set up a meeting so I can explain what we do?”
me: “How are you different from everyone else?”
r.c.: “Well we phone interview them, face-to-face interview them, check their Cvs…blah…blah…blah”
me: “No, I’m happy with my current consultant thanks”
r.c.: “Can I send you my contact details?”
me: “Of course”
(call over)

A few minutes later I’ll receive an email which goes straight in my deleted items. The problem here is they’ve not differentiated themselves and again, I see no value in spending the time in a meeting.

And remember, there’s very little to differentiate sales from recruitment – recruitment consultants sell people, salespeople sell a product or service. The sales process should be the same.

Yesterday’s call, however, was different. Yesterday my faith in the world’s sales skills was restored. Yesterday I received a cold call and wanted to stay on the phone. Not because I need a recruitment consultant at the moment, but because the caller grabbed my attention with her good opening to the call and made me want to listen. I’d even have had a meeting if she’d asked. 15 seconds later, my heart sank and I remembered why I spend my time improving people’s selling ability. Yesterday, a recruitment consultant completely wasted an opportunity for build a long-term relationship resulting in future business. So what happened?

r.c.: “Hello, is this the sales manager?”
me: “Yes”
r.c.: “Hello! My name’s Rebecca, I work for ABC company. Can you spare me a few minutes?”
me: (nice and polite and friendly, how could I say “no”?)
r.c.: “Great! The reason for my call is that I’ve just joined the company and I’m trying to establish some contacts who may need our services in the future. I’d like to get to know you so that next time you’re recruiting, we’ll both know whether we can potentially work well together”
me: (wow, she’s really good!) “OK, how can I help you?”
r.c.: “Do you do the recruitment yourself, or do you also have an HR department involved?”
me: (good question – I offered a brief explanation)
r.c.: “Great, thanks so much for your time, I’ll send you my contact details and please get in touch if you need anything. Bye”

WHAT?! What happened? Is that all you need to ask me to kick off this productive business relationship?! What happened to the “what do you do?” How about the “what sort of people do you recruit?” And the “which skills should they have?”

I was really disappointed, this recruiter made a fabulous opening with an unusual honesty about having just joined the company that really made me really trust her. We could have had a half-hour call about my recruitment strategy which would definitely have made me give her a try next time, but in the end it was a complete disappointment.

So please, fellow salespeople, learn from Rebecca’s success and mistake. Improve your opening – many salespeople struggle with this, and Rebecca’s was really great. And then, once you have someone’s attention, don’t waste the opportunity, because opportunities only come once and then they’re gone for ever.

If someone’s happy to stay on the phone with you, make it worth their while, and grasp the opportunity.

What is a high-impact communication?

There’s a lot of talk these days about high-impact communications, but seemingly little understanding of what this means. I asked some sales professionals recently what they considered a high-impact communication to be, and received a range of answers, from “not sure” through to “something that’s lively and engaging”.

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Sales and the environment… and why we’ve gone carbon-positive

Sales has never really been good for the environment, has it? For many organisations, reducing emissions is completely at odds with the need to sell products. Think, for example, mobile phone manufacturers. From the moment you get your new phone, you’re under pressure to upgrade to the latest model. This doesn’t help our planet, but is a necessary step for organisations to make more money. Of course, there are many products which are sold, which actively help the planet. But even then, there are the drives and flights which go into making the sale, and if you fly to Basel for a pre-lunch meeting then back to the office in the afternoon, there’s an environmental impact.

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The challenges of virtual sales meetings

I’ve just finished delivering a micro-training course on how to run engaging virtual sales meetings. It’s a bit of a hot topic at the moment, because many salespeople are feeling like fish out of water when they can’t use the tried and trusted techniques of walking into someone’s office, complimenting that person on the sales chart on the wall, the family photo on their desk, or the prize stuffed cod hanging above their desk, then blitzing the sales presentation through charm alone. Yes, once upon a time, sales trainers taught that these were great sales techniques to break the ice and build rapport.

Except they never worked. Even face to face.

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What salespeople need to know about LinkedIn®

Today’s rant

As a salesperson committed to helping others sell more, there are few things that pain me more in my professional life, than seeing salespeople drag the profession down. You know the sort of problem: lack of sales skills, lack of product knowledge, telling lies in order to win the deal. All these things bring the sales profession into disrepute.

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