MAYDAY: Steer Clear Of These 3 Overused Sales Tactics

No matter how long you’ve worked in sales, whenever introducing yourself and talking about what you do for a living, it’s impossible that you escape the jokes and horror stories others have about dealing with someone whose sold them faulty goods or services.  The vast majority of people in sales aren’t working against their customers, but the nature of their work automatically forces people to proceed with caution.


Are you tired of the stereotypes? Get comfortable—they’re not likely to go away anytime soon. That said, you can definitely do your part to remove the shady stigma commonly associated with one of the most important professions in the marketplace. How, exactly? Good news—it’s really quite simple.


Potential customers don’t want deception—they want a real person who can help them find a real solution to their real problems. Regardless of how genuine your intentions, when you employ the destructive powers of three painfully overused sales tactics, you perpetuate the very reputation you’ve always hoped to eliminate. No worries—I’ll show you what I mean:


1) Going Well Out of Your Way to Attempt to Find Common Ground


Have you ever witnessed a bad date from across the room? It’s awful. Pay no attention to my first point, and you could very well be the one making others feel uncomfortable and working your way right out of the opportunity. Establishing common ground is a great way to break the ice, but it by no means is the only way.


Social selling comes into play here.  While it’s important to understand and leverage (at the appropriate time) what’s important to your prospects– it can work against you if not used to create value.


Remember, it’s about establishing a connection.  If there clearly isn’t one, don’t force the issue. If you do, the conversation will come off as forced or unnatural and you’ll turn your audience off to potentially close a door you worked so hard to open in the first place.  Oftentimes, a simple smile will suffice or a question to get to know them better—remember it’s not about you, it’s about them and their business objectives.


Not all prospects or customers are created equal, treat them as individuals with a customized approach that suits them and their goals and you’ll reap the rewards.


2) Name Repetition, Name Repetition, Name Repetition, etc.


Psychologically speaking, people love hearing their own name. Sure, it’s a sweet sound, but more than anything else, when addressing them, it evokes feelings of kindness and sincerity. Seriously, try these sentences on for size:


  • “I really appreciate it.”
  • “I really appreciate it, Amy.”


Yes, you can see the difference between the two, but can you feel it? Using a potential customer’s name is an easy way to boost your likability during a sales pitch. However, take things to an extreme, and you’ll appear both patronizing and robotic. Be smart—call a client by name, but make sure to use their name naturally where and when it makes sense.


While we’re on the topic of names, an additional bonus tip…Don’t be a soulless name dropper.


3) Lights, Camera—Action!


Of each of my points, this is clearly one of the most hazardous to your sales health—portraying something you’re not. Think of things this way—if a clown came to your business meeting, it would be distracting, wouldn’t it? Of course it would—you may have trouble focusing on the task at hand while holding back laughter.


Putting on a sales show of sorts has a similar effect—it’s distracting. Only, instead of producing a hysterical story to tell later at the dinner table, studies have shown that when people don’t present themselves in an authentic way, audience brains respond as though they’re being threatened. You can’t make this stuff up—it’s real.


No, there’s nothing wrong with making a conscious effort to be more charismatic or enthusiastic about your product or service, but if personality adjustments flirt with emotional aggression, you’ll quickly lose trust, rather than gain it.


This is where EQ comes into play.  Taking the time to think about where your prospects are coming from, listening and creating solutions to address what’s most important for them will make a tremendous difference to transform your business and theirs.  YOU are there to be their tour guide for your product or service and it’s critical to stay true to who you are and how you can really help them versus manufacturing a sticky web of half-truths and empty promises.




You’re not a used car salesman, you don’t go door to door and you’re not stopping random people in the mall to tell them about your kiosk’s latest lotion—you’re an outstanding performer with plenty to offer both your employer and prospects/clients. Needless to say, to continue down this path, steer clear of the above sales tactics. You might not project a shady message, but they will.


While I’ve spent the majority of my career in sales, I openly recognize that my experiences haven’t necessarily been yours. As such, I’d like to hear what you think—what out-of-date sales methods need to be held accountable for the negative impact they have on those who use them? In the comments section below, make your thoughts and feelings known! Can’t wait to see what you’ve got for me—thanks for reading!


-Amy Volas


This was originally written on LinkedIn