Unless your product or service is so amazing that it sells itself, a salesperson is likely the crucial bridge between your company and your potential client. Put the right person in the selling position, and he can make a sale happen in a heartbeat. Choose the wrong sales person, and you can literally watch your revenues walk out your door over and over again. Compare your sales force to this checklist of the most annoying things sales reps say and do to determine whether you're fielding a loser or backing a winner.


1. Wasting time with empty niceties. A winning sales person will skip filler and get his message out as quickly and clearly as possible. "How are you?" has no business in the conversation. It's a great way to irretrievably squander 3-5 seconds of the paltry 20 seconds you have to focus my attention on your product and the benefit it will bring me. Get to the point.

2. Telling lies of any kind. Whether it's saying you spoke to my finance manager (this function does not exist at my company) or pretending you have information on my business that you don't have or have come by using questionable means, you are destroying your chance at a sale in one fell swoop. A sales rep who feels he has to lie to begin a dialogue doesn't really believe his product or service is worth buying--so he's not worth keeping around.

3. Making unfounded assumptions. Top sales people don't assume. They investigate. A sales person who calls asking for Mr. Nornberg, because he has seen only my last name on his contact list, and mistakenly assumes that the owner of my company is a male will receive my curt, "This is Mr. Nornberg. And I'm not interested"--not so much because I am offended that he assumed the owner of a company has to be a man, but because he assumed he could sell me something without understanding my company or learning about my needs. I know he is not interested in helping my business, but in hearing the cha-ching of his sale--and we need go no further.

4. Failing to follow-up. I often suggest to a salesperson calling on my business with a product I think might be of interest that they send me further information, which I offer to review over the weekend. However, in most instances he never sends the information--likely telling his bosses that he "qualified" the lead and found it worthless. In reality, he has just quashed his own opportunity. Even if his product sounded interesting, his failure to send the requested information is the nail in his coffin-- there is no way I will do the follow-up to sell myself.

5. Playing cat and mouse. A good sales person knows that every instance of outreach to a prospect should include all the information necessary for me to say yes: value, proposition, and price. A sales person who sends me only teasers thinking he will get me to interact with him is backing away from, rather than moving towards, the close. Sell like you mean it--be specific. I don't spend on an unknown.

6. Creating false urgency. A sales rep who tells me that I need to purchase something now because his sale is winding down or his shift is ending, rather than pointing out the reasons why it would be beneficial for me to buy now is showing me that he is prioritizing his needs over mine. When I purchase something, I want to feel like I am doing so because it is in my best interest. A good salesperson knows how to frame urgency so I feel that waiting is not an option because of the value of which I will be deprived.

A sale happens when a sales person is genuine, specific, curious, thorough, transparent, and customer-centric. If you think your sales rep is lacking in any of these attributes, send him packing.