Have you ever taken a step back because you felt trapped by someone pushy? In all walks of life, whether you’re back in the dating game or simply wanting to convince the other person to your point of view, sounding ‘desperate’ or ‘too needy’ puts people off. This is especially true for small business owners and sales reps. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve met entrepreneurs at networking events, who shove their business cards into your reluctant hands at the very onset of the meeting and then go hammer and tongs to convince you that their service or product is the next best thing since sliced bread.
In my sales & customer service workshops, when I listen to recorded conversations as part of my coaching process, I tune in straight away to notes of desperation in the person’s voice. The most common question I get asked by small business owners in these workshops is: ‘Nim, how do I sound more confident and less desperate when pitching my brand?’
Below are some common pitfalls to watch out for:
1) Don’t assume ‘a show of interest‘ is the same as ‘a desire to buy‘ Many small business owners and sales reps become excited as soon as a prospect shows the tiniest bit of interest in what they do. As a result, they assume they have finally stumbled upon their ideal client and become over-enthusiastic in pitching their product. It’s good to keep in mind that sometimes people are simply curious about what you do. They ask questions to understand better. Beware of jumping to a conclusion too early in the conversation.
2) Avoid talking too much While it’s great to be passionate about your product or service (and I encourage all my workshop attendees to always hold on to passion), it’s also wise to refrain from letting that passion get the better of you. Not every piece of information needs to be spelled out. Not every piece of information will be of equal value to your potential customer. Try and sum up what it is that you do in a powerful sentence or two. That’s the ‘hook’. Heard of the goldfish attention span? Research has shown that the average attention span of goldfish is 9 seconds. And that of humans is…8 seconds!!! Yes, you read it correctly….One second less than that of goldfish. Is it any wonder that most people’s eyes glaze over and they start fidgeting when enthusiastic sales reps keep talking without once coming up for air?
3) Found the Solution to their Problem? Hold your horses! It’s not a race. I once met this guy at a networking evening who asked me a couple of questions and immediately squealed in excitement that his company’s product was the perfect fit and exactly what I was looking for. I recoiled and moved away. Most people don’t like to feel as though they’ve been backed into a corner. Customers can see through sales gimmicks. Asking a couple of cursory questions deliberately targeted and aimed to get the response you want is not an effective long-term sales strategy. Telling a client that your service is the perfect solution to their problem often backfires. It is much better to let the client figure out for themselves that your brand is indeed what they need. This can be done by initially asking a question or two, and then weaving stories and anecdotes about others whose lives have been positively impacted as a result of using your product. It’s when the client figures out for himself or herself that they will move up the ladder of commitment.
4) Slow down when talking. When you’re a small business owner and business has been slow and dwindling for the past few weeks, it’s challenging not let a note of pleading creep into your voice when you meet someone mildly interested. When you’re a sales rep and you have to make a certain number of sales in a given month, it’s difficult not to feel the pressure and not to sound desperate when face to face with a prospect. You want that sale at any cost.I feel your pain. Been there, done that! While it may sound counter-productive, train yourself to slow down when talking. Measured speech is the sign of quiet confidence. And confidence is the universal magnet that draws people to you. No matter how worried or stressed you are about where you’re going to get the next dollar, practise the art of speaking with small pauses after a few sentences.
5) If they want to escape…step aside gracefully I can only speak from personal experience but in all my years in sales, this strategy has actually worked best for me, and ironically has won me the maximum customers long-term. When clients sense they are free to ‘not buy’ and that there genuinely is no pressure on them to open their wallets, they relax and are more willing to give your product or service carefully consideration. After asking for an appointment to discuss further, if the client responds with ‘No, leave it with me’ or ‘Not interested’, find out the ‘real’ objection. You could ask: ‘Is it because you’re busy at the moment and it’s not a good time to buy or is it because you really don’t see much value in what I have to offer?’ If it’s the latter, let them go. Not every prospect you meet will be your ideal client and it’s better by far to focus on those who see the value in your brand than to pursue those who simply don’t want it.
In conclusion, I’d like to say that desperation and despair are part and parcel of this game called Life. But once you figure out how to sidestep some obvious traps, the ride becomes a little less bumpy. As someone wise once said: ‘Don’t let desperate situations make you do desperate things.”
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