Sales Models, Metrics, and Motions Blog

Thoughts on Rapport, Cold Calling & John Madden

by Matt Bertuzzi on Thu, Feb 04, 2010

The other day I was listening to an interview on selling blunders that Mike Schultz from RainToday, had with Dan Seidman, sales coach and author of Sales Autopsy.

Dan shared a truly horrific sales story, which I've transcribed:

Rick is a Field Rep for a printing services company. For 6 months, he's been tracking the President of a target firm to get a meeting. He finally gets the appointment and is let into his office. The office is so impressively decorated that Rick admits to being pretty intimidated.

Remembering that early on in his selling career, Rick was taught how to build rapport by looking around the room for the fishing picture or golf trophy. So Rick glances around the office, sees a picture on the gentleman's desk and says "Wow, a photo of you and John Madden with your arms around each other. That's a fantastic photo! How did you get a picture with John Madden, of course a NFL great."

The President of the company glares back at him and says "That's not John Madden, that's my wife."

 Wow. Thankfully in Inside Sales, we're spared from making that same atrocious (and fatal) slip-up.

But that doesn't mean that we in Inside Sales should not focus on building rapport the new-fashioned way. More often than not, with information that's publically available on the internet, we can learn 10x more about a prospect than we could from a quick glance around their office.

So why shouldn't rapport involve:

  • Doing some research
    Think 2-3 minutes on LinkedIn, Google, etc.

  • Being prepared
    Being ableto speak to shared connections and recent company news
  • Demonstrating that I'm a seller who won't waste your time
    I'm prepared to speak plainly. Maybe we're a fit, maybe not. Here's what I think I know about you and your company. Let's get to a go/no-go on qualification quickly and directly.

Nigel Edelshain shared an excellent example of the Inside Sales slip-up in his Sales 2.0 Vendor Cold Call that Sucked!. Here's an excerpt:

It kills me that this company actually has a pretty good tool that is VERY close to my social calling methodology and yet this sales person called me without any indication that they even looked at my LinkedIn profile. Their tool analyzes LinkedIn profiles! Killer. I'm actually shocked and I've seen plenty of sales mistakes.

This call may be the killer illustration of the fact that tools and technology are useless if people don't use them effectively -or don't use them at all! Here we have a (supposed) leader in the Sales 2.0 space letting their sales people call prospects without even using their own tools. If this sales person had used one ounce of the information available to them through their own tool this would have been a warm call. They turned any easy call into a stone cold call.

Nigel's point is spot on. In the comments on his post, Krista Moon makes the point that Sales people cannot be expected to both do the leg work of pre-call planning and hit the activity metrics defined by Senior Management.

Sales people are pressured to contact too many accounts, and they don't have the time to actually do it right, no matter what tools are available. The whole way "sales" is set up and the job sales people are expected to do is the same as it has always been, but the process has totally changed. Seems to be a disconnect there.

I would argue that meaningful conversations is the metric. Banging through a list with vanilla messaging, unaware of the business issues, interests and other unique buyer persona qualities of the recipient is a waste of resource (for the vast majority of sales organizations). The trick is finding the right balance between pre-call planning and activity that makes the process repeatable and scalable.

Would you agree?

(Photo credit: Ed Bierman)

Topics: cold calling, inside sales strategy

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