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Practice Management > Building Your Business

10 sales behaviors that prospects hate

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“It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.” Mark Hunter

It doesn’t matter if you are a salesperson or not, we’ve all heard that little voice in the back of our heads that says, “Red flag … Run!” when faced with a salesperson who seems less than trustworthy.

Was it the tone of their voice, the way they dressed, their behavior or how they spoke that sent up the red flags? Whatever it was, there is nothing that salesperson can do to regain a prospect’s trust once it’s been lost.

If this often happens to you, maybe it is time to go through your presentation, your sales pitch, your cold calling script or whatever means of communication you’re putting out there to reach prospects. Examine it, and read it over as many times as possible. Send it to friends and family, and ask for their feedback.

You can also look at books about sales or do a quick online search to find tips.

We took this scenario to the Internet to find out what other salespeople are saying was the reason for not being able to close that sale.

In the following pages, we have compiled a short-list of things you might be doing that are repelling prospects. (Know a behavior that wasn’t included here? Leave it in the comments below.)

10. Overcomplicating the decision process

Sometimes salespeople are overly excited about their products or services, and while that’s amazing, you have to bring your pitch back to your prospect. What’s in it for them? How can you transfer that excitement to them so that it doesn’t seem suspect, fake or overrated? Are you just trying to impress them?

“More than once, when I was trying to be impressive about my methodology, I’ve overcomplicated the decision process and scared my hot prospect away,” says Jill Konrath, a frequent speaker at sales conferences and best-selling author, in her article “Close more deals by doing this.”

In that excitement to present the product or service, you forget that maybe your prospect doesn’t understand what you’re selling, or that in order to be impressive, you present too much information, thus making it overwhelming — or scary — for them.

9. Not respecting their time

You’ve heard the saying, “Time is money.” It’s true for you and for your prospects. So don’t be late to your appointments, don’t droll on during your calls, and be mindful of the time they will spend reading your emails.

Bottom line, just be mindful.

“Demonstrate that you respect prospects’ time by asking, ‘Is this still a good time to talk?’ or ‘We scheduled 60 minutes for today’s meeting. Does that still work for you?’ You can also achieve this by limiting the amount of time you spend on social chit-chat or rapport-building conversation (…) there’s a strong likelihood that your prospect wants to get down to business,” explains Kelley Robertson, an international sales speaker, author and trainer, in “5 surefire ways to earn a prospect’s trust.”

8. Failing to cultivate prospects

A great farmer always takes good care of his crops to have the best harvest possible. 

“If you assume that prospects aren’t smart enough to figure out the value your solutions can bring them or how your knowledge and experience can benefit them after talking to you for a few minutes or getting a letter in the mail, you shouldn’t bother trying to share your ideas and expertise with them,” says Ken Dooley in an article on, a news website that provides insights about marketing and the customer experience.

It’s the same thing with prospecting: You have to nurture your prospects, offer education and sometimes even coaching, to help them understand your value, expertise or products.

7. Talking or focusing only on yourself

This is a surefire way to alienate your prospect or anyone, really. It comes back to this magical question (from the prospect’s point of view): “What’s in it for me?”

“Prospects don’t care about you. They care about themselves. So stop worrying on trying to present yourself in the best light and instead just focus on them,” says Marc Wayshak, a sales strategist, author and creator of the Game Plan Selling System, in a video (watch below).

6. Failing to really connect with your prospects

In order to communicate effectively, you need to connect with people in a genuine way. Or as Brent Kelly, an insurance marketing expert, puts it: “To connect, you have to pour your heart and soul into the other person. And it starts with your attitude.”

5. Selling to make a sale, not to forge a relationship

You’re focused on the sale and only the sale, but forget that you will still need to communicate with the prospect, who is now a client, after the sale. Failing to see that can be catastrophic to your client list down the line.

“Poor salespeople focus on just closing the sale. Successful salespeople focus on closing the sale and the relationship.  Which is your approach?” asks Tim Conner, a writer for sales recruiting company SalesTrax.

4. Winging it

When you don’t prepare for a sales presentation or a meeting with a prospect, you are putting everything you have worked for — even your reputation — on the line. Not only are you wasting your prospect’s time with vague or generic presentations, you’re risking the sale and the client relationship.

“Inadequate preparation is using ‘canned’ or rote presentations that are so general they’re meaningless and emphasize the product or service without reference or relevance to the customer,” says John Graham, a marketing and sales strategy consultant and contributor.

So, you better get ready for your prospect meeting today.

3. Never asking questions

To get to know someone, you need to ask questions … and then listen. To get to the core of the prospect’s needs, and ability to buy, you need to ask even more questions.

What does your product or service solve for the prospect? Do they have a budget? What timeframe will they need to make a decision? These and other smarter questions will help you get to the bottom of the problem that you’re trying to solve for your prospect, according to, a business publication.

2. Dancing around the weakness of the product or service

Due to the enormous amount of information available through the Internet, prospects today are well-informed about products and services. They have researched your practice online and have tried to figure out what their needs are and what they need. That will also lead them to your product or services’ weaknesses.

Being upfront about the weaknesses will do two things, according to HubSpot, an inbound marketing solutions website:

  • “It allows the prospect to truly question if they have a need that can be solved with the product.

  • It positions you as a consultant rather than a salesperson. It opens the relationship up for the next conversation, whether it’s in their current role or a future role.”

1. Trying too hard

John Graham says that this is the number one reason why you’ve lost that sale:

“A salesperson can be so focused on making the sale that customers feel pushed to make a decision. Even though they may want to say yes, they say no instead as a way to escape.”


Let’s turn the spotlight now on the prospects. Has a prospect ever said one of the following statements?

1. We can’t tell people how much money we have budgeted for this.

2. We can’t say who else we’re working with/or if we’re working with someone else.

3. We can’t say the name of the decision marker (or who makes the decision).

4. All we’re concerned about is price.

5. We’ve decided to stay with our current provider.

According to the, a sales, marketing and management website, there are ways that you can counter any of these statements and get your sale back on track. For example, not accepting the prospect’s words as the truth, not pushing back, or simply giving up and giving in to rejection, they point out are some of the common reactions of undeveloped salespeople.  

 See also:

The 2 ways you lose deals

7 ways to create credibility and establish trust with prospects

The 5 best ways to earn client trust

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