Ok, we are not talking here about the downright obvious. Clearly, threatening your client with an axe, laughing at his dress sense, yawning, falling asleep or eating enormous slices of oily pizzas are definite no-no's. They need no explanation - it is the subtler sub-conscious factors that are often the most telling. The behaviours I have outlined below can seem tiny, even trivial, but to the client it can mean the end of the sale before you even begin.
So let's start with 5 absolute don'ts - at the very beginning!
Don't be late!
This is so easily done. We are all pressured for time, running around like headless chickens and deadlines get missed. We comfort ourselves in the knowledge the client will probably just say "Oh, that's Ok..."
and you think "Phew, got out of that one". But you haven't.
Though he/she may not say it the client now feels less important to you. You appear sloppy and disorganised. Why should he listen to your opinion? You have shown a lack of respect for your client and they are probably feeling more than a little angry. Now you have got an even bigger mountain to climb in making that sale.
If you have a sales pitch, ensure you are there on time. Build in time in your diary when you make the appointment to cover all eventualities. Prioritise that meeting in your day - you can't be late.
Don't stop listening
This is a fundamental skill for any salesman. Hearing is paying attention to the sounds around you - listening is taking on board meaning and needs in order to determine how this will affect your overall goal. Apart from the research you will do before the pitch this is how you will get to know where your client is at - now. Too often when a client is talking the salesman is busy thinking about their next line of attack. How can you respond when you do not know where the need is?
Focus your sales pitch not only on a great presentation but also on how your prospective client is responding to you. Use what they say to create a strong business relationship and understanding.
Don't be intimidated by questions or confrontations
Your prospective client is bound to throw up questions and voice a contrary point of view to your own. If you are not expecting disagreement you will flounder when you try to respond. Just a small hesitation can re-sound on the Richter scale. Before you know it your whole case is beginning to look weak and your client is beginning to question why he should listen to anything you say.
Of course we cannot know everything a client is going to throw at us, but there are bound to be certain questions or negative statements which come up again and again. Consider going through your pitch with a colleague who is really going to give you a rough time. It can be a great learning curve! And remember - if you know your product well and believe in it - it's half the battle.
Don't sell before knowing your client's needs
If you are just going to rabbit on about the benefits of your product without considering how those benefits specifically affect your client, they may as well just tell them to go away with a brochure. You are there to show your client how your product is absolutely essential for their lifestyle or business. To do that you first of all need to have a detailed idea of what their requirements are.
Research your client before the pitch and get to know your client - before you even think about talking about your product.
Don't put yourself first
I see this so often and it really makes me cringe. The salesman tells the client that if they get an extra sale this month they will get a bonus. Going for the sympathy vote really is scraping the bottom of the barrel and you will only end up looking desperate. Again always be seen to be putting the clients needs first.