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I did some work for a computer training company that had about 12 inside/outside sales reps.   I say inside/outside because 85% of their selling time was over the phone.  Since they sold to local clientele, the reps would also set up and go on outside sales calls.           

Shortly after starting at the company, I was sitting in the sales bullpen and I heard one of the sales reps say to a prospect, “Hi Paul, this is Leslie with ________.  I am going to be in your area on Tuesday and wanted to see if I could stop by.”  This obviously piqued my interest and I asked Leslie who else she was visiting in the area.  She said nobody.  I then asked why she told the prospect she was going to be in the area.  Leslie gave me two reasons:

1.      It’s a way to get in to see this prospect.  It’s harder for them to turn you down if you are at the front door.

2.      We have a contest for whoever makes the most outside sales calls.

Next, I asked Leslie what qualified this prospect to get her to drive there, maybe or maybe not see the prospect, and drive back to the office taking up 90 minutes. Leslie said she would find out when she got there.

I explained the following to Leslie:

·         Never lie to a prospect or customer.  It’s wrong and it will get you into trouble.

·         That she was probably wasting her time which was costing her money.  She had no idea if this prospect was qualified to purchase her training.  If she spent those two hours making calls and looking for qualified prospects to visit, it would serve her much better. 

·         The prospect probably didn’t believe Leslie would be in the area anyway.  He had already heard that one from other amateur sales people.

Using the “I’ll be in your area” line to try to see someone before qualifying them on the phone will cost you money.  When you do make expensive outside sales calls make them valuable calls…for both you and your prospect.

Sales Homework
– Make a commitment to never make an outside sales call without having qualified your prospect first.

Sales Managers – Don’t let your sales reps go on these frivolous sales calls.

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