Like it or not, from startups to large corporations, everyone is in sales. Yet when was the last time you upgraded your sales skills? Sales and marketing isn’t what it used to be, and even with the Internet, social media sites, and sophisticated customer management tools, one skill reigns supreme: Sales
A while ago I came across an interesting book – a revised version of Marshall Goldsmith’s best-selling leadership book specifically addressing the changing issues of sales: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There… in Sales, by Goldsmith, Don Brown and Bill Hawkins.
16 Bad Sales Habits
The book’s message follows the same principle of Goldsmith’s first book – that it’s far easier to stop doing bad habits than to form new ones. This is the list of 16 bad sales habits your customers want you to stop doing. Recognize any of these?
Failure to Be Present: Repeated and annoying displays of behavior that indicate we would rather be somewhere else, somewhen else, or with someone else.
Vocal Filler: The overuse of unnecessary (and meaningless) verbal qualifiers
Selling Past the Close: The irresistible urge to verbalize and execute every possible step of the sales process.
Selective Hearing: The absence of active listening in the presence of a customer.
Contact without Purpose: Repeated deliberate communications for no valid business reason (other than wanting to sell something).
Curb Qualifying: The tendency to judge a prospect’s means and motive superficially from a distance.
Using Tension as a Tool: Also known as “sale ends Saturday”.
One Upping: The constant need to top our conversational partner in an effort to show the world just how smart we are.
Overfamiliarity: The use of inappropriately intimate gestures or inappropriate jokes/comments.
Withholding Passion and Energy: The tendency to forget that people decide on the basis of emotion and later justify that decision with logic.
Explaining Failure: Behaving under the erroneous belief that simply being able to assign blame, fault, or guild is enough to satisfy the customer.
Never Having to Say You’re Sorry: The personal inability to apologize or accept responsibility for personal or organization error or injury.
Throwing others Under the Bus: Sacrificing a colleague — Often anonymous, often vulnerable, and usually innocent — by blaming her or him for one’s on functional failure.
Propagandizing: Overreliance on organizational rhetoric and themes.
Wasting Energy: Taking part in organizational blame-storming and pity parties.
Obsessing over the Numbers: Achieving revenue, profit, or productivity targets at the expense of metrics of a higher calling.
According to the authors, these 16 most common sales habits are ones that damage customer relationships. The authors believe that maintaining and leveraging quality personal connections is accomplished by doing something much easier than learning new behaviors: simply stopping bad ones.
I think they’re on to something. In the past, sales people have been selected for their strong egos combined with a love for connecting with people. But more and more we recognize that sales skills are required for everyone, i.e., customer service reps and consultants. In general it’s safe to say everyone needs to learn better selling habits. Being a natural-born sales person is neither here nor there. It’s all about better communications to build better relationships.
Sales techniques are evolving and have been with the advent of the Internet. Customers are better informed. Products and services are becoming commoditized. What’s left that makes a difference in sales, upsales and cross sales, are quality personal connections.
Becoming better at selling.
On the next series of posts I will elaborate on how to overcome each one of the 16 bad habits. Which habit do you want me to start with? Can you add a few more annoying habits to that list?