A friend of Geoffrey James (a columnist for Inc.com and the author of “Business without the Bullsh*t”) asked him: “What's the dumbest thing a salesman can do when he is trying to sell something?". Geoffrey James though it was a good question, because there were very common behaviors turned up in selling situations that are truly dumber than a box of rocks.
In the distant past, the dumbest thing a salesperson could do was to dress unprofessionally which automatically flagged him as a salesperson in people’s eyes. Fortunately, ever since the publication of "Dress for Success" in 1975, people learned to dress more professionally. A salesperson now can wear the same outfit as a boss, it helped avoid turning customers off.
In the not-so-distant past, the dumbest thing a salesperson could do was to use "salesman voice" when talking on the telephone. Just as the salesman "look" turned people off, the breezy, pitchman voice filled with ersatz excitement: “Hey! How are we doing today!” made most people want to puke. However, technology (email, voice mail, texting, social media,…) was gradually making the cold call obsolete, so there was less opportunity for "salesman voice" to ruin an opportunity.
Nowadays, many (if not most) selling interactions take place via email. Because of that, the dumbest thing that a salesperson can do today is to try to communicate to prospective customers using "salesy" language. Have you ever written to your customers or received an email with messages:
- "Thank you for your interest in our product!"
- "We guarantee customer satisfaction."
- "If you need further information, do not hesitate to call."
People who use this kind of language in their communications with customers are forgetting the cardinal rule selling via internet: Be genuine.
Consider: The whole point of sites like Facebook and LinkedIn is to help you define yourself as an individual-a living-breathing person who's totally unique. The gold standard for communication on the Internet is "person to person." Anything that reads like a brochure is considered useless SPAM.
What's the secret to sounding like a real person? It's easy: Write like you're talking to your pals.
For example: In stead of saying to your customers "Do not hesitate to call" , you better say "Give me a call and we'll bounce this idea around a bit" or "I can call you". That is your choice. That's the tone to use for your sales communications.
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