How To Lose A Customer In Ten Easy Steps

Terry Wisner
 


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Certainly, we’ve all observed the scene unfold: A salesperson behaving in a fashion that indicates he or she desperately wants to lose their customer. You know, that behavior that reminds you of a hungry bear stalking spawning salmon. Unfortunately, every one of us has experienced this wonderful feeling of disrespect. Having performed at many levels in the sales process, I have no idea why sales people act this way, but the fact is they do.

Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to deliver my “Selling Skills” workshops to thousands of sales people. Often, I ask half of the participants to brainstorm the attributes of “Good” sales people, and the other half to brainstorm the same for “Bad” salespeople. As you might guess, the majority of the descriptions on one list are the exact opposite of those items on the other list. Participants can always create more examples of negative traits for sales folks. When asked why the list of negative characteristics is longer, participants always say they better remember their negative experiences (they can't forget it. ) Therefore, I feel a sense of obligation to share the following traits of ineffective sales practices to make everyone aware of them. This way (and I have no idea why you would want to) you can easily lose customer after customer. Study these traits carefully, and you too can be recognized as… well let’s just say, a not so good salesman or saleswoman.

1-Focus only on your quota not their needs. This is a really good one and one that is easy to do. Simply tell them what they need to buy without asking any questions. After all, you need to get your numbers up, and that’s all that’s important. You can see how this could upset a customer or client.

2-Dump all the data (aka features and benefits) you have on the customer. Tell them all the reasons you can possibly think of as to why they need your product or service. This step is especially successful when you use technical data and industry or company acronyms. Try to impress them with how much you know…that will turn them off for sure.

3-Talk down to them, particularly women. This technique is effective with everybody, but it’s very effective for men to use on women. If you are trying to sell to a person, just talk to them like they are as “dumb as a box of rocks. ” Not only can this show how much you know, it will put them in their place and quite likely will force them out of the showroom, store, or for sure away from your “service” desk.

4-Show them you don’t care. If, by chance, you do slip up and ask an open or closed question, it is easy to recover. When the customer begins to describe their needs and wants, simply do one or more of the following;

  • Don’t make eye contact
  • Cross your arms and look at the floor
  • Act distracted, look outside, or better yet talk to somebody else
  • Never write down a thing- that always makes them think you’re listening
  • And of course answer a phone or one that always works- make a phone call Remember, non-verbal communication tells more then the spoken word.

    5-Maintain preconceived notions and assumptions. After all, you can usually tell a “dead-beat” as soon as they drive in the lot or walk in the door. You can almost always know who’s going to buy and who’s not going to buy. This ability may take a new salesperson several months to learn, but it is very effective in turning away potential customers. Incidentally, this ability is best learned from experienced sales people that have work many different sales jobs over the years.

    6-Minimize customer concerns. Of course they have concerns, but the sure way to turn them off is to act like their concerns are petty and they should be embarrassed to even bring them up. This one also works best if you roll your eyes in disbelief when they express a concern. If that doesn’t get them to leave, try going back to dumping all the data you have, that should do it. Brushing off customers concerns and proceeding with your “sales pitch” can leave your customer believing you don’t care about them.

    7-Criticize the competition. Shooting down the competition not only shows how much you know about your product and the passion you have for losing customers, but it also gives you the opportunity to embarrass them again. You can be sure that they or one of their friends or family have purchased the product or service you are condemning. You can really hit a nerve with this one.

    8-Evoke the 20/80 rule. Many sales experts maintain that the sales person should talk only 20% of the time in the sales interaction. That kind of behavior will never chase a customer away to procure elsewhere. Although it may be difficult for some of you, try to talk at least 80%, and listen only 20% of the time. However, I will just bet, you have seen some professional “customer losers” that talk nearly 100% of the time. That reminds me of the old saying, “I have never heard of a salesperson that listened their way out of a sale. ”

    9-Poor hygiene can also turn away those annoying customers. Of course overall sloppiness and that disheveled, “I just rolled out of bed” look can give them the impression that you not only don’t care about them, but you don’t even care about yourself. Now let’s get a little more personal about a couple of things. First, bad breath, it nearly always turns people off. So be sure to only brush at the end of your work day. Note: it is also very effective to have alcohol on your breath, but don’t drink it, just swish it around a bit then spit it out. Secondly, body odor. This one can really be helpful in forcing customers to say no thanks and RUN out the door. Note: This is very successful when combined with not honoring a person’s “space. ” Get as close to them as possible.

    10-Never stop closing the sale. Go to close as quickly as possible then keep closing as you walk them out the door. This is best if used even before they try to express any concerns. Once they are out the door, forget about them and never follow-up with a customer. That may give them the thought that you really do care. All good sales people recognize that customers want their salesperson to really care about them and their business.

    Using one or more of these behaviors will help you lose your customer. As I said before, I don’t know why anyone would want to lose a customer, but we have all seen and experienced sales people acting in the manner outlined above. Getting people in the door is tough these days, why turn them off and send them away? Why exhibit any of these behaviors? If you have reason to believe you may occasionally be guilty of conducting yourself in one or more of the manners described above, then you need to learn more about selling skills. Next, you should plan to change and commit to changing your existing behaviors. Only then can you begin to see a true change in both your actions and in the number of customers you “lose”.

    Copyright© 2004-2005 Terry Wisner

    Terry Wisner founded Partnering To Success to help others be more successful in all their business and/or personal goals. Business owners, sales and leadership teams have found the Partnering To Success process can help them become what they want. Terry has traveled worldwide to train sales teams and business owners about what needs to be done (goals, aims, objectives, targets, ambitions, aspirations, et cetera) and how to properly plan to accomplish it. He knows how to communicate effective customer retention. Contact him to see if he can help you or your organization through one of his keynote speeches or an in-house seminar. Learn more about Partnering To Success at http://www.p2s.us or http://www.partneringtosuccess.com see how the process can help you be more successful.

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