Five Foolproof Ways to Reduce Your Sales

By Heather Baldwin

As a sales manager you spend a lot of time teaching your reps how to do things right with your customers. Next time you’re feeling rebellious, show them how to do it wrong. That’s right – teach them how to annoy the heck out of your customers. Michael Schell, CEO of The Approved Group, Inc., says if your sales reps do any of these five things, they are guaranteed to aggravate your buyers. With a little practice, you’ll see sales drop and customers defecting to your competition.

1. Show up unprepared for a meeting. When your goal is to annoy a prospect, your best bet is to arrive for a meeting without having researched the company, without an agenda and without all the equipment you need. You really can solidify the annoyance factor by going on to ask basic questions that are answered on the company’s Website. “It’s annoying when reps haven’t done their research on my company,” one buyer specialist told Schell. “I also don’t like it when they ask me who the other supplier is. They should know who their competition is in my area.” Anne Stilwell, director, contract and procurement services for Fannie Mae, summed it up like this: “I’m not impressed when reps meet with me without researching our company. Instead, they use up half the meeting asking me for basic information. If they were true professionals, they would have done this before they came to see me. It’s also annoying when they fail to plan the meeting so the important content can be covered in the time allotted.”

2. Over promise and under deliver. To really tick off customers, tell them you can get them the order by the end of week, no problem. Sure, you know there’s no way that’s going to happen, but you can cross that bridge when you get there because after all your job is just to close the sale, right? “It’s annoying when sales reps break procedures that are already in place just to close the sale and then end up not delivering on their promise,” explained Jason Wihnon, supply purchaser for IKON-IMS. “Just be up front and promise what you can deliver. Missing deadlines is terrible. Don’t say you can do something knowing you won’t be able to.”

3. Sell through the back door. Every kid knows this trick – if mom says no, go ask dad. Likewise, sales reps who get a no from decision makers and really want to annoy them should simply go around them and try to get a yes from someone else. Here’s the complaint in a nutshell: “I find it frustrating when I’ve rejected a rep’s proposal and he or she calls back at another time attempting to speak to another buyer,” lamented Kathi Wilson, facilities assistant for IDX Systems Corp. “It’s unethical and sneaky and it makes for bad business.”

4. Show up without an appointment. Appointments? Who needs them? Your prospects will be so wowed by your product or service they’ll be happy to see you any time, right? If that’s your thinking, congratulations – you’ve scored a 10 on the buyer-annoyance scale. Equally annoying – and grouped here on this list – is the practice of continuous cold-calling or leaving message after message in the hope the buyer will one day return your call just to get you to stop leaving messages. The reality: “Constantly calling and annoying me is going to push me off even farther,” said Lisa Perdue, a senior buyer.

5. Talk too much and listen too little. If buyers carefully explain why your service is not something their company needs right now and you forge ahead trying to make the sale anyway, you’re an expert in this category. And if the buyers do have need of your service? You can still annoy them by charging in and telling them all about your solutions and your company without stopping to ask about their needs. The key to successful annoyance here is to tune out anything customers say and focus on your agenda, which is making the sale. In the end, that’s all that really matters, right?