How to Prevent an Overzealous Sales Approach

How do you Feel When Someone Tries to Sell you Something you Don’t Want?

The natural reaction is to resist and, the harder a salesperson tries to convince you, the more resistant you become. The salesperson is conforming to the classic, pushy stereotype and this elicits a strong contrary response, leaving you unreceptive to anything that they say.

However, from the salesperson’s point of view, this couldn't be further from the truth. They sense your resistance, feel insulted that you have categorised them in this way, and are determined to prove you wrong. In their mind, you would greatly benefit from allowing them to explain, but you are not willing to listen and the salesperson must accept this, or run the risk of closing the door forever.

When initially meeting a potential customer, for example at an exhibition or industry event, a common mistake made by inexperienced salespeople is to be overzealous. 

 

"Believing in your product doesn't automatically give you the right to a prospect’s time." (Tweet)

 

You may have spent months trying to meet with this person, followed their social media updates and feel like you know them, but the problem is that they don't know you. This means that, by leading your initial approach with a comprehensive list of features and benefits, you are coming across as an overwhelming, pushy mess.

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Despite the best of intentions, there are four problems with this approach:

1. It is all about YOU, and what YOU want. You have made a number of assumptions regarding the customer without asking a single question. Yes, your product may add value to this person, but you do not know this until they have told you.

2. You haven't been granted the right to pitch. Having a product that relates to this person’s business does not give you the right to pitch it. Firstly, you need to establish their potential interest in considering your product. This will then open the door to a professional discussion which starts with the salesperson listening first, and then explaining how they can help.

3. You have no leverage. Without mutuality, an acknowledged need for your service, or any form of warm introduction, you are viewed as a stranger who wants something from them. How did you feel when you read the first line of this article?

4. You haven’t sold yourself. By leading with how you can help this person, you haven't established any form of credibility as a person. This results in an imbalance of power; you look up to them because they have something you want, and they look down on you as someone who wants something from them. This is never a good dynamic upon which to conduct a professional discussion.

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 A More Professional Approach

The first step to controlling your passion is to shift your mind-set. Rather than viewing the initial contact as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, approach it as the beginning of a relationship that can flourish, but only after being granted the opportunity to pitch. This will help you to keep calm and remove the air of desperation in your delivery.

The second step is to control your emotional approach with a defined process. Rather than leading with product features and benefits, try this three-step approach (the order is interchangeable):

1. Introduce yourself and engage a conversation by leading with how you help companies of a similar profile, a relevant news piece, or an industry trend.

2. Ask questions about THEIR business.

3. If you see a fit, ask for the opportunity to explain exactly how you can help.

The third, and final, step is to keep a healthy perspective. This is just another opportunity to help someone, but you are blinded by the potential rewards that it might yield. This is easily done, especially with those prospects that are difficult to reach, but remember, this doesn't have to happen in a single interaction, and a healthy pipeline does not rely on one single deal.

This article is dedicated to the chap I met at a recent trade show. Sir, despite what appeared to be genuine intent, your desire to shove your product down my throat didn't inspire me to reach for my wallet. Far better to establish a good first impression, then the subsequent contact will be met with a warm reception.

"The best salespeople maintain their professional integrity in all forms of communication, whether it is in person, by phone, or via social channels."

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