Sales is a hard, hard profession.

Nobody wants to be sold, nobody wants your voicemail or your email. Nobody wants your LinkedIn InMail either, so you’ve got to work hard to get anywhere in any sale.

Mistakes are killers of your time, effectiveness, productivity and credibility.

So, what should we look out for?

If you can avoid making these six prospecting sins, you’ll increase your chances of booking a meeting with your target client, and ultimately, closing a deal.


Asking for way too much too soon

Hello prospect, can I have 15 minutes of your time? Get out of town, now.

We’ve all been there. You get an email or a call and almost straight away there is mention of when I have a free slot in my calendar, or if next Tuesday at 10am works for a short discussion.

Less than seven seconds into the process of seeing email, opening email, and reading what the contents are, I’m already losing 15 minutes of my time for some random person?

It’s too much, too soon.

Think about it. Where is the value in these 15 minutes for the prospect?

Discovery calls are notoriously useful for the seller as a qualifying tool and useless for the prospect, who sits and is interviewed (far too often like the police interview a suspect in a capital crime, minus the hot lights and handcuffs) for a while about their problem.

Why would anyone want to sign away 15 or even 30 minutes to talk about something you glazed over in a cold email?

Instead, offer some real value and insight. Follow up later once your prospect has thought through the premise and offer a valuable discovery call, thusly named after discovering the real answer to their problem you teased about in your sales outreach.


Poor targeting

We’ve all received the generic emails inquiring, “Are you going to X event?” when you’re a million miles away from the event location.

We’ve all been sent that same email about some crazy event that has nothing to do with our work or profession or company in any way, as well.

These emails are lazy, ruin your credibility, and make you look like you’re using a massive list and an email tool to try and get appointments (which you probably are).

The next problem I have found with poor targeting, is when sales people ask questions that are loosely related to your work but are not that related.

For example, asking the sales development team leader about their prospect data provider is a solid angle. But often marketing pays for this and uses the data too, so while asking the sales development team leader seems logical, in fact s/he has no power of relevance to the conversation.



Spelling, grammar and language

While this may seem obvious to everyone, it is surprising how often prospecting efforts are ruined by a silly mistake that kills the credibility of the sales rep or makes the effort seem rushed or unprofessional.

This is not what anybody wants.

One element that falls under this category that isn’t particularly obvious is to keep your messaging concise.

It’s a huge error to write an essay to a prospect.

No one has the time or can be bothered to read a lengthy email of pitching and information they didn’t ask for.

Remaining concise and respectful of your prospect’s time is a great way to retain attention span, increase your response rates, and keep your prospects awake (and interested).


Channels and medium

Cold calling alone may work, but mixing your channels is a better strategy altogether.

Sure, the cold calling warriors and social selling evangelists will hate me for saying that, but it is true.

The adage, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket,” works across most aspects in life. At a minimum, test and work out what channels provide the best results.

Even when you test different channels – like the phone/social/email/direct approach – there are still different methods of reaching out.

You can send a video email, send a text email, send a video via social, send it direct on a USB, a whole range of things.

Think differently, as not every outreach has to be a cold call followed by an email and a LinkedIn invite.

How impressed would you be if someone sent a video to you saying how good your last webinar was, which you were sent via postal mail on a USB stick, and then they emailed you about the USB stick with another video and left a voicemail? Mix it up.


Tame messaging

Sounding like a standard sales person is not a good look.

Nobody has ever illustrated this better than Ryan O’Hara in this video by Lead IQ:

Saying yawn-able phrases like “over there at X company”, or “I would love to get” puts people to sleep – fast.

It screams unoriginality, since you sound like every other sales person alive.

You’re telling your prospect not to listen to you, because they don’t want to listen to or read sales copy and pitches.

Cut out all of these sales-y phrases and talk like a human being who walks down the street and meets prospects for the first time, rather than an AI bot doing its best impersonation of a 19th century butler who’s prospecting in the 21st century.


Too personal, too business-like

Decision makers do not have time or the mental capacity to care about super friendly, over-the-top outreach.

“Hello prospect, thank you so much for the opportunity to send you an email. I apologize as you must be super busy, but if I could possibly trouble you for a few seconds I have a question, I hope you don’t mind?”


Equally, champions and other decision makers who are not extremely high up in larger companies appreciate some care for their status as a human being, not just a target for your prospecting.

Talking to people at this level requires a little more effort on the personal front, where you should know their background – as you should for all prospects, but it’s more relevant to mention it where appropriate to these folks – and use it strategically.

Evaluate the prospect before you reach out, considering their title and job role.

Are they top-tier seniority in an enterprise organization? Less is more.

Are they C-level in a smaller company? Experiment.

It’s definitely not a rule of thumb because everyone is different, but you have to consider every way possible to give yourself the best odds of success.


What’s next

If you can avoid these six critical errors in your sales prospecting outreach, you will greatly increase your chances of landing that deal that could make or break your quota this month.

Do one more thing to improve your sales messaging and ensure your prospecting success: add Behavioral Intent Data to your outbound cadence.

If you want to know how Behavioral Intent Data works and why it’s the right data for your competitive advantage  sign up for 100 FREE leads today  and give it a try.

Your quota will thank you.