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Worst Sales Strategies Used by Small Businesses

When hoping to close a deal with customers, the way the salesperson takes action is just as important as whether or not the customer wants to buy the product. Because of this, using the right strategies while communicating with them can be the difference between making the sale and making nothing at all.

Interestingly enough, while many sales teams take lots of time to plan out their tactics, they often do not realize that what they are doing is not only annoying the customer, it’s making them not want to buy the product. Here is a list of 14 bad sales tactics that companies use that annoy their customers

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14 Worst Sales Tactics Guaranteed to Annoy Your Prospects

1. Using recorded calls but attempting to sound authentic

Using a recorded phone message on sales calls can be off-putting on its own, as it makes it seem like the company does not really care about the customer and won’t even put in the time to give them a phone call in order to pitch the sale. This terrible sales strategy becomes even more annoying when companies try to record messages that sound like real people on the other end of the phone. Customers can easily see through this no matter how hard a company tries to make the message seem organic. When the customer says something into the phone and the recorded message obviously does not respond to their words, the customer is both annoyed that their time has been wasted and potentially even insulted that the company assumed they’re gullible enough to believe that a recording was a real person. Recorded sales calls are an aggressive sales technique that works for absolutely no one and universally suggests poor customer service strategies.

2. Placing sales calls during dinnertime

Many people consider non-commercial calls to be rude when they are placed during dinnertime, and simply do not want to have to think about anything besides relaxing and spending time with their families. Considering the fact that many people who wake up early for work head off to bed early as well, a business that calls during these hours risks waking up their potential customer and turning them off to the business for good. Placing calls during dinnertime is not only an overly aggressive sales technique but also one that has no positive outcome whatsoever.

3. Calling back after being asked to take a customer off of the call list

When someone makes it clear that they simply are not interested in participating in whatever the company’s offer is, the wise choice would be to simply move on and not bother the customer again as this will simply annoy them and not increase the chance of a sale. When a customer explicitly asks to be taken off of the call list and receives another solicitation, their frustration rises even more. This overly-pushy sales tactic of many businesses is not only beating a dead horse, but it is also a demonstration of utter disregard for customer satisfaction as the company knows for a fact that they are annoying the consumer. To make matters worse, a company that acts in such a way will come off as desperate and is only ensuring that this customer will never be interested in business dealings with the callers.

4. Attempting to sound overly personable or friendly

When a stranger meets another stranger, the expectation is that they will be friendly but obviously only to an extent that is appropriate. The same can be said for telephone interactions, but to an even greater extent. Granted, if the customer is someone that the salesperson has met and established a relationship with, a greater degree of colloquialism is acceptable in a business setting. Even so, customers understand that the primary goal of a salesperson is to sell, not to become lifelong friends with the person whom they are speaking to. Trying to sound overly friendly when speaking to a potential customer makes the salesperson sound condescending at best, and creepy at worst. While it is important to be friendly to customers and treat them as people and not just ATMs, a salesperson must always keep in mind that consumers are not totally naïve and most likely know the seller’s intentions. The faker the seller sounds to the customer, the more off-putting the sales strategy will become.

5. Sending too many emails

The unexplainable, annoying sales tactic of spamming a customer’s email inbox is, for some reason, adopted by many of the world’s most successful businesses. Any consumer will tell you that this is not an example of causation, however- almost nothing is more annoying to the average consumer than sitting down at work in the morning to see a hundred new emails that most likely will never be opened. Customers often simply unsubscribe from the emails when they begin to become aggravated. Continuing to remind them of every single price markdown and new product that a business has is only going to seal the fate of that customer-seller relationship for good. Besides, sending emails less frequently is sufficient in drawing truly interested customers to the company website where they can then view all of the content that they desire.

6. Making it difficult to unsubscribe from emails

This strategy is the equally annoying cousin of #5, and is often paired with it to create a truly bad customer experience (that offers no real benefit to the business in return). If a customer is not interested in purchasing a product, they simply will not buy it, no matter how much the company that is emailing them tries to bother and pressure them into it. Simply hiding the unsubscribe button from consumers is not going to deter them from finding it, as this will only make them even more motivated to detach from the company that is aggravating them with this obnoxious sales strategy. The best way to keep a customer on the email list is to provide quality content that is properly timed, not forcing them to continue leaving unopened emails in their inbox that serve no purpose to either party.

7. Clickbait email subject lines

With email having been around for decades, (most) customers understand that the offer that seems too-good-to-be-true in the subject line, is, in fact, too good to be true. Creating content that appears to be intentionally deceptive will decrease customer trust in your product over time, even if they do decide to click on the email originally. One of the worst sales tactics used by businesses around the country is to stretch the truth when speaking to their customers, something that almost never turns into a successful sale. In fact, many consumers who are more tech savvy will not only see these emails as junk, but may even believe them to be part of a scam or a trap to infect their computer with a virus. This will cause them to delete the email without opening it, tell their computer to send all future emails from the company to the spam folder, and lose all interest in working with the company in the future. Email subject lines should always draw the customer in so that they read the email’s content and hopefully go to the company website, but should always be an honest representation of what the company offers and hopes to communicate to the customer.

