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Commission breath is the invisible stench that your prospects sense when you come across all pushy and desperate for a sale; they can smell it in person and they can smell it over the phone. They can even smell it over emails.

Do you have it? How do you know? And more importantly – how do you get rid of it?

What is it?

How do you feel when a double-glazing salesman knocks at the door uninvited? Or when the car salesman approaches at the car supermarket? Most of us feel dread at the thought of what’s to come; they will do anything to try to convince us to purchase from them. Their product/service may be the bees knees, or it might not be. It might be the best thing you ever could buy or it might be completely useless to you – they don’t care. But in business there are many who do care. They want their product/service to work for you, and yet, they still have commission breath.

It can occur during prospecting calls, sales meetings/calls or at networking events. It can show itself out in the wild at the shopping centre. It can even get you on holiday (read on for that one).

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms vary depending on the severity; pushy sales techniques that we all know and hate including trying to ‘close the sale’ every 5 minutes, knocking the price down at the first objection and then ‘overcoming’ every objection after that.

During a meeting, a sufferer will spend the whole time talking about how amazing they are. Or how fantastic their product or service is. They are waiting to respond to everything their prospect says with “lots of our clients felt the same before they joined us, but after we helped them they found…” like the sales training from the noughties taught them.

In bad cases, a sufferer will do the unthinkable and put down their competitor. Side note – this is never a good look. Everyone thinks you’re a prat if you do this.

In mild cases, a sufferer will pitch to their prospect before even hearing the prospects’ problems, or knowing whether they can solve them.

In all cases, a sufferer leaves their prospect feeling ‘sold to’. They just want to escape the call/meeting at all costs, and sometimes that means that they go ahead with the proposal. Oftentimes, they don’t.

Show me, show me:

Here’s some screenshots of some LinkedIn messages that I recently received from a new connection. Look at the time between messages! Look at the desperation! Had I have accepted the meeting, what are the chances that there would be ‘no hard sell’ or that they’d have just ‘left it with me’? Zero. And guess what? I actually looked up the company before the messages started and was keen to find out more. Instead, the connection was blocked and their commission breath directed elsewhere.

What’s the worst case of commission breath I’ve ever come across? Probably the insurance broker who told his clients that if they didn’t renew, he’d have to take his child out of his independent school and send him to state school. Or the tour guide on holiday who tried to shoe-horn us into a 4 hour coach trip on the worst roads (I use the word ‘roads’ loosely) we’d ever seen despite me being the world’s worst travel-sickness sufferer, because the trip got him his biggest commission. Or maybe it was the time I wanted to replace all of the windows in our house and when booking in a visit, the call handler asked if my husband would be home. Casual sexism aside (hello, the 18th Century called, they want their sales techniques back), this was clearly a ploy to push us into going ahead on the appointment date, rather than me having to talk it over with my husband. The commission breath stench was overpowering on this one!

We could all think of plenty of examples, some as subtle as the over-enthusiastic salesman in Curry’s when you were enjoying a browse and some as obvious as above. They all have one thing in common; the slightest whiff leaves the prospect uncomfortable, guarded and wanting to get out as soon as possible.

So what’s the cure?

The first step is admitting you have a problem. You’re going to have to consciously think about how you’re responding to your prospects on prospecting calls, at networking events and during sales meetings. Old habits die hard and to create new ones, you need to have a plan and then you need to do the tough part- execute the plan.

Listen to your prospect first of all. You need to be able to tell them how you can help them, but there’s a step before this; can you help them at all? Not every prospect is suited to your business and if people feel pressurised into buying from you, it’s likely the relationship won’t last long. Be comfortable with turning business away that doesn’t fit with yours.

Ensure the meeting is focused on the prospect, not on you. If you can help, great. If you can’t better their current provider/situation, stop trying to pretend that you can. Prospects will appreciate your honesty and if your proposal isn’t right for them right now, it doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future. So keep the door open for future opportunities and do the right thing.

Even if you’re facing a bad month and really need the sale, act like you don’t need the sale. Desperation suits no one – fact.

Do some training; here at Tilba Marketing, we deliver prospecting training where we can show you our techniques that are sure to make you sound different and in turn, build trust with your prospects. We’ve all has bad experiences with salesmen and this can cause prospects to put up walls as soon as they sense that you’re ‘prospecting’ them. We teach you tips and tricks to move beyond the wall and understand your prospects needs more deeply. When choosing a sales training provider, always listen to how they treat you and how they make you feel.

Ask lots of questions! And then LISTEN to the answers. Don’t just listen to respond; listen with interest.

Don’t send a message on LinkedIn with a sales pitch as soon as you connect with someone. Or ever. Just don’t do it unless you genuinely believe that you can help.

If you have commission breath, take action now; I guarantee you’ll sell more without that nasty stench around.

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