Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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Are You Guilty of These 9 Bad Behaviors?

June 26, 2015

Sometimes, how you sell upstages what you sell.

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Think for a minute about some of your first sales calls. Maybe you were a pro from the start, but if you’re like most of us, you learned through trial and error what worked and what didn’t.

Be yourself. Be honest. Use the positive parts of your personality as you develop and modify your selling style. Experts are full of advice like that.

Over the years, you’ve probably also tried to determine why some sales didn’t go anywhere. Your products were perfect for those prospects, you thought to yourself, and they seemed interested up to a point. What went wrong?

Sometimes, it has more to do with how you conducted yourself than what solutions you were offering.

What Prospects Don’t Want

I’m not exploring this topic because I want you to be harder on yourself than some of you already are. But I just read about a study that might shed some light on your rejections.

If you find yourself losing patience during a sales conversation with a prospect, for example, take heart: This trait came in last (2 percent) in a recent survey conducted by the American Management Association. The organization recently surveyed 1,100 businesses to learn which sales tactics were the most – and least – annoying.

In the number one slot was being too pushy, with 24 percent. That can mean a lot of things, but I think of it as being so Todd Martin 062615 image 2focused on your own goal – making the sale – that you don’t listen to your customers. You see their lips moving and you know they’re talking, but you don’t hear them.

I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: The focus in the early and middle stages of a sales conversation should be on that person standing in front of you or on the other end of the phone or in an online chat situation. Who are they? What are their needs? Can your product or service help them? If you’re really hearing them, you’ll know when you can start to steer the conversation toward exploring a sale.

Not taking “no” for an answer was the most annoying trait to 23 percent of the respondents. It’s only when you truly understand your customers’ needs that you can empathize with their situation and see what value you might be able to offer them. That “No” tends to come earlier when you’re being pushy (see previous two paragraphs).

Following along these same themes, 18 percent of businesses surveyed cited not listening as the biggest turnoff when dealing with salespeople. And right on the heels of that, talking too much really annoyed 9 percent.

Todd Martin 062615 image 3The remaining unattractive traits were more tactical, and related more to the mechanics of a sales pitch:

  • Bait and switch (8 percent)
  • Reading from a script (7 percent)
  • Using meaningless sales jargon (or terms) (5 percent)
  • Upselling (4 percent)

Granted, you could ask 1,100 other businesses what their top sales pet peeves were, and the percentages might come out a little different. But this list rings pretty true to me, and it’s a good digest of behaviors that we all might want to avoid.

Stock photos courtesy of

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