Why Customers Hate Salespeople: Part Two
Customers detest high-pressure salespeople. In part one, we discussed how pressure selling intensifies the customer’s resistance to buy. The win-lose philosophy of manipulating the buyer to do something she or he probably would not do without some type of deception or trickery has created an image problem that we must shake. In its place, we need to listen with understanding and not force our selling agenda onto the customer merely to fit the sequences of a selling process. Win-lose has become lose-lose. Rather than closing skills, salespeople need to acquire relationship skills.
We’ve all seen such tricksters. Instead of acting like one human being speaking to another about things both of us care about, they create an obnoxious and stereotypical image that push customers to the door. Here are some selling philosophies and behaviors that can backfire on a salesperson.
Acting unnatural. When you are trying to sell something, the worst thing you can do is sound or act like you’re trying to sell something. Unfortunately, people new to selling often try to emulate a presumed sales personality that they believe will impress their customer to buy. While it is important to adjust to different personality styles, be yourself, but be pleasant and realize that you are speaking with them for their benefit, not just yours.
Talking over the head. Nobody likes feeling lost or confused, especially when you are trying to buy something. Big words and technical jargon will confuse the customer. Use a straightforward, simple vocabulary that everyone can understand.
Selling is not telling. Tell your story from the customer’s point of view. Stop thinking only from the standpoint of selling and educating your customers; think more about educating yourself about customers. Think in terms of learning with your prospect. As a customer, what do you want to know?
Too much talking. One of the reasons that there is such a negative stigma to salespeople is that some of us talk way too much. We try and hog the conversation, thinking that as professionals we know what is best. Selling is in fact learning. When you decide to learn something valuable in every sales encounter, selling becomes far more interesting. People are fascinating and never more so than when they are making decisions. Get curious and you will never be bored again.
Being a know-it-all. If expert knowledge were the most important ingredient in selling, then engineers, technicians and research and development people would always be sent to sell products. If there is an expert in a selling situation, let it be the customer. With the internet, your customers are a lot more knowledgeable. If she thinks she knows everything, compliment her on her knowledge and let her know how refreshing her expertise and experience accommodates your job. Who knows, you may even learn something.
Lack of knowledge. Not having knowledge about what you sell is like being the world’s best salesperson and not being told what you are selling. You should know everything about your products, selection, inventory, services, installations, and your company.
Focus on the wrong details. I cannot emphasize this enough: keep the focus on fashion and needs, not a bunch of arbitrary benefits she has no interest in. How can we make sure that product knowledge aids, rather than hampers the sale? By asking effective questions and sticking to solutions.
Promising more than you can deliver. Nothing turns off a customer faster than broken sales promises. Do not try to wow your customers with promises you cannot or may not be able to fulfill. Never make a promise based on your gut or faith either. The best policy is to under-promise and over-deliver. Doing otherwise destroys trust and referrals.
Overusing closing techniques. Another trait that puts off customers is to persistently use closing techniques when all you need to do is simply ask for a purchase. For example, the worst sales advice in the world is also one that is still advocated by many sales trainers: it’s called the A.B.C.’s of selling – “Always Be Closing.” The truth is that customers hate it when sellers continually pound away at them, and they know it is happening.
Lying. This should be obvious, but customers really hate being lied to. It is by far the most cited complaint by consumers. Anytime a salesperson misrepresents, stretches the truth, presents deceitful information, or intentionally overstates the capabilities of a product, they are lying. It is brazenly disrespectful to the customer and strongly resented, as it should be. This type of dishonesty is stealing from the customer. When you outright lie to a customer about features you know they will not receive, you are robbing them of benefits that you sold.
Not taking “no” for an answer. While persistence is sometimes important, by continually not accepting “no” for an answer, you are in fact arguing with the customer. Treat the relationship with respect, not antagonism. Some customers already expect rude behavior from salespeople. If you respond to their “no” by proving early that you respect their decision, you at once change their perception and show them that you recognize boundaries. A “no” that you respect the first time around has a lot better chance of being a “yes” later when there is more favorable information.
Not admitting a downside. Customers dislike salespeople who will not admit any downside to their product. These salespeople lack credibility. There are pluses and minuses for most products based on its application and purpose. For example, a high-gloss ceramic tile with a low hardness rating, while beautiful, is not the right product for a high-traffic entry way. Prove you are a trustworthy resource by being honest and realistic. If you pretend like your product will be all things for every purpose, your customer will not believe anything you say. However, when you inform a customer that a product might not meet their intended purpose, while they may be disappointed, they will respect you more.
Lack of follow-up. Many salespeople do not do what they say they are going to do. This ranges from promising to get information, to taking care of a problem or concern. Return phone calls promptly. Many customers utilize pre-sale promises as a barometer to predict the future services they will receive when making a final buying decision. No one wants to be disappointed later.
The Golden Rule applies in everything, and especially to whoever you are selling to. Treat your customer the same way you would want to be treated as a customer. In his book, Integrity Selling, Ron Willingham states, “Selling isn’t something you do to someone; it’s something you do for and with someone.” I call it “Humanistic Selling.” With likeability, trust, and the feeling that they know you—you will create the successful combination for increased sales, more repeat business, greater profits, and a windfall of referrals.
Good selling to you.