You're Not Being Helpful; You're Killing the Sale

BY Rachel Cagle
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You want to stand out as a sales rep, right? In a world where people in sales professions are seen as pushy, rude, and focused on money, you may try to stand out by being helpful to your prospects and clients. While this is a fantastic strategy and you should strive to meet your clients’ every need, there is such a thing as being too helpful. And that, according to Jay Fuchs, writing for HubSpot, is when being helpful can actually damage your chances of landing a sale.

Ways Sales Reps are Being too Helpful to Prospective Customers

Putting too Much Focused on Being Liked

Yes, in your industry, you and your competition are likely selling extremely similar products and services for around the same price. Yes, you have been told that the differentiating factor in these scenarios is your ability to sell yourself. No, that does not mean that your sole focus should be on developing a friendship with your prospective customer. You just need to focus on being someone that your prospect would be comfortable reaching out to if you end up working together. Few business relationships among sales reps and clients end up being legitimate friendships and that’s not what your prospect is looking for in your meeting, so don’t force it.

Reps that struggle with this point often get fixated on establishing a personal bond with prospects as opposed to showing why their offering suits those prospects' needs better than the competition,” says Fuchs, “In these cases, reps need to understand why they're selling in the first place and be mindful of the fact that they're engaging in a business transaction — one that's taking place during work hours. They need to prioritize the sale above how well they personally vibe with the prospect.” Of course, you still need to be friendly. Just remember that your sales goal isn’t to make friends. It’s to help your prospect achieve goals and solve problems. Aim for being helpful by focusing on these goals and problems, not friendship.

Responding too Much

Everyone is part of a group chat that has that one person who sends too many pointless messages and responds too often to the things other members say. Is that you when it comes to responding to your prospective clients? One of the most common ways that sales reps botch being helpful is by sending too many messages to their prospects. “They probably don't need (or want) you to hold their hand through the buying process like your kid at a crosswalk — and that goes double for having you constantly trying to push them along,” says Fuchs. “You need to be more calm, calculated, and rational with how you approach your outreach.”

Fuchs recommends accomplishing your messaging goals by being selective about what you send to your prospects. Will your message actually help the sale along? Is it in response to a direct question the prospect asked? How many messages have you sent to the prospect so far without getting a response from them yet? Take those questions into consideration when crafting your approach to being helpful via outreach.

Talking too Much

It’s your job to educate prospective buyers on your product or service. Especially during the first meeting or two, you want to focus on being helpful by giving the prospect all the information they need to make a purchasing decision that they are comfortable with. However, some sales reps tend to forget that these sales meetings are supposed to generate conversations, not monologues.

Sometimes, reps get a bit jumpy when conducting sales,” says Fuchs. “They might be too excited, overzealous, or flat-​out nervous and, in turn, become extremely talkative. In these cases, they might wind up dominating the conversation, overloading their prospects with information, and not letting whoever is on the other side of the pitch get a word in edgewise.”

Overloading your prospect with information means that they’ll have trouble differentiating the important facts from those you threw in to fill the silence. When you confuse the prospect by dominating the conversation, you’re not being helpful. Instead, you’re making them uncomfortable, and no one likes spending money when they’re uncomfortable. “Take a deep breath,” says Fuchs. “Let them air out their concerns, and respond accordingly. Embrace silence when necessary. Listen to them, and assure them that you're hearing what they have to say.”

Talking too Little

Now, some sales reps will take the previous advice too far and let the prospect dominate the conversation. This turn of events can be equally damaging to a sale. You’re the one with the information that the prospect needs. No matter how much research the prospect does on you, they’re still meeting with you instead of flat out making a purchase because they want to get more information from you. You may think you’re being helpful by letting your prospect run the meeting and ask all of their questions. What you’re really doing is denying them information that they might not think to ask about. And this information could be critical to the sale.

Let the meeting be a conversation where the prospect can ask all of their questions and you can communicate all the important information they need.