8. Making it seem like the customer is pressed for time

This is a tactic that is stereotypically seen in infomercials (“quick, there’s only two days left! Call now!”) but is actually utilized by companies across all advertising platforms. Continuously alerting customers of the number of days left in a sale is bad, but trying to pressure them over the phone by telling them that time is running out is even worse. By doing this, a salesperson is not only trying to alarm the customer by saying that the deal is going to be gone soon, but also forcing them to make a decision in that moment as they are currently speaking directly to a sales representative. The result of this strategy could be two separate things: either the customer will decline to purchase the product because they feel pressured by the salesperson, or they will make the purchase and be angry about the pushy attitude of the company, not only terminating their relationship with the company but also potentially speaking ill about their customer service to other potential consumers. This is yet another example of an aggressive sales strategy that is one of the worst possible tactics for a business to choose but is adopted quite often regardless.

9. Spending too much time on small talk

Just as it is important to be friendly but not too friendly to customers, finding a balance in small-talk is essential in optimizing the customer experience. For brand new customers when there is nothing to really speak about regarding life outside of business, simply being considerate will suffice. Longer-term customers, on the other hand, will appreciate just a little bit of chit-chat before moving to business-related topics, as it shows that the company cares about their customers and sees them as more than just a wallet. It is important to keep this part of the conversation short unless the client is a close and personal friend, as their interest otherwise lies more in discussing business than “how things are going.” Especially in situations where a business is cold-calling customers, they may already feel as if their day is being interrupted and will only be annoyed if the conversation is dragged out for a long time by what is essentially pointless back-and-forth. Not only is this sales strategy annoying, but it doesn’t really benefit anyone and in fact wastes valuable time that could be spent making business deals.

10. Speaking above the customer’s head or talking to them like they are incompetent

By this point, it is most likely becoming clear that the key to good sales technique is finding the middle ground where the strategy is implemented “just right.” Yet another area where this is crucial is in the wording that a salesperson uses while speaking to the customer, as poorly used vernacular can either confuse or insult them. While using too much industry jargon will make the customer feel stupid and as if they are not qualified to purchase the product or even deal with the company at hand, dumbing things down too much will come across as condescending to the customer and have the unwanted result of making them not like the company. Speaking to a customer as a normal person would (in a non-business context) is almost always the best bet, unless it is an established fact that a customer is well-versed in the language of the industry or it is explicitly known that they need in-depth explanation. This is a sales technique that might not be aggressive, but it is definitely counterproductive if straying too far in either direction.

11. Stretching the truth/making an offer seem better than it is

While email click-baiting is undoubtedly its own subsection of this tactic, the general strategy of trying to draw in customers via promises that won’t be fulfilled (even if they are 90% true) is a sure fire way to annoy potential customers, increase the volume of bad customer-support reviews, and lose future business. The classic bait-and-switch technique falls into this category, as pulling in a customer with a sale and then trying to sell them a more expensive product is not only an overused and easily identifiable scam but also one that results in frustrated consumers. A far better tactic is to simply be honest about the sales and buyer-advantages that you have, and ensure that these promises can be delivered upon. This way the customers continue to be happy with the company honesty that they know they will be getting whenever they are engaging with that business in a sale or deal.

12. Not making time to meet with customers in person/only using impersonal outreach methods

When a company has the time to push their product on a consumer but doesn’t have the time to speak or meet with that consumer regarding the product or the company, they not only come across as disconnected from and uninterested in their customers, but even shady as they might be trying to avoid direct questioning regarding their practices. Even though customers already know that companies are only trying to make money off of sales, they will be shut down to making purchases from a company that operates with a disregard for its customers and their wants/needs as they will see it as a bad company for consumers. Although spending tons of time and money on consultants and customer service representatives might hinder company progress, it is important to have a sufficient number of people on staff who can assist customers in reaching a place where they are comfortable conducting business with the company.

13. Forcing products/services on a customer if they aren’t a good fit

Even though being persuasive while working in sales is an invaluable skill, connecting customers with products that they simply don’t connect with will eventually have a negative effect on both the consumer and the producer. If a consumer realizes upon his or her purchase of the product that they truly don’t need or want what they are getting, they will feel swindled even if the sales rep was being totally honest. Selling products to customers who have no real interest in the products will result in bad reviews, which will hurt future sales in return. Being good at convincing consumers to purchase a product is good when the consumer might actually benefit from the purchase, but in situations where all of the benefit is the seller’s, nobody comes out the winner in the end and this aggressive sales strategy ends up only causing harm.

14. Calling a business and expecting/asking to speak to the manager or executive

Much like an earthling who is approached by an extraterrestrial who demands “take me to your leader,” a company that is called by a seller that instantly requests to speak to the person in charge will almost never respond positively. The person answering the phone will either believe that they are speaking to a dissatisfied customer who is trying to speak to the manager to complain or will know that they are being solicited. An employee who picks up the phone and believes the former will go into defense mode, and one who believes the latter will most likely just hang up. Rather than attempting to go right to the top of the chain the moment someone answers the phone, speaking to that person as one would a normal consumer is most likely going to yield better results. While a business is going to understand the sales tactics better than a consumer, they will still respond positively to well-executed strategies and could potentially be interested in purchase what the caller has to offer.

Selling with Caution

Clearly, using aggressive sales tactics can result in more harm than good, and it is important for salespeople to take great care in choosing how they approach their customers. If a salesperson plays their cards right, however, they can reach an incredible number of customers successfully and make a great deal of profit.

If your business wants to be able to increase its sales volume quickly but does not have the capital to do so, invoice factoring could give you access to the cash that you need to fulfill your goals. What is invoice factoring and is it right for you? Call Factor Finders today to learn more about selling your receivables to improve your cash flow. 

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