By Clive Price

Salespeople are too NICE

Today I am going to hammer home the fact that salespeople are too nice, too polite, too accommodating and consequently do not close enough deals that are ripe for the plucking.

The name ‘Sales Person’ is a misnomer and not descriptive of the role we should be playing.  We are a lot more than that and need to understand the economy and how it is affecting our customer. We must be familiar with their Market Sector, their Competition, their Business Plans and Marketing Strategies. And at times, we need to be a ‘shrink’ and a shoulder to cry on.

Today’s Buyers are tough and uncompromising.  We invest time and money learning about effective Sales Techniques and very little time in understanding the Buyers selection process.  What turns them on, what makes them tick, are they in the evaluation stage and shopping around or are they ready to buy? We avoid asking them, that’s not polite!

STOP BEING SO NICE and accommodating.

Don't be so polite!On a different note, many Buyers are misleadingly seductive and say things like:

  1. We are looking for a large quantity of your products…
  2. If you can beat  this deadline you are likely to get the order…
  3. That sounds great. Do put it into a proposal please. And…
  4. Wow, your product has all the features we need…

Beware, the Buyer is seducing you with these exaggerations and promises and trying to lure you into offering discounts or more favourable terms.  Additionally, they are fishing for information. Will they pay you for this information or for your insights and knowledge?  Of course not and a sure sign of this is when your sales conversation is over and they come up with “Sounds good, let me think it over (TIO)”.

As we have been brought up to be polite and courteous what do we say, “Of course, that’s fine” and because hope springs eternal in salespeople’s hearts we think, “This deal is in the bag. The prospect just wants to give it some thought”.  Salespeople buy this one hook, line, and sinker every time. Yet research shows that less than 20% of the “TIO’s” ever turn into business.  Usually it’s because we haven’t found any ‘pain’. We have not drilled down to find real gaps, opportunities or real reasons for the buyer to change. We have lost control of the conversation and have not asked the provocative questions that need to be asked.


Sometimes the “think it over” is usually a slow “no”. Remove it as an option early on with your Meeting Agreement by saying something courageous like,  “When we get to the end of our meeting today if you’re not totally comfortable with moving forward, it’s OK to tell me ‘no’. Is that ok?”

Better to get the “no” early on, and stop wasting your time chasing the TIO’s.

STOP BEING SO NICE; rather be ruthless with fence-sitters.

Buyers respect salespeople who are challenging and get them to think and consider the consequences of inaction. We need to fish for the NO which goes against the grain of all the training we have received. After all we have been taught to collect the yeses and not search for negatives.

But consider this: if the Buyer is seeing dozens of sales reps like you, of course they will play this role. The challenge is how do you differentiate yourself from the masses? How do you stand out from the crowd?

NOT BY BEING SO NICE, that’s for sure

Let’s don’t underestimate the amount of ‘homework’ we are required to do as Business Consultants. In depth research on our side is an imperative. To acquire the position of a trusted confidante means asking the tough questions like:

  1. Is the problem compelling enough for you to take a good, hard look at a solution, assuming one were available?
  2. Are adequate resources available to implement a solution, assuming you found one that you felt would work?
  3. Assuming you’re sure that our solutions will fix these problems for you, what would happen at this point?
  4. It appears that this issue is a major priority at the moment. Am I reading the situation correctly or have I missed something?
  5. That problem sounds like it’s creating quite a problem for you. How important is it to you that we fix it?

We should also be racking our brains about what ideas we can bring to the table that the Buyer/Owner has not considered and what Value we deliver over and above the expected.

This is NOT ABOUT BEING NICE but rather being a professional.

If you think about it, these are the kinds of questions the Buyer should be asking him/herself. Often they are not doing this; it’s easier to continue with the status quo rather than worry about the business.

It is our job to ask these tough and Courageous Questions and is the very essence of making sales.

To assist you formulate your questions follow this format:

Tip for great Sales Questions

The solution is simple. Do your research well, ask the courageous questions to find REAL PAINS, point out the financial implications of not going ahead with your solutions, be provocative and above all be a Business Person.


About the Author:

CEO of The Peer GroupClive Price is CEO of The Peer Group and a leading South African consultant in human resource management. If you want to increase your company’s sales figures or help your salespeople find New Business, Clive is your go to man. With 21 years in the business of sales training and helping companies improve their market share, Clive has been there and DONE IT.  Contact us to get in touch with Clive.