How Not To Do Sales

Hardcore sales guy

I just experienced a perfect example of how not to do sales. Someone I met at a networking event followed up with me by leaving a voicemail message marked urgent. He said he wanted to talk. Didn’t say why he was calling but wanted me to call him right away. I smelled a hardcore sales call. However, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was calling to talk about hiring my as a consultant or to build a relationship.

I called him back, got his voice mail and left a message saying I was returning his call. When he called back he introduced himself, mentioned he thought my business was interesting and then went for the sale. While talking he used my name about 3 times. “Arden blah, blah, blah, Arden, blah, blah, blah, Arden, more blah blah.” All the while I’m thinking the technique of using someone’s name as many times as possible in a conversation was some out of touch sales consultant’s idea of a way to bond with your target. Yes target as that’s how I felt. “Ready, aim, fire. Got you! You’re mine now!!!” Ugh!!!

Anyway, he then proceeded to say he wasn’t calling about his business but another side business and was I interested in adding another money making business to my business. I politely said no, I wasn’t. He then said “OK, have a good day.” And hung up. Well, on the one hand I was happy he didn’t try to push, but on the other I thought, wow, I was just a possible sale to him. He had no interest in me or my business. None. It was all about what I could do for him.

So, let’s learn from Mr. Hardcore Sales Guy. First, unless it’s my husband calling to say he was in an accident, NEVER mark a message urgent. There was nothing urgent about his call. Maybe he’s urgently trying to make money, but that’s not really my problem.

Second, networking is all about building relationships. You will have little luck making a sale to someone who doesn’t know you. Saying one nice thing to a prospect on the phone does not count as building relationships. People do business and recommend others that they like; therefore approach networking as a way to make friends, not a sale. Dale Carnegie said “You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in other people then you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Mr. Hardcore Sales Guy could have called me to introduce himself and shown an interest in what I offer, ask me how long I’ve been going to Chamber events, offer help or resources. He could have emailed me a link to an etiquette article or offer a list of other networking organizations; anything that was showing an interest in me and in helping me. I would have been much more interested in learning about him and his business and then making referrals to him.

Third, saying someone’s name several times in a conversation sounds insincere and like you’re trying to force a relationship. Sure, I like it when people say my name, but not multiple times in a conversation. Be sincere. Ask people about themselves to build relationships. Don’t force it.

Fourth, when you don’t get the sale don’t abruptly give up on the relationship. When Mr. Hardcore Sales Guy so abruptly got off the phone after I said no, I felt a bit used. I know it’s hard to hear “no”, but the most successful sales people say something nice and keep the door open. Even, saying, “Well, thank you for your time. It was nice talking with you and I hope to see you at another Chamber event. If you’d like I would be happy to introduce you to some people if you’re planning on attending the X event.” What a difference that would have made in my impressions of him.

Sales done well is an art. A good sales person is not a sales person; rather s/he is a person who makes friends who then decide to do business with them. Let’s not be Mr. or Ms. Hardcore Sales Guy/Gal. Let’s be a friend to our clients and prospective clients.

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. David Emerson on November 11, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Arden – This is a great story and something we have all experienced. A valuable lesson, thanks for sharing. Hope you are well.


  2. Daniel Garigan on November 13, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Hello there!! well maybe I would like to say I am a sales person.. but as you say “Sales Done” is a fine art. I am a bit of an academic but learned early on that the art is not selling but “persuasion” From the scholar’s point of view (given that the domain of knowledge extends a millinium or two ((millinia?.. seem to forgetting my Latin)), the Art of Persuasion is to use the “audience” (AKA Customer) beliefs and concerns as the major premise of you “presentation” (AKA Sales Pitch) It is an Art and Skill and takes a change of position from your point of view to .. their point of vies. The agenda is to establish the “Enthymeme” (somewhat similar to the Syllogism in Logic) such that the major premise of your presentation (AKA “Argument”) are views and beliefs that are held dear. When this is done.. the “Customer” AKA “Audience” experince the most human of inclinations… to agree with you. The skill is to have an obvious solution.. to go along with you (AKA Salesmen) to see what they have not seen as they have been occupied (AKA “worried” elsewhere). Failure gets the grade “F” all else stay in the game.. get around go, or take the prize… oh yes… always be a nice person… it goes a long way. Happy sales.. it is better for everyone. All the best… Daniel from a land far away.

  3. Carrie of Bella Cupcake Couture on November 19, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    What a great story to share and well written. Hopefully Mr. Hardcore will read this and realize the error of his ways in the future.

    Thanks for sharing. Carrie

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