If you’ve spent any time on the networking scene, you have most likely tried to pitch your products and/or services to someone and vice versa. So, you’ll know what we mean when we say, “Don’t be a sales douche.” (hereby referred to as “SD”). Although this rule should be a standard in everyday discourse, it is especially important in a sales setting. Times are changing, the idea of corporate culture has evolved, and if you don’t get hip, you besta get out.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “hmmm… am I a sales douche?”, chances are you could be. However, that kind of introspection often times is indicative of interpersonal intelligence, one of the major things lacking in most SDs. SD’s come in many different forms; they can be a female energy healer, an older gentleman, who sells commercial real estate, or they could be a young kid selling insurance. The point I am trying to make is, anyone can be guilty of being a SD regardless of age, race, gender, or occupation.
It’s hard to categorize what exactly being a sales douche means. No really, it’s completely situational, and a lot of it depends on your delivery. You can hustle hard and be a phenomenal networker and connector and not be a sales douche. That said, too strong and aggressive of a game can come off as slick and untrustworthy. Life is about balance. Most SD’s have issues in two or more of the following categories: appearance, communication, effort, and attitude. Basically, they lack style. If only there was a place to get it.
How one presents themselves is attractively, depends on the situation that is at hand. That being said, a lot of business environments do encourage traditional dress wear, however, it is becoming more common for professionals to opt for more casual forms of dress. In reality, you should be dressing to appeal to the needs of your audience. If you are the only one in a suit with cufflinks, you might be a SD. If you are seen wearing a suit everyday it gets a little suspicious. Take it from me, no one wants to be in dress clothes ALL day. These actions develop an idea of inauthenticity in potential connection’s minds.
Instead, go with a sport coat or blazer paired with a more casual pant. This will still give you the “put together” look without making you look like you tried too hard. Unless you are networking with accountants, corporate lawyers, or just plain ole stuck up people, no one cares if you aren’t in a suit and you will become more approachable.
There are times in which you do have to wear a suit, but you don’t have to look like a stuffy member of the “Good ole boys” club. Ditch the traditional power tie and go with a modern-width wool tie and start a conversation. Or you can ditch the tie all together!
The way you talk to people is important. The way you listen is even more critical. For example, if you get coffee with a new contact and all you do is pitch your business and don’t really listen to them, you might be a SD. With individualism on the rise and millennial’s becoming the dominant buying and decision makers, the “hard” sales pitch is dead. Pressuring people isn’t cool at all, and no one wants to sit through being asked for connections and money from someone that is basically begging at their feet.
Think of sales communication like dating, most people don’t want to jump into a relationship without some sort of get-to-know you process. It is no different then how you should interact with your prospects. People want to buy things from their friends, or at least someone that they think they can trust. Sitting down to coffee with someone and just firing off questions, doesn’t work, you have to have a conversation, find common ground, and build their trust. Think of the close as “sealing the deal”. While that can sometimes happen after the first date, it doesn’t happen if there is no chemistry.
Just as online technology has changed dating, it’s changing the sales communications process. Now people can get to know everything about you before they meet with you; the same concept applies to your company. Which is why you should make sure you authentically represent your brand across all networking and marketing channels. Because nothing is worse than a Catfish.
Efforts & Attitude
These two aspects go hand and hand. The effort you put in is important, and nothing good will ever come without a little hard work. However, following up with someone everyday is not effective and will most likely annoy them. On the flip-side, acting like you are too important and only able to “fit people in” won’t win you very many deals. The same goes for changing the time of a meeting multiple because “something came up”.
Efforts are tricky; sales is the ultimate balancing act. Having the ability to ignite a fire under your prospect while not annoying them can be hard. Research says that it takes 5-7 “touches” for someone to say “yes” or give you a final no. However, if all those touches come in one week, then you look thirsty. Think back to our dating metaphor, if you met this awesome person, got their number, and started texting them everyday they might think that you’re a little clingy and scare them off. The way to go is to keep your touches spread out over time and having a variety of different messaging is key. If you are always asking a prospect when they are going to be ready, they never will be.
Additionally, once you have made it to the top sales position, there tends to be this holier-than-thou mentality. That has got to stop. Once you start thinking a deal or prospect isn’t worth your time because they aren’t big enough, you’ve officially become a sales douche. Unless you are a manager and have job duties other than producing new business, every deal matters. Even if you you’re “just trying to prioritize”, it comes off as rude and well, kinda douchey.
Overwhelming amount of inauthenticity
Like I said earlier, just because you do one of the above doesn’t automatically make you a sales douche. When you add several of these together it fosters an idea of inauthenticity in the minds of your customers. However, it is possible to have all these qualities and not be a SD if you balance it with other positive actions.
In fact there are a lot of people who act like SD’s and it’s totally authentic to their personality, but they are also active in their community and support important causes spritfully, with the same demeanor as an SD. At that point, it is more so a personality trait, and therefore people tend to look past it because the inauthenticity doesn’t register with them.
For some reason, SDs tends to be concentrated in a few groups. We’re not saying that everyone in these positions are douchebags, but many tend to be:
- Insurance/ Financial services sales agents: This is true with any essential services, because they have been around for decades, and change is slow. It’s natural for sales people and companies to take a classic approach to client acquisition, which is often aggressive. Often times, these companies have a suit only dress code, so you can’t hold that against them. But if I sit through another financial planning presentation, and get begged for contact information for my friends, I won’t be a happy camper.
- Business Coaches: Sorry, not sorry, but this is not a joke. Don’t get me wrong, I know business coaches that are great people and their clients love them, but personally, I’m wary of business coaches. I get that you can “make me more productive” but that’s why I have Trello. Plus, you telling me that I suck and need your help is not a good look. Thank you, next.
- Health and Wellness Folk: People who are stylists, sale beauty products, things like itWorks etc, tend to be SDs as well. While they may not look like your typical douche, there is nothing cool about someone that I haven’t talked to since high school begging me to try their fat burning pill… like, did you just call me fat?
- Entrepreneurs: We get it, you are excited about your product. You love talking about it. But if that’s all you do, you won’t get far. Business is built on collaborations. Being able to listen, hear other people’s stories, and help them is just as important as having your story heard. Plus, if I have to listen to another cousin’s crazy business idea, I’ll freak.
Hopefully by now, you’ve determined if you are a sales douchebag. If you are, good news, we can help! If you aren’t, keep it up. In the end, it’s about having the interpersonal knowledge to stop talking when you should.