Are you reeking of desperation? Can the buyer smell desperation hanging in the air like the stench from your sweaty armpits? Well, this could be why you are losing sales. You’ve let how the desperate state of the economy is affecting you, consume you. In addition to increased inflation, if you are on a salary, it’s now much less because of deductions from the new housing levy, increased NSSF and soon NHIF too. Despite this, I insist, avoid showing desperation when selling.

Otherwise, consumed with desperation, you helplessly wonder : “Don’t they know I was already on a shoestring budget?” “Don’t they know I was already struggling with rent payments, and keeping food on the table?” Whoever ‘they’ is, maybe they do, maybe they don’t. That is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the buyer does not care. He only cares that your showing desperation gives him an upper hand. So instead of you selling him your service, he sells you on why he shouldn’t buy. Or, why he should buy on his terms, which are a pittance. And why? Because instead of a solution, you presented a begging bowl.

What is desperate selling?

Now let me be clear. I am not downplaying the gravity of the foregoing problems. They are real and they can trigger desperation. What I am pointing out is that you should exercise caution with whom you share them. The buyer is the last person you should be doing so. The “woishee please buy” attitude will backfire on you spectacularly. And this thinking manifests itself in how you dress, walk, seat and talk. You manifest it in everything you do. So, fight it; embrace courage instead. Iron that shirt, polish that shoe, sit upright and walk with your head high.

Read: Three tips on grooming for the novice salesperson

One of the loudest signs of desperation when selling is how you dress. And as we’ve said here, if you sell your dress is not our choice. When your dressing reeks of desperation, the buyer simply sees you like an over glorified beggar, and treats you as such. And that’s if you are lucky enough to meet him. Otherwise, you are highly unlikely to go past the gatekeeper. Even the askari will feel confident enough to harass and deny you entry.

showing desperation when selling

How do you sell without sounding desperate?

Another clear indicator of desperation is when you quickly acquiesce to a price discount. In fact, you offer it before its even asked for. Almost like the dukawalla that tells you, “This one is one thousand but for you I give seven hundred (sic).” The only difference is that the dukawalla is not desperate; not at all. This is him showing authority to close. He tells you this with confidence, and will likely repeat it for the next customer and the next. And notice how he immediately goes in for the close because you have shown cues of readiness to buy. Now, desperation is different. Desperation is you, showing vulnerability and barely audible, nervously saying, no, admitting, “I know this price is high, but I can give you a discount.”

The problem with showing desperation when selling

And there’s two problems here. There’s the obvious one that you’ve just craned your neck way out for the buyer to slice your jugular with ease. Like a cat playing with a mouse just before eating it, he says: “Give me a discount.” Desperate you: “Take thirty per cent. Is that, ok?” Confidence imbued buyer: “No. Make it 60!” You know it’s impossible. Even thirty was stretching it. But instead, you say: “OK.” And then you start preparing yourself to go make the impossible sale (asking for discount acceptance) to your manager or the business. That’s the first problem.

The second problem is that the buyer starts smelling a rat. Because of your desperation. He doesn’t buy you and so wont the what you are selling. He wonders:  Are these goods past there sell by date? Will this product deliver on its promise? Am I being conned? Being polite he says: “Let me get back to you.” He doesn’t. Ever. Bye-bye sale.

Either way, you feed your desperation even more and like a fly wheel, your vicious cycle of desperation spins further.

When to show desperation when selling

Now here’s a twist. You can use desperation to your advantage. Like the dukawalla, Mwinyi was a stellar seller. He sold for one of the popular stationery shops in Kenya. In a quarter when he could see his targets far from being met, like the successful seller he is, he managed his image well. Mwinyi had no problem going over to a reseller bookstore and state, “Boss, if I don’t sell (this amount) this quarter I’ll be fired.” More often than not he got the order. But here’s the thing. It wasn’t any book reseller he would tell this. It is those he had cultivated a friendship with, hence the use of the salutation, “Boss.”

Let me finish with this Kiswahili proverb, Jikaze ndugu. Shida haikupandwa kwako. Yes, it’s a trying economy. For everyone, not just you. So, no, that doesn’t give you permission to go airing your dirty linen in public. And, if you do, heed this: the buyer doesn’t care.

Read: 5 ways to successfully sell in difficult economic times


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