SALES MANAGEMENT

Are You Annoying Your Customers?
Selling Power Editors

Most folks who are annoying are unaware of how they come across to others. But that lack of self-awareness could be hurting a sales career. After all, who wants to do business with someone who makes them annoyed, anxious, or even angry?

Consider colleagues, too. Teamwork boosts sales, yet if you're annoying, your team may be keeping you out of the loop. What about your sales manager? You may not get that plum territory or account if you annoy your boss.

To stop being annoying, you must first recognize that there's a problem. The following are some examples of annoying behaviors. See if they're familiar:

Being very aggressive. Some buyers respond positively to aggressive sales tactics, but many, perhaps most, do not. It's one thing to be assertive and action oriented; it's quite another to be pushy and aggressive.

Not knowing your audience. Sales professionals must be able to adapt to any type of personality and style the buyer may have. If the prospect wants to hear numbers, be ready with numbers. If the prospect is a "big picture" thinker, forget the numbers and stick to broad themes.

Not listening. A stereotypical no-no in sales is talking incessantly. Don't become so focused on your own needs that you don't listen to the client. Note that not listening can also exhibit itself through arrogance, being overly demanding, and consistently monopolizing conversations.

Talking jargon. Many salespeople can become guilty of talking over prospects' heads with lots of techno babble. Don't rely too heavily on industry terms.

How do you know when you're annoying people? One of the surest ways is to watch their body language. When turned off by annoying behavior, people look around or turn sideways as if they're ready to leave. Their smiles may turn to frowns. They may start crossing their arms, moving away from you, or having less and less eye contact. What people say and how they say it can be revealing. Do you often find that at sales meetings you're interrupted or that your audience doesn't listen? If you dominate the conversation, you may well be annoying people.

If you really want to improve, get a person you trust to go with you on a sales call or listen in on a phone call, and ask for feedback. Then brainstorm ways you can do better. The best way to break a habit is to establish another, more constructive habit. For example, if you're a constant talker, stop talking. If you tend to be silent, make an effort to open up. Then practice, practice, practice. The more you do it, the more pleasant you'll become to work with.

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