Avoid These Sales Mannerisms That See You Shooting Yourself In The Foot

“Why would you want to interrupt a conversation that is to your advantage?”

Success in selling is not just about what you say. Sometimes what you do shoots you in your foot.   These three mannerisms work against the seller, possibly losing him the sale.

Cell phone etiquette.

Francis (RIP), salesperson par excellence, once told me this of using your cell phone while interacting with the buyer. He said: “Why would you want to interrupt a conversation that is to your advantage?” This is exactly what happens when you use your phone during a sales interview-you disrupt a process you most likely initiated and want to benefit from. You might as well chew your favourite meal and grab your throat to prevent yourself from swallowing it. Foolish? Yes.

Yet, today I still see sellers answering their ringing phones, or removing them to send a text, in the presence of the buyer! Besides the needless interruption, it’s also rude-you are telling the buyer that he is secondary, not as important. Regrettably, cell phones have become literal cells to some salespeople-they are imprisoned by them. Keep your phone on silent for the duration of the sales interview. Resist the urge to use it and discover instead a magical function called missed calls that lets you know who called ‘while you were away’.

Where were we…?

Whether it is to use his cell phone during the sales meeting, or, a knock on his door to attend to an urgent email, or, a tangential move from the line of discussion, buyers can disrupt the sales interview. Very few buyers will give you their full attention in a secluded room with instructions not to be disturbed unless a bomb goes off. And even when they do, fewer still will remain on topic throughout. A detour here and there is bound to happen. Sometimes to get a point to sink home or the buyer is naturally conversational.

Irrespective though, whether triggered by the buyer or some external force, it remains the seller’s responsibility to accurately respond to the question, “Where were we?” To say, “Err…I got lost too” or “I can’t remember either” is absconding responsibility and only serves to lengthen the sales process. It is for this reason that, to bolster your listening skills and keep the meeting focused, that you jot down notes as he speaks. This way, like the ‘new’ doctor seeing you an year later, you can refer to your notes and confidently say, much to the buyer’s amazement,  “You were explaining why this is a good time to talk about the purchase, as it allows us to factor it into this year’s budget…”

Don’t peep. Stare

The public displays of his achievements emblazoning his wall or desk are there to be seen and admired. By all means stare. Even comment if you feel like it. Observation is one of the ways of understanding and therefore connecting with your potential buyer. So congratulating her on her son’s award winning swimming skills is welcome; or, asking “Where was that?” about the photo of him by a refinery at a place you don’t recognize. Stare. Just don’t peep.

Don’t peep at his email as he is responding to it. Resist the urge to peep at the official documents on his desk, trying to decipher what they are saying. When a potential buyer catches you being a Peeping Tom it doesn’t augur well for his confidence in you. You cannot be trusted is the message you are sending out. Yes, I know, you may catch something that will help in the sale; you may also take the bait if it was a trap set for you to judge your credibility.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Respect the buyer’s confidentiality, keep the cell phone on silent and the meeting focused.


Read: Your business could be losing you sales. A customer explains how


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