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Why Casual is Killing Sales

by Cindy Littlefield on Wed, Mar 10, 2010


I recently read an article by Kelly Robertson called The Dangers of Sales Casual. Now I've heard of dress casual, but not sales casual - so I was intrigued. 

Kelly shares his reactions to some recent cold calls he received:

The callers used a casual tone. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it reduces the overall professionalism of the call. When I asked one caller how he was (in response to the same question he had just asked me) he replied, "Well, ya know, I'm selling (product name), it's a challenge out there." The immediate thought that raced through my mind was "Gee, that's a surprise with an approach like yours." He also used slang during our conversation which is okay if you're talking to friends or coworkers, but not a new prospect. You have exactly one opportunity to make a powerful first impression and using slang greatly reduces your ability to achieve this.

Is your team using sales casual?  How can you be sure?  The only way to find out is to listen to them.  Schedule a call coaching session at least once a week.  You may be surprised at what you can learn about your Rep's selling style from regular coaching.  Not only will you learn about their personal style but you can also determine if the messaging they are using is resonating with your potential buyers.  Are they on the "we" train or are they talking to your buyers about the challenges "they" face?

Here is another great point from Kelly:

The callers seemed to ‘wing it' and were unfocused. In their attempts to sound friendly and casual the sales people seemed to lack focus. It took all my patience not to demand, "What are you selling?" Recognize that business people are extremely busy. Get to the point. Know what you want to accomplish and concentrate on achieving that objective"

Are your Reps wasting your prospect's time or are they creating a conversation that will spark interest and develop into a next step?  Maybe it's not totally their fault - you have the responsibility of making them better sales people.  Regular coaching will help you determine if your Reps needs additional tools and resources.

A call flow document, for example, is a great tool that can address everything from opening statements and qualifying questions to objection handling all in one nice neat package.  Your team probably doesn't need a strict or canned script, but they may need a roadmap on how to move the prospect through the process using questions and conversation.

I agree with Kelly and I'm worried that a casual sales approach (combined with a casual sales process) neither leaves a good impression nor moves the sales process forward.

So here are my two cents:

  • You have to coach your team to be professional.
  • When they are lucky enough to get the right person on the phone, don't let them waste the opportunity.
  • Make sure they know exactly what to say.
  • Make sure they know exactly what their objective is.
  • Teach them how to execute!

Casual Friday has become passé and we can only hope the same thing will happen to casual selling.  Do you agree?

(Photo credit: slworking)

Topics: inside sales management, best practices

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