Are You A Helpful Seller or Too Much? Avoid These Common Mistakes

BY Jessica Helinski
Featured image for “Are You A Helpful Seller or Too Much? Avoid These Common Mistakes”

Are you being too helpful as a seller? It may come as a surprise, but in an effort to be a helpful seller, reps may actually be overdoing it. There is a fine line between offering valuable assistance and getting in your own way. 

Avoid these mistakes and still be a helpful seller

Sometimes, reps can be exceedingly helpful and friendly, and while that might be perfectly pleasant in theory, it can undermine their efforts and actually lead to worse outcomes for buyers in practice,” explains Casey Firenze for HubSpot

Sellers may not realize that some actions may not not come across as intended, or they may overdo it and become an annoyance. Buyers have a lot of information coming at them, and likely, other vendors vying for their attention. A helpful seller truly empowers their prospect instead of overwhelming them. And Firenze admits that reps need to find that balance to truly offer valuable assistance. 

She goes on to share mistakes that sellers should avoid to make sure they don’t cross that fine line. 

Being too responsive

While buyers highly value responsive vendors, they also need some breathing room. Offering guidance is advised, but you likely don’t need to guide them through everything. In an effort to be helpful, some sellers may become pushy, aggressive or even annoying. They constantly check-​in or ramble on about every detail without giving the prospect space to consider things on their own. 

Firenze suggests being more subtle. “Take a more prescriptive approach,” she writes. “That means not only teaching prospects what and how to buy, but also offering very concrete, selective guidance on which information actually matters based on what they’ve told you.” Keep track of how often you’ve engaged with the prospect and before doing so again, ask yourself if your outreach is offering anything of value. 

Wanting to be liked

Another way a helpful seller can come on too strong is seeking to be liked. Yes, it’s very important for a rep to be liked. SalesFuel’s research shows that for nearly 30% of buyers, being likable is a top attribute they want in a seller. But reps often get too caught up in trying to be likable. As J. Keenan notes for Harvard Business Review, "those who focus on [being likable] as a priority are destined to fail.”

Again, balance is key. Sellers should strive for a strong relationship with a prospect rather than a friendship. They can build their likability naturally by being trustworthy, empathetic and credible. And focus on how you can serve the buyer and demonstrate value. “Caring too much about being liked often makes you lose sight of why you're talking to your prospect in the first place,” Firenze explains. 

Dominating conversations

It’s common, in an effort to be a helpful seller, that a rep takes control of conversations. Whether it’s excitement or wanting to make sure a prospect understands, sellers can come to dominate conversations. This is actually a mistake, and sellers run the risk of upsetting a buyer. “You might think you're helping your prospect by offering your prospect a massive influx of information, preempting any potential objections you think they'll have, and rattling off every last bell and whistle your product or service has available,” she writes. “But in reality, you're probably frustrating and confusing them, or flat out losing their attention.”

SalesFuel shares some suggestions for being mindful about how much you’re talking versus listening. The advice can help you recognize when you’ve done too much of the talking and how you can train yourself to listen more and speak less. Doing so will actually be more helpful to the buyer because the more you listen, the more you learn, which leads to a more effective solution. 

It’s so easy to cross the line from being a helpful seller to one that undermines it all. Even the best efforts can be misguided, so be thoughtful with your interactions and keep these mistakes out of your process. You’ll find that by avoiding them and focusing on how to best serve the prospect, your efforts to help will be more effective and appreciated.

Photo by SHVETS Production