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Three Sales Tactics That Me Shudder

By June 3, 2010July 15th, 2018Best Practices

There are all kinds of bad tactics earnestly applied in sales calls every day.  I do it; you do it; we all do it.  Nobody deserves to get beaten up for the occasional goof.  Everybody deserves to get beaten up for making the same mistake three times.  (Notice what a sweetheart I am – allowing us all to make the same mistake twice!)

What really makes me crazy is all the self-proclaimed sales gurus who insist on teaching and promoting the use of tactics that don’t work any more.  I’m compelled to go on record with what I consider the three most egregious.  Stop, PLEASE STOP, using these immediately!

1) Asking obvious, safe questions – to get the prospect into the habit of saying, “Yes.”  Would you like to save money?  Would you like to increase your productivity?  Would you like to work with a trusted business partner with a proven track record?  Questions such as these are bad enough in the body of a sales call.  They can be spectacularly counter-productive when dealing with an objection.  If the person you’re meeting is not insulted by this sort of drivel, trust me, that individual doesn’t have enough influence to make anything happen.  (By the way, the phrase “trusted business partner” doesn’t make me ill, but it does make me a bit queasy.)

2) ABCAlways Be Closing.  It was great theater in Glengarry, Glen Ross.  So don’t you get it?  It was great theater because it was satire! Behave as Alec Baldwin’s character did in the movie version, and you’ll be correctly labeled as a pompous jerk.  (Tone done the aggressiveness a bit and you’ll only be annoying.)

3) The Doughnut Drop – Make no mistake.  I love doughnuts!  In fact, as soon as I make this post, I’m heading off to a meeting with a client and I’m bringing those beauties shown on the right.  I’m not saying to never buy doughnuts.  I am wondering if you actually think the decision maker has “Doughnut quality, quantity and frequency” on his or her list of decision criteria.  If doughnuts are your difference-maker, maybe it’s time to look for another line of work.  At least this one won’t hurt you…  But please, don’t think it helps.

I know there are many more “Tried And True” sales tactics that are no longer true.  What oldies are you removing from your own repertoire?

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Good ones, thanks.

    I’ve heard good, smart people defend ABC, but at the end of the day, I just can’t go there. I’m with you.

    The repetitive you-can-only-answer-yes questions are the epitome of irritating. You might as well get a robe and a flower and start handing them out at an airport, begging for change.

    And donuts, well, ’nuff said.

    I find one other practice maybe not quite so obvious and venal, but I still don’t like it. It’s “power-mapping.”

    And in truth, I think it’s only the label that bugs me. As far as I understand its actual practice, it amounts to identifying various parties involved in a decision, and becoming aware of their interlocking goals, influences, and so forth.

    Nothing wrong there. In fact, I find it remarkably like the language I first met in the Miller, Heiman material around classification of buyers: economic buyer, technical buyer, influencers, gatekeepers, etc.

    Fine and good. So why, then, does it get hyped as power-based?

    My own theory–and I’d welcome enlightenment from someone who has actual information–is that the name itself is an example of scare tactics marketing. Find out who has the power; over-power the power people; align yourself with the powers in charge; empower yourself; find out who’s really got the power and leverage it for yourself.

    It sounds manipulative, fear-based, and power-based. Not at all the kind of things I like to think of in long-term, effective selling.

    It may be, in fact, that the ABC dogma suffers from some of the same naming problem. The intent, at its best, is to remind the salesperson (and the customer) to be continually moving the problem statement toward resolution. Nothing wrong with that either, but the name has led people like you, and Jill Konrath, and me, to react very negatively to it.

    Just a thought.

    Thanks for the provocative post.

    • Charles,

      Thanks for the intelligent commentary and especially for extending the campaign to squash hype and manipulation in sales. I too have been and continue to be a big fan of the Miller-Heiman buyer classification tactic. The “power based” thing strikes me as an an unorginal re-statement of the well known.

      Keep thinking and writing about this stuff. I makes us all better!


  • Todd Schnick says:

    I dunno, but I think donuts would move me to action… 😉

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