Some would argue that a salesperson’s number one job is to make people feel good, or, at the bare minimum, comfortable. Most people think long and hard before parting with their hard-earned money, and without trust and rapport, that decision becomes even more difficult.
But as with all things that involve human behavior, this can be complex, especially when there’s so much conflicting sales advice out there. What one person believes will help build rapport can make other people cringe, and some sales tactics are so outdated, they can backfire spectacularly, costing well-meaning salespeople their deals.
Here are six common sales habits that can make you seem condescending, and are more likely to hurt, rather than to help, you:
1. Repeating a prospect’s name
People like to feel important, but if you insist on repeating their name over and over again, it’ll just come off as patronizing. It’s a sales tactic that’s long outlived its usefulness, and it more likely to give people creeps than it is to endear them to you. By all means, reference the prospect’s name when you’re greeting them or saying goodbye, but if you think that sprinkling it into the end of every sentence will increase your chances of closing the deal, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised.
2. Arguing about the transaction
Some people believe things that are categorically untrue, no matter wha. Your job as a salesperson isn’t to prove them wrong, it’s to close new business. There’s a quote that says: “Win the argument, lose the sale.” Who cares if you end up being right if it ends up costing you the deal? Instead of arguing, acknowledge the prospect’s point of view, then frame the issue as one that’s on their turf. It’s easier said than done, and sometimes the disagreement is insurmountable, but always aim to defuse confrontation rather than inflame a disagreement.
3. Explaining the obvious (without being asked to)
Many salespeople find it difficult to stop talking when we’ve launched into one of our long explanatory diatribes. But if we had an editor to review our rants, its likely they would cut at least 30% of them for being obvious or redundant. If a prospect feels like you’re explaining things that someone in their position should know, they might assume you think they’re stupid, and will behave accordingly. Instead, skip the entry-level lesson unless you’re asked for clarification. It’ll help the prospect feel like you’re on an even playing field.
4. Being overly complimentary
Flattery won’t always get you everywhere, especially when the dynamics of the transaction are obvious. Sure, some people love compliments, but you shouldn’t go down this road unless it becomes obvious that you’re dealing with a narcissist. Instead, keep the compliments limited, professional, and sincere, otherwise prospects will easily see through them. (You are, however, always welcome to compliment us on our blogs in the comments below.)
5. Getting into a debate about anything
Thanks to social media, it’s likely we’re in the golden age of arguing. But unless it’s with your coworkers, you should keep debate out of your sales life. People have their own opinions, and you never know just how strongly a particular issue matters to someone, or how much your position might affect their perception of you. But even if you put that aside, there’s almost no way you can build more rapport with someone by arguing with them.
6. Calling people by a nickname
In most cases, a salesperson isn’t being malicious when they call the prospect by something other than their name. But referring to somebody as “chief,” “boss,” or, “cap’n,” not to mention dreaded customized nicknames, can immediately destroy any goodwill you’ve spent hours building. It’s simple: call somebody by their name, and if you’re unsure what they prefer to be called, just ask. And make sure to keep in mind the regional or cultural nuances in the areas you’re selling. Take the time to understand what’s acceptable and what’s not, and you’ll be a step ahead of those who never bothered.