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Are You Over-Selling?

By over-selIing, I don't mean overbooking. That's what happens when you sell more than you have capacity to honor like airlines and hotels often do.

What I'm interested in talking about is whether or not you are overdoing it when it comes to selling.

That can happen because you're continuing on and on with your sales pitch even though the customer has already made a decision. Over-selling, even if it's done with good intentions, will usually do more harm than good. If you sell past the point at which the customer already decided to buy, you will soon be UN-selling.

Overselling also happens and is equally annoying to the customer when you are in sales mode and the customer needs for you to be thinking and acting differently. This may seem odd to a salesperson. You may think that your job is to always be selling. In fact, you may think it's your job to always be closing a sale.

But there are activities where you will better enable a sale by backing off from sales mode. Here's an example: you have a customer who is disappointed in what you've delivered. It's a service issue. Something about the end result was displeasing to the customer.

You have two alternative ways that you can proceed. You can back off of selling, engage with the customer to solve the problem, empathizing and servicing the needs that are present at this moment.

Alternately, you can go into hyper drive sales mode. In this mode, you will sell even harder than before. You'll be fueled by your adrenaline, anxious to make each and every point in your sales pitch more emphatically than you normally need to. You know that the sale is in jeopardy,so you sell all the harder to keep and enhance what you've already sold.

Therein lies the problem. The customer does not need to be or want to be sold anything at this point. Before they are ready to buy, they need to know that you can do more than selling something to them. They need to understand that you are there to service them, to help them, to meet all their needs… even the needs that don't directly put money in your pocket.

Recently, I was working with an individual who simply could not seem to get himself out of sales mode. He's been working with a top customer, and he has multiple contacts throughout that company. He only has one person he needs to sell to there, a single decision maker. Unfortunately, the work he should be doing with others is work he’s overlooking and even neglecting. He isn't marketing or promoting his own company well because his presence has become a bit obnoxious as a result of all the overselling that he does. The relationships that he should be forming in order to strengthen ties are being eroded instead of enhanced.

Do you ever find yourself in that sort of situation? If so, ask yourself these questions. What are the activities I do that are clearly sales activities? What are the activities I do (or should be doing) that are customer service activities? And which activities are purely for the purpose of relationship building? How about the ones that would be for educating yourself about your customer’s company or about the industry overall? If you are only and always in sales mode, you're missing a lot.
Whatever it is that you're missing, well, that's a gap. It's a gap in your relationship, in your experience, and in what you can offer to your customers. It may become an irreparable gap in trust. Some of those gaps can be extremely costly.

It's okay not to come across as a salesperson. It's okay not to be selling something every single time that you are with a customer. Here's why: all the other activities that you can do to serve a customer and form a relationship will ultimately help you in your sales work.

Pay attention for the next week or two. Which mode do you feel yourself slipping into when you are facing a customer? If it feels like you are almost always in sales mode, there may be room for some adjustment. Try it. Try putting yourself into a different state of mind. Try valuing time spent forming relationships, becoming more knowledgeable and serving the customer just for the sake of service. You might be surprised at how much this work will favorably impact your sales.  

The CONNECT2Sell Blog has been discontinued as our focus has shifted to leadership at every level. Research with buyers demonstrates that buyers respond favorably when sellers show up as leaders. If you'd like to step into your full potential as a leader (and boost sales!), take a look at our free and affordable courses on