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Top 5 Customer Pet Peeves That Stop Deals Cold

According to a survey by Harvard Business Review, 81% of buyers would rather work with a salesperson who has the “same mannerisms” as they do. 

It’s no surprise that people prefer to work with those they feel a connection with, but what specific “mannerisms” and selling behaviors did the customers list as being the most offensive? Here’s the list:

Top 5 Pet Peeves Customers have with Sales Reps and How Sales Leaders Can Help

#1 Pushy Sales Reps

The survey revealed that buyers were the most annoyed by pitches that ended with an incentivized rush to close. “The sale is ending this month, so we would need a contract this week to get this pricing.” You expect that type of pressure when shopping for a car near the end of the month — not when committing to a sophisticated product or service. Even if the discount or offer is valid, the push to close quickly doesn’t give your sales organization’s customer time to discuss with other decision-makers, assess the product against their needs, and consider the risks. 

“If you want to build a relationship, be patient, not pushy.”

It’s essential that your sales reps give their relationship with the customer time to develop. Instead of focusing on a fast close, reps need to focus on their customer’s interests and concerns. Once a rep becomes a trusted advisor and starts applying good Selling Judgment, they will have a much better chance of closing the deal. And a deal closed next quarter is better than no deal closed at all.  

#2 Sales Reps Who Lack Communication Skills

The survey found “only 54% of salespeople they meet with can clearly explain how their solution impacts the buyer’s business.” This is why it’s essential to take the time to really listen and build bridges. 

If a customer feels that they are not being heard, a communication barrier has already popped up. If a question pops up that your rep needs time to consider, let them know you are going to do research on their behalf before you reply. A delayed but thoroughly considered answer is better than a rushed reply. Encourage your reps to pace themselves and become trusted advisors, or they risk becoming a pusher of products and services.

#3 Reps Who Rush to the Friend Zone

Your reps probably know better than to talk about marriage on the first date. They should be applying that same logic to business. 

Sometimes a customer hits it off with a rep from the start. But most relationships take time to grow. It’s easy for reps (especially those new to sales) to become too relaxed with a potential customer. For example, swearing and oversharing that might be typical between friends could be the death of a sales deal.

#4 Sales Reps Who Are Poor Listeners

Are your reps opening pitches with questions? Are they really listening?

Listen to a sales convo to find out who is really doing the talking – your rep or the customer. Encourage reps to not just anticipate their opening to speak or a problem the product can solve. Encourage them to really listen. Understanding how to look for personality cues and read the subtext of sales conversations is a valuable selling behavior. 

  • Is this customer very buttoned-up or laid back? 
  • How tech-savvy are they? 
  • What connections do they share with the rep? 

Coach your reps to find a bridge and connect on a personal level. While many first calls are thought of as “fact-finding calls,” also consider them “bridge-building calls.”

#5 Large Age Difference

Your reps can’t change their age. But they can change their selling behavior. Remind younger reps to be sensitive to older clients. For instance, they can ask if they would prefer a Google Drive Sheet or Excel doc. Even the simple act of presumptively sending a Google doc can make someone who is accustomed to a more traditional way of doing things feel out of touch.

For older reps and younger customers, coach them to look at the relationship as an opportunity to really be enlightened by a youthful perspective. Coming across as a know-it-all with little patience for basic questions can turn off a potential customer.

There are undoubtedly many other irritants when it comes to stereotypical bad sales rep behavior. Take time to coach your reps on their selling behavior and selling judgment to avoid these issues and advance their skills.

Author: Dario Priolo

Dario brings over 20 years of experience in the sales enablement and talent development industry. He has led marketing and strategy as CMO for leading companies like the Hay Group, Miller Heiman and Profiles International and has been part of 4 successful exits, including his own start-up.


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