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5 reasons why your salespeople are found dead on arrival (DOA)


One of the biggest challenges sales organizations encounter in selling to the corporate market is getting face time with busy decision makers. Regrettably, there are many situations where sales professionals make a mess of the opportunity of a direct meeting or telephone call to a decision-maker.

The other day I received one of those cold-calls from a relationship officer from one of the leading banks in the country.  A few days earlier, I had opened a personal account in that same bank. I suspect someone may have given him the lead to contact me with the view of opening a corporate account. He didn’t get an appointment with me simply because he failed the WIIIFM test. After I hung up, I thought to myself: here’s a classic case of what I call a “Dead on Arrival” prospecting call. I begun to reflect on some of the other reasons why sales professionals may be “Dead on Arrival” when prospecting a decision-maker.

Here are the five reasons:

#1. Weakly Defined Ideal Prospect Persona

Finding and selling to the right person in an organisation is the most important factor in business development. Regrettably, it remains one of the most challenging areas for many salespeople and sales organizations. They fail to connect with the right people at the beginning of the selling process resulting in a lot of company time and resources wasted, as well as very long sales-cycles. The problem is that many sales organizations do not have a well defined profile of their ideal prospect persona: it is the case of none or too many personas.   A weakly defined ideal prospect persona impedes your salespeople’s ability to create and deliver the right message to the right prospects in a B2B sales environment. Being able to deliver the right message to the right prospect is dependent on pin pointing who the buyers are, what gives them sleepless nights and how they communicate.

#2. Understanding the Objectives of Buyers

All ideal prospect personas in corporate organizations have their professional objectives. They have goals, key performance indicators as well as other corporate initiatives to execute to be successful. B2B salespeople should understand what the typical persona in that role has to achieve for their organizations. What they care about and how your solution can help them achieve their goals. Fail to understand buyer;s objectives and you’ll be “dead on arrival.”

#3. Getting Past the Gatekeeper

Many salespeople’s headache is how to get past the gatekeeper. Fact is that they are trained in such a way to prevent you from reaching the decision maker. To them, a good work done is to prevent salespeople from reaching the decision maker. They are in a position to determine which salesperson fails and who succeeds. You’re ‘dead on arrival’ if you fail to get past them. It is therefore important to firstly see them as human beings and not get keepers. Secondly they’re a wealth of knowledge and a great resource to facilitate access, so learn to get them on your site. Thirdly and more importantly, build a strong relationship with the gatekeeper, a move which will separate you from other competing salespeople.

#4. Weak Value Proposition

In today’s competitive “New” and “Post Trust” era economy, it has become extremely difficult to sell your products and services by simply touting features, advantage and benefits. Salespeople need to differentiate themselves, their offering and their companies. One of the ways to achieve differentiation in a competitive and commoditized marketplace is to develop and use a strong and compelling value proposition to get into the door of corporate organizations. The Relationship Officer of the bank who called me failed to make any progress with getting my attention because his value proposition was weak.  As a prospect already multi-banked, I couldn’t visualize the value he could bring to my business with that telephone cold-call. Here’s the value proposition:

“Hello, I’m [NAME] a Relationship Officer from XYZ Bank. The reason I’m calling is that I’d like to set up an appointment with you for a discussion.”

“A value proposition is a specific clear testimonial of the tangible results (often citing numbers or percentages) a client gets from using your products or services.” Simply put, it is the business value of your offering to the prospect. The relationship officer’s introduction didn’t feature any of the components of a strong value proposition.

#5. Inability to Handle Objections

As a consequence of the relationship officer’s failure to deliver a compelling value proposition, I raised an objection when he eventually told me he wanted me to open a corporate account. It was the classic objection many prospects use in Ghana: “What can you do differently from the other banks that I already do business with?” His response was: “We can do everything that your current bank do and more…just give us a try.” At that point, I knew for sure he should be declared “DEAD ON ARRIVAL.”


The above-written reasons are just a few of the roadblocks that most of I believe salespeople encounter when prospecting for new business. It is important for sales organizations to review the five areas highlighted to see if any improvements could be made. The alternative to that, is to see your salespeople always “Dead on Arrival” when prospecting.





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