Beware The Sales Trap


As someone who helps businesses grow, I often times see very questionable actions taken on the part of business owners or those presented to them.   Sometimes they are rather innocuous or expensive.  Sometimes a play on words without substance attracts a business owner.  Thousands of dollars in worthless marketing goes out the window, thousands of dollars for new gadgets go out the window, thousands of dollars in advertising go out the window.  I say out the window because those spending the money cannot describe or identify an accurate return on those dollars.  The business owner just threw their money at something, out the window, and hoped the sales would follow. 

In the last few months, I have been on the receiving end of a unique solicitation, perhaps you have too.  These people know nothing of my business, they don’t know anything about what I do.  Yet, they send me an e-mail, with the Subject Line, “Lead Generation and Appointment Setting Program”, worded something like this: 


I’d like to know if your company can use some help with cold calling prospects and setting appointments for your salespeople. We perform such services and apart from helping boost your local business, we can even expand your reach by looking for potential national customers. If you’re available this week, I’d be happy to talk to you to discuss more about our services. Just let me know how best to reach you.


 What an amazing solicitation.   A canned one, no personalization, no interest in my business, but the underlying message is…pay me money to call people for you and get appointments. 

Let me begin by saying I believe cold calling to be the single greatest waste of time that anyone in sales can undertake.  These people are attempting to convince you that they will give you leads that will result in more sales.  Cold calling isn’t sales.  Cold calling means exactly that, you call someone cold…out of the blue and attempt to interest them in something you don’t even know they need or want.  They may not even know they need or want it.  Further, they may not even be able to buy what you have.  In reality this isn’t sales…it is a throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks marketing effort. 

Why would anyone engage a service such as this is beyond me?  Oh, they may well get me lots and lots of appointments for you.  But by their knowing nothing about my business, nothing about my services and nothing about the geography of where I operate, they are wasting my time (and money) and the time (and money) of anyone else who contracts with them. 

Those who engage in this activity will undoubtedly challenge my position and disagree.  Good for them.  But in that this is actually a marketing effort, let’s see how effective it is.  So ask these questions: 

  1. What is the upfront cost to you if you engage in this?
  2. How much does it cost you to conduct the sales calls this obtains for you (time, travel, materials, etc.)?
  3. How many (much) sales did you get (new business)?
  4. What are the gross sales from that new business?
  5. What is the profit from those sales, if you even get sales?

If you cannot answer those questions you are throwing your money away.  In fact, any marketing effort you purchase should be able to provide you with the answer to those questions.  If it isn’t giving you a positive return in NEW BUSINESS you are wasting your money. 

I don’t like waste.  As a Business Owner, you shouldn’t either.  In the scenario above the only person not experiencing waste is the one you are paying to create waste for you. 

Think about that the next time someone says to you….I can get you more business … Ask them to demonstrate that, ask how they will prove that and ask how they can prove a bottom line positive result.  More sales does not mean more profit. 

As small business owners, you know how to provide your product or services to a customer.  What you don’t always know is the best way to obtain those customers.  You may not realize that more customers does not always equal more profit.  In fact, sometimes more customers can cause your business to fail.  Don’t Market and Sell in a vacuum.  Look at the entire business holistically.  If your marketing and sales efforts are not in sync with your production or service, aligned with your customer service and customer care, and overseen by good waste elimination and leadership, you are heading for trouble. 

Don’t buy into the hype.  Manage your sales, manage your business…do it right for sustainable results.