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This week’s Marketing Jackass Award goes to… me.

Why? Because I just conducted one of the WORST sales calls of my life. Yes, it was that bad.

Let’s count the ways so that YOU can apply these 7 lessons to YOUR sales process. And so you never have to blow it like I just did.

1. Wrong prospect. I knew it in my bones even before we got on the phone. He doesn’t fit, he’s missing a lot of the DNA markers of our most successful clients, he’s sort of “out there.”

2. Wrong process. Did he read the material I sent ahead of time? No. Did he know what business we are in? No. Did he understand how we work and what we do – and WHY? No. Is this my prospect’s fault? HELL NO – it’s my fault for not following my own process (and not making SURE the prospect followed it too). The only thing worse than “wrong process” is NO PROCESS. And as a marketing coach, I’ve been guilty of that in the past as well, but this time it was all on me that I had a process that my prospect did not follow. I should have rescheduled the moment I found this out. But I didn’t.

3. Wrong budget. Why, why, WHY do I keep having sales conversations with people whose initial inquiries start with the phrase “money is tight” or “I don’t have two nickels to rub together.” (I’ve gotten both of these – verbatim – in the last 5 days). If they claim poverty on the approach, they will not suddenly become millionaires on the call. Bring up money FAST and EARLY. Not your fees but THEIR own pricing, their ROI, their average sale, their customer lifetime value. Do that and you’ll set the context for your fees as an investment and you’ll be able to avoid the sticker shock when you drop a number on someone before you’ve established commensurate VALUE for them.

4. Wrong words. Do you listen (TRULY listen) to what your prospects say in the first few minutes of your sales conversations? Can you identify when they are using the “right words” vs. the “wrong words” to indicate their readiness to move ahead, their understanding of the value that your products and services bring, and their level of sophistication as an educated consumer? If you did, you’d make more sales faster – and you’d stop wasting precious selling time with price shoppers, tire kickers and broke-ass losers.

5. Wrong questions. Do you listen just as carefully – maybe more so – to the kinds of questions your prospect asks YOU during the sales call? Can you tell from THEIR questions if they are tracking with your best clients and customers? Can you identify their underlying urgencies and priorities based on the questions that they ask? Have you ever gently redirected a “bad” question with the phrase, “The real question I’m hearing you ask is… And the answer to that question is…” Examples of bad questions include fear-based questions that fixate on guarantees, warrantees, all that could go wrong, insignificant details and irrelevant metrics.

6. Wrong bravado. When a prospect spends any significant amount of time telling me how successful they are, how financially lucrative their business is, how much money they make, and what kind of car they drive, I know we’re not a fit. Here’s the truth, folks: Successful people ARE successful. They don’t TALK about being successful. Someone who brags like this suffers from low self-esteem – or even worse, he is a mental child who is still psychologically trying to impress their Mommy and Daddy who never loved them enough in the first place. Move on – and quick!

7. Wrong fit. Put your current prospect in an imaginary lineup with your very favorite clients and very best customers – both past and present. Does this prospect fit? Do they belong there? Are they a natural extension of your business family? If not, that should be enough to get you to hang up the phone right then and there. Like attracts like. If your prospect would stick out like a sore thumb in your lineup of current clients, that means there is something seriously wrong and you should NOT allow that prospect into the circle of the clients whom you love working with – and who love you.

Fail to heed these 7 warning signs and the best case scenario is that you’ll waste a lot of precious time, energy and effort on the wrong prospects who won’t do business with you anyway. And the worst case scenario is that you’ll end up with a goofball client – or at the very worst, a “nightmare client from hell.”

Friends don’t let friends blow up their sales process.

You’re welcome.

I love you.

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