Six Ways To Avoid A Sales Backfire

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What if you had a sales technique or pitch that never failed?  A process that always ended up in a signed contract?  There is nothing quite as satisfying as a sure thing.   Salespeople work hard to refine their sales techniques to find the thing that works the best.


Well, what if the reverse was true?  You’re cruising along with a prospect and things fall apart without a sale.  Do things seem to always blow up?  You may have fallen into a pattern of sales habits that always backfire.  At least that’s what a Forbes article, “6 Sales Tactics That Always Backfire,” suggests.  These six defeating practices come from Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations.


Respecting the “Chain of command” isn’t just for the military.  The first sales tactic that backfires is selling over the customer’s head.  So your prospect or buyers won’t budge.  Instead of backing off and coming back with more features or just giving the prospect some time, you make the mistake of doing an end run and pitch your product to their boss.  Instead of presenting yourself as tenacious, you’ve disrespected the real buyers and may have alienated the big boss as well. 


Another is backing down from a strong negotiating position.  It’s true that customers like to think they are getting a little something extra.  But once you’ve made your best offer and drawn the proverbial line in the sand, the prospect expects you to stand your ground.  Offering discounts or other concessions after taking a firm stand makes you appear weak and your product less appealing.  It can leave prospects wondering if your product or service was really worth the first price or if it was inflated just to give the illusion of a deal. 


Remember how your mother always said, “…if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Talking bad about your competitors or those of your prospects never puts you in a good light.  It makes prospects wonder what you say about them to other customers.  Trust is hard won, but easily lost. 


Sales is about building relationships, getting to know your customers and their needs, and solving problems.  No one likes to be “sold,” especially with a canned, generic sales pitch.  And especially not within the first 10 minutes of a meeting.  A sales pitch is about you, not the prospect.


Sure you’ve got a good product or service, but selling a customer something they don’t need, want, or won’t solve the problem will backfire every time.  It’s better to steer a customer away from something they don’t need than to make a sale just to make your numbers.


Long-term customers may love your product or services or they may just be too busy to switch vendors.  It’s possible they haven’t been approached by a competitor.  You can be so busy chasing new business that you make the mistake of neglecting your current customers or taking their business for granted.  You can’t assume that customers will be always remain loyal.


Avoiding sales mishaps is sometimes more important than doing the right thing.  Taking customers for granted, going over the buyer’s head, and making sales all about you can backfire, causing you to lose not only a sale but a customer for life.   Take care to care about customers.  That’s one sales technique that works every time.


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  • Esther W
    Esther W
    Good to know. We had a sales agent try to sell us a dishwasher over our heads. I did not like her. The guy that sold us the dishwasher listened to us.

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