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6 Sales Tactics That Always Backfire

Are you accidentally alienating your potential customers?

A while back, I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with Susan Scott, author of the best-seller Fierce Conversations. During our talk, she pointed out that many companies pursue self-defeating sales strategies. Here are six of them:

1. Selling Over the Customer's Head 

If you sell directly to the CEO after the executive you've been selling to seems ambivalent or hostile, you probably will not get the sale anyway and you'll have made that executive into your enemy for life.

2. Backing Off From a Strong Negotiation Position

If you offer a discount after insisting that your company never discounts, customers will rightly conclude not only that you were BSing them in the first place, but that you totally lack a backbone.

3. Dissing Your Competitors (or Theirs)

When you trash-talk your competition, the customer will assume that your own offerings are so weak that you must resort to low blows. And criticizing your customer's competitors always sounds like butt-kissing.

4. Giving a Sales Pitch

Nobody wants to hear a sales pitch. Ever. The moment you launch into one--either in person or online, your customers shut down. To engage a customer you must open a conversation, which is the opposite of giving a sales pitch.

5. Pulling Your Punches

Never be afraid to tell clients what they need to know when you feel they might be making a mistake. This includes advising them NOT to buy from you if your offering isn't right for them.

6. Assuming Customer Loyalty

It's all too easy to mistake client apathy for client loyalty. Any client that is not actively praising and proselytizing your firm and its offerings is open to changing vendors and may be actively looking to switch.

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Last updated: Jun 6, 2013


Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

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