What selling techniques should you avoid? Lying to get a response, tricking prospects into a conversation, and being overly enthusiastic. If you’re using these techniques, try implementing these alternative suggestions instead. Selling is about creating a relationship based on trust.

Recently, the CEO of a company reached out to me via email. He was good at capturing my attention and piqued my interest to want to learn more. However, things went downhill fairly quickly when he couldn’t answer my questions. Here’s how the conversation went. (I removed the actual names and companies mentioned.)

Hi Darryl,

I should probably explain why I’m in your inbox. I saw your company engage with one of our competitors, a few days ago.

In case you are wondering – our platform, XYZ, actually did the hard work for me.

Much like how I found you, I can show some key accounts that have been engaging with your competitors/industry topics.

Would you be up for a quick chat? Here is a link to my schedule for the next few days – let me know and I will send you an invite.

Have a fantastic day,
Guy’s Name

P.S. I know you’re busy. But a 20-minute call could save you A LOT of time in the future.

Co-Founder, CEO
XYZ Company

Which competitor?

We were tracking competitors like ABC, LMNO-P, TUV.

Let me know if you’d like to learn more.

Guy’s Name

But you told me “…I saw your company engage with one of our competitors, a few days ago…”

So, which competitor did my company engage with according to your intelligence?


Apologies – XYZ suggested Vanillasoft, because of us tracking QRS company.

But VanillaSoft doesn’t use QRS company.

You see where I’m going with this? You used a line to get my attention yet your line misrepresented the truth. How can I partner with somebody that starts a potential business relationship off with a lie? How can I trust XYZ company if you yourself misrepresent its abilities; after all, you told me ZYX advised you that I had engaged with a competitor.


Silence…never to be heard from again…

I know — being in sales is challenging. However, just because selling can be a challenge, it doesn’t mean you are allowed to cut corners or be disingenuous to get buyers to engage with you. Top performing sales reps don’t participate in techniques that will jeopardize potential relationships.

Tricks and less-than-honest tactics aren’t how you want your sales team to interact with buyers. Customers want a more personal and honest exchange in the sales process, and they have done their homework to sniff out BS (bad salesmanship) when it happens.

Send a clear message to your SDRs about how you want them to approach customers and what selling techniques to avoid. Ethical selling gives your customers the opportunity to evaluate fairly whether or not your company will benefit them. A transparent approach to sales can protect your company’s reputation and attract more buyers.
Techniques to Avoid in Sales

#1 Lying to Get a Response

I think we all saw this one coming! Good salespeople are great at building relationships with their prospects and customers. So you guessed it; lying is not the right way to start off the relationship. There are better ways to get your prospects attention. Here are some suggestions.

Provide Case Studies – Your SDRs need to focus on helping the prospective buyer understand how your company can help them by sharing a case study from another company in the same industry. Email potential customers evidence that your product or service works and how it can improve their bottom line to grab their attention. According to Aberdeen Group, personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%. So, offer them content that speaks to them and their industry.

Talk About Their Competitors – SDRs can mention they noticed a prospect’s competition is doing XYZ or working with company A. Savvy sales reps use this information to lead the conversation to how your company can help the prospect achieve the same or better results. However, do your research to ensure what you share is accurate.

#2 Tricking Prospects Into a Conversation

This point primarily speaks to cold calling and the techniques that give cold calling a bad name. Many sales reps will make cold calls and start conversations without providing much information about themselves. Instead, they try to draw details out of the prospect about what the company does in a way that could make the listener think, “oh, this is a potential customer for MY business.”

Once the cold caller has gotten the prospect talking — and gotten the person’s hopes up — the cold caller goes in for the sale. This approach does not build trust. The person feels like you’ve just sucker punched them in the face. Let’s talk through some other ways of engaging prospects on cold calls instead.

Provide Information Upfront – When your team is cold calling, remind them not to fall back on trickery. From the beginning, SDRs should introduce themselves and explain what company they’re with and why they’re calling.

The best SDRs will do a little research to help warm up the conversation and help them lead to questions that reveal more information to qualify the lead. This type of exploratory conversation also exposes specific pain points, which is important since 70% of purchasing decisions are made to solve a particular problem.

When you have a transparent and open approach with prospects, you will be less likely to burn bridges. That can be a good thing later on when the prospect is looking to buy.

Don’t Focus on Your Product/Service – Prospects don’t really care about your product/service. They care about whether or not your product/service can help them solve their problems. SDRs need to ask questions to discover a person or company’s primary source of frustrations so that the rep can present a solution for addressing those problems. According to Gong, diving into 3 – 4 buyer problems correlates with the highest likelihood of advancing the deal to a firm next step.

Give your sales reps pointers on how to approach initial contact conversations. Encourage them to be upfront when making calls and to focus on the prospect, not the product. Help them to know what questions they should be asking to get to the heart of the prospect’s issues.

#3 Being Overly Enthusiastic

Let’s face it…we’ve all faked our way through a conversation at one point or another. Prospects can recognize over-the-top, “super excited” salespeople. That level of overzealousness makes salespeople seem inauthentic, and it can create a sense of distrust.

If you have a rep or two who wholeheartedly and genuinely LOVE the product or service you sell, that’s great. I’m not saying it is a bad thing at all. Just encourage your reps to think about how potential customers may perceive their enthusiasm. Tell them to think about it this way — in the prospects’ minds, a salesperson’s primary aim is to take their money. So people already have their guards up when it comes to dealing with salespeople. Help your biggest fans in the sales department work on ways to relay their enthusiasm without coming across as distrustful.

Keep it Calm – Encourage your reps to use low, calm tones when talking with prospective buyers. Reps should attempt to discover what’s happening in the potential customer’s life or business (depending on what you sell) and look for opportunities where your brand can help meet the prospect’s needs. When reps remain collected and listen, they can offer up solutions that will resonate with the contact. As opportunities become clear, reps can adjust their tone and attitude to higher levels of enthusiasm or excitement.

Enthusiasm in sales isn’t a bad thing. The key is getting your sales reps to a point where they understand the difference in being seen as authentic instead of fake. Guide them on their sales approach to help them gain the trust of the buyer.

“If people like you, they will listen to you. But if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” ~ Zig Ziglar

If your sales team is engaging in techniques like our friend from company XYZ, stop it now. Your buyers are smart. They can see when a sales rep is only focused on the sale. Coach your SDRs on how to develop solid relationships during the sales process, and you will start to see your sales turn around.

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