Customer service is no easy task. When you’re navigating the field of human emotions, you need to be very careful about not just what you say but how you say it. And there are certain statements that no salesperson should ever make while speaking to a customer.
1. You’re wrong
Any variation of telling the customer that they are wrong, misinformed, or don’t know what they’re saying is a major no-no. As the salesperson, it is your job to convince the customer to trust your expertise. However, at no point can you haggle, coerce, or force them into making a purchase.
And if you have to do that, you are not only doing your job wrong; you’re stepping into dangerous moral territory. No matter how much you disagree with the client, you can only make suggestions. The ultimate decision is theirs because it’s their money. The best you can do is try and come up with creative solutions.
2. Sorry, you caught me off guard
If you are a salesperson, you know there are times when you’re not prepared to take a call. Maybe you’re on your lunch break, or you didn’t have time to look into the details the day before. No matter your reason, there is no justification for telling the customer you are unprepared. A friendly suggestion: don’t even joke about it.
As a salesperson, it is your job to come across as confident and knowledgeable at all times. If the client doesn’t think you’re committed to their account, they won’t trust you with their money. Sometimes salespeople develop a natural rapport with customers and forget to maintain the level of professionalism needed.
Remember that ease of conversation is for the client and is no excuse to be off your game. If you aren’t prepared, redirect and reschedule. And if you think you can get away with speaking off the top of your head, present with your most confident foot forward.
3. I need this
All salespeople have targets to meet. Every deal is important, and if it’s the end of a quarter closing the deal can have a significant impact on your income and bonuses. But this is no excuse to ever let the customer know you’re desperate. Firstly, it isn’t their problem. The client isn’t responsible for your sales rate, and it’s unfair of you to push that onto them. In most cases, they won’t care.
Secondly, you will lose their trust. Once they know you have ulterior motives, they won’t trust your advice. As a salesperson, the client needs to know you have their best interests at heart. Now you’re at a disadvantage where your comment may have lowered your chances of making a sale.
And finally, you’ve given the customer the upper hand in all further negotiations. They may even take it as an opportunity to backtrack on all the progress you’ve made in the previous weeks.
4. Touching base
If there’s one overused phrase in the sales world, it is “just touching base.” Another similar statement is, “I’m just checking in.” No customer wants to hear this because it means you’re wasting their time for no reason. Every call needs to have a solid reason that makes your client feel like you’re working tirelessly to get them what they need.
So make sure you start the call by laying out the purpose first with statements like “I want to follow up on our last conversation with…” or “Here are a few solutions I’ve come up with based on the questions you had.” At no point should a customer feel like your communication with them, whether a meeting or a phone call, is just you checking a task off a list. Even if it is a part of your sales process, it should never appear that way. So try and avoid this phrase at all costs.
5. Can I have a few minutes of your time?
Here is another overused phrase that immediately puts customers off. As soon as you utter these words, the prospective customer becomes defensive. They’re on guard because they’re expecting a practiced, impersonal sales pitch. And unless your initial pitch has game-changing material, you’re starting on a negative note.
6. Can you tell me a little about your company?
An equally terrible start, this question makes you appear incompetent right out the gate. As a salesperson, it is your job to do the groundwork before you contact the client. No one wants to hear a generic sales pitch. And without research, that’s all you have, recycled jargon. Sites like Callingly can help you organize leads and manage calls.
A solid approach to a potential client is with a statement like “Our firm assists companies like yours with XYZ, and I have a few questions that will help me identify whether we are the right fit for you.” Here you’ve led with your strongest qualities, show that you’ve done your research, and made your pitch personalized.
7. Do you make the decisions?
Never ask your contact whether they have the ultimate decision-making authority. Now you’ve put them in an awkward spot. Clients can’t give you insight into company business. If they don’t have the authority to approve sales, you’ve burned your only bridge. Instead, ask who weighs into decisions like this and whether you should schedule a meeting with the entire team.
8. Is this within your budget?
Ideally, your research should give you a fair idea of what a client can afford. So this question makes you sound uninformed. Additionally, you risk offending a potential client by assuming they are hitting above their weight. In the sales business, you never want to go in blind. Cover all your bases before you go in and don’t rely on the client to give you new information.
9. I hear that often
No customer wants to feel like their problems are the same as everyone else’s. If you make your client feel like they’re one of many on a roster, you’ve failed at your job. Customers need to feel like their problems are unique. If you’re looking to inspire confidence, you can always tell them that you’ve helped people in similar circumstances and have a lot of ideas on how to turn things around.
10. I’ll email you the information
That email is going straight into the spam folder and will never see the light of day. Giving examples, telling stories, and relaying information in a personal and engaging manner is the only way to make a sale.