Misrepresentation in cold email outreach and social selling is rampant. In fact, it’s becoming a mainstream idea. The result is a popular, yet ineffective, sales email best practice among inside sales teams.
I’m talking about blatant lying. Faking sincere interest in a prospect as a means to tricking them into a self-centered pitch and/or meeting request.
“What’s the biggest challenge you have as a vendor or service provider?” asks sales trainer, Scott Channell, in a recent blog post.
His answer: Your prospects don’t trust you.
“They have been on the receiving end of too many exaggerations and lies,” says Channell, who then asks, “How much sincerity do you have to fake to earn trust?”
Think this isn’t happening in your organization or daily practice? It may be.
What It Looks Like
“Hey, Jeff. Love what you’re doing at Communications Edge …”
Reality: The seller knows nothing about what my business is doing lately.
“Hi Jeff, I am very interested in what you are doing and wanted to invite you to combine forces to help your business have more exposure …”
Reality: In most cases, the sales rep is not interested in what I’m doing. Because they have no idea what I’m doing. The rep is interested in creating the illusion of interest … all aimed at earning my gullible response.
“Hi Jeff, I came across your website this weekend and was really impressed by your expertise. I was wondering if you had ever thought about teaching online? I think you could teach a great marketing class …”
Reality: The rep is not impressed. Because they’ve not examined my expertise. I’ve been teaching online for years. That fact is obvious if you invest 10 to 15 seconds in noticing. This seller could not be impressed by my expertise without noticing that fact.
Why do I mark such messages as spam, so quickly? Why are your potential customers doing the same?
Because I’ve made myself vulnerable once too many times. So have your customers.
We’re being trained by sellers to distrust sellers.
Saying whatever is needed to trick prospects into speaking is, currently, fair game. It’s a sales email “best practice.” Insincerity is, right now, a mainstream component of sales prospecting culture. So what’s the big deal?
Do Your Emails Reek of Insincerity?
Making ourselves vulnerable cuts both ways. It’s the open, kind thing to do when receiving an email appearing to be genuine. Offering consideration to anyone who asks for it, especially the sincere, is smart. Humans are programmed to naturally think positively — maintain an “abundance mentality.”
But trick me three or more times and shame on me! Hence, we all learn to distrust sellers who exploit our willingness to be vulnerable. Because it takes too much effort to sort the truly sincere from the (fake) “sincere.”
In the end, sales (and your brand) earns a bad reputation.
“Buyers have seen it all,” says Channell.
“As soon as they sense a whiff of insincerity, or that their time is being wasted, you are done. And for those that do agree to speak, the no-show rates (to meetings) are high and the closing rates are low.”
“Your closing rate is going to be lower when you start the relationship faking genuine concern and interest or rely on gimmicks. That sales relationship is built on sand.”
Lies? Misrepresentation? Surely this could not be true in your situation.
But if your inside sales team practices activity based selling (ABS) you may have reason to pause.
Most inside sales teams are becoming defacto marketers — ramping up activity “touch points” to scale outreach. More meetings or demos demand more emails, voicemails … more outreach.
This is leading to a dangerous need: Looking sincere, authentic and relevant to large numbers of people using mass email.
But is your sincerity being seen for what it actually is? (insincere)
The Problem With Activity Based Selling
The ABS culture, mentality and practice is all about the numbers. ABS helps managers know how many proposals it takes to get one deal… and how many meetings are required for a proposal… and, thus, how many calls and emails must be sent for one meeting.
With ABS, success is reduced to squeezing more activities out of inside sales reps. But there’s a hidden problem emerging: Communications techniques reps are resorting to when communicating “at scale.”
Indeed, how much sincerity do you have to fake to earn trust?
To be fair cold emailing prospects isn’t about earning trust. It’s about earning a response. I get that. But how effective is it to earn replies using an insincere advance?
What kind of conversations can you expect? In my experience you may earn conversations with unsuspecting prospects. But once you engage in honest discussion (revealing your trickery) they quickly back out of the “conversation.”
Have you ever traded emails (or LinkedIn messages) with someone and suddenly realized, “hey… wait a minute, this isn’t about me after all… this ‘conversation’ is purely about them! They tricked me into listening to a sales pitch!”
Let’s set aside the issue of sabotaging one’s ability to close deals. How many times does it take for prospects to learn the pattern—becoming skeptical about all all inbound emails they receive?
A Sales Email Best Practice That Isn’t
“I talked to a team last week who was sending automated emails on their first touch and getting a 1.5% reply rate,” says Ryan O’Hara, VP or Marketing at LeadIQ.
“I asked the sales manager, ‘Hey … why are you guys doing something that only works 1.5% of the time?’ … they told me… ‘We need to hit our activity goal.’”
“We ran our numbers across the entire sales team and the results showed that we have to do 150 activities a day to hit our stretch goal for the year. We need each sales rep to get one or two good responses a day … to hit their quota of 10 opps per month.”
Not surprisingly, O’Hara reports the sales team had a 4.8% unsubscribe rate. The client was pushing more people out of their funnel than putting in.
Examine your sales communications technique today for any faux sincerity and misrepresentation. Seek and destroy!