It's never pleasant to be blown off or shut down by a prospective client. Even if you're a seasoned B2B sales executive, you know how deflating it can be to put your best foot forward only to have your pitch rejected. While it may not be possible to close every sale, there are definitely some steps you can take to reduce your chances of being rejected. One of the single best things you can do to boost your close ratio is to avoid some of the salesy behaviors and habits that are prevalent in annoying or high-pressure salespeople.
Below are the top six salesy behaviors that stop you from closing deals.
Top 6 Salesy Behaviors You Need to Avoid
1) Acting "too familiar" with new prospects
"Some sales representatives are like this (overly familiar)... You meet them once and then they act as if they are your best friend. Over-familiarity can vary from annoying to downright scary. Your customers should set the familiarity boundary and this should always be honored and respected." - Andrew Griffiths, Entrepreneur and Author, Inc.
Setting and respecting boundaries is important in every industry. But respecting boundaries is especially important when you're trying to woo a new prospect. Unfortunately, some overzealous salespeople seem to be unable to allow a trusted relationship to evolve on its own. In their eagerness to close the sale, they try to force a relationship to develop by trying to be too familiar with prospects from Day One. Here are a few common examples:
- Calling the prospect by their first name or a nickname. For instance, rather than saying, "Hello Dr. Smith," they may say, "Hey Fred!" or "Hi Doc!"
- Using overly casual dress or body language. Examples include wearing sneakers or shorts to a first meeting or putting your feet up on a table.
- Invading the prospect's personal space. This is a common tendency among "close talkers," or salespeople who refuse to socially distance themselves.
While you might be eager to establish a comfort level with a new prospect, it's best to refrain from pushing the envelope. Instead, remember to practice social distancing and err on the side of formality during your first meeting. Most importantly, take cues from the prospect and allow your relationship to evolve naturally.
2) Trying to force the prospect to commit to a purchase
Trying to "force a sale" or coerce a prospect into signing a contract is one of the most detrimental salesy behaviors exhibited in the sales world. These tactics are akin to bullying, and often produce the exact opposite effect you intended to elicit. Here are some common tactics salespeople use that can end up driving prospective clients right into the arms of your competitors:
- Using scare tactics in an effort to secure a sale or a contract
- Attempting to bribe prospects by offering favors, or "today only" discounts
- Calling over and over again, even after the prospect politely indicates they aren't interested in a purchase
These tactics can sometimes be so intimidating that they border on harassment. Remember you can't force a person or a company to use your products or services. The key is to uncover their needs and desires and delight your prospects with the numerous ways your products meet those needs. Taking this approach will motivate your prospects to learn more about your company and leave them more likely to invest in your offerings.
3) Engaging in "Sales Puke"
"Sales puke is the excessive sharing of a sales pitch, including a never-ending list of features and benefits, which does not allow the customer to get a word in edgewise... it's a disease that plagues many salespeople and, unfortunately, is so common that many don't even realize they are suffering from the infliction." - Erin Davis, Director of Sales and Marketing, Pacesetter Homes Edmonton
Also known as "Sales Vomit" or "Product Vomit," Sales Puke is a term used to describe a non-stop outpouring of unsolicited information from a salesperson. Sales vomiting is so unpleasant and offensive, that a prospect will do anything possible to avoid coming into contact with the salesperson again in the future. In most cases, this equates to immediate rejection and a request to cease any further outreach calls.
You can avoid sales puke by remembering that the best B2B relationships are two-way streets. In order to best understand the prospect's needs, you need to actively listen to their stories and concerns. This means engaging with the prospect instead of talking the entire time.
4) Ignoring the customer's needs and questions
Nearly every prospect will have questions or concerns they need to address before committing to a purchase or contract. Unfortunately, overly aggressive people are often on autopilot, and they forge ahead with their pitch without properly addressing these concerns. Then, the sales rep leaves the meeting expecting it's only a matter of time before they close the sale. The prospect, on the other hand, is left feeling ignored with unanswered questions.
Sales professionals can help prevent these salesy behaviors by always taking a notepad to their meetings so they can jot down key concerns and questions. This action alone will build the prospect's confidence in your company because they feel that the sales representative understands their needs and intends to meet them. Finally, it's always a good idea to follow up with an email that references the prospect's concerns and the steps being taken to address them.
5) Badmouthing the competition
Criticizing your competitors is rarely a good idea. Berating your competitors can cast a dark cloud over your meeting and can leave a bad taste in the prospect's mouth. There are four key reasons why you should avoid this tactic:
- You put the focus on the competitor and their products instead of on you and your products
- You take the conversation in a negative direction, which can make clients feel uncomfortable
- May be perceived as desperate, or willing to sacrifice basic sales etiquette in an effort to secure a sale
- You waste the limited time you have with your prospects, limiting your ability to build a meaningful relationship
If a prospect happens to bring up a negative experience with a competitor, it's best to do three things. First, listen to the prospect's story. Second, take the high road as well as resist the urge to chime in with your own negative commentary. And third, use the prospect's comments to help you better understand and meet their needs. For instance, consider a prospect who says, "I hate dealing with ABC Medical Depot. Their surgical tables break down and they never respond to our calls." Rather than jumping on the bandwagon, you can say, "It sounds like product quality and responsiveness are both very important to you. Fortunately, those are two of our strengths at Avante Health Solutions."
6) Using "sophisticated" bullying tactics
"Bullying comes in many forms. There's the obvious type, where the salesperson is just flat-out pushy, but there are subtler types, too. For example, you might think a statement like, "When would you like your service to start?" is helping you persuade the potential customer to buy. In reality, you're just using a slightly more sophisticated form of bullying." - Heather R. Morgan, Economist, ForbesWomen
While this behavior may not seem as noxious as some of the others on this list, this "soft" form of bullying can be highly offensive to prospects for two key reasons. First, it's based on an underlying assumption that the prospect is definitely going to invest in your products or services. And second, you're assuming the prospect won't be smart enough to see through your sneaky sales tactics. Essentially, you're behaving like an arrogant person who views prospects as clueless targets who exist to fatten your wallet.
What is the Single Best Way to Avoid These Salesy Behaviors?
Engaging in any of the salesy behaviors above will severely limit your sales success. But through education, observation, as well as active listening, you and your sales force can avoid these behavioral pitfalls and boost your B2B sales.
The single best way to avoid offensive sales behaviors is to seek the expertise of a B2B sales aficionado. With the help of an experienced industry expert, you can take control of your B2B sales strategy and arm your sales force with effective techniques that will be well-received by prospective clients.
We invite you to contact us at Bold CEO to discover why organizations across America turn to us for help maximizing their B2B sales performance. Through our actionable training and customized guidance, the Bold CEO team can help your team leave their aggressive, salesy behaviors behind.