5 Common Sales Techniques You Should Get Rid Of Immediately

By Jeff Shore 

​Alright, it’s time to rattle a few cages and ruffle a few feathers.

I’m a student of the sale. I hope you can say the same thing. As professionals, we should always be seeking to improve our craft, and that means we must regularly challenge long-held practices.

The techniques of decades past must be put on trial. If they pass the test for how to take care of people today, then by all means – keep on keepin’ on. But if they do not hold up to the level of professionalism that today’s customer requires, it’s time to put them down – permanently.

Before you read on, I beg you to do just one thing. When you disagree with me, please do so based on strategy, not on tradition. “I always use that line” is not a valid rebuttal. If you can defend the practice with a strategic approach, I’m all ears. But I have little interest in traditional techniques that are used for tradition’s sake.

Without further ado, it’s time to say farewell to these five common sales techniques.

1. What Brought You Out Today?

We hear this opening question in car dealerships, mattress stores, mortgage offices, open houses, and just about anywhere else where a customer walks into a selling environment. In fact, this might be the single most common question in all of sales-dom.

And I hate it. Passionately.

Why? Because there is only one way to determine if you are asking a strategically sound question. The evidence is in the response.

How do real customers answer that question?

Salesperson: “What brought you out today”?

Customer: “Well, we are really well-qualified and desperate, and we are hoping to buy something from you today and we really want to spend a lot of money – are you busy?”

If that is the response you are getting in your sales environment, then by all means continue.

Except you and I both know that is NOT what happens.

The reality:

Salesperson: “What brought you out today”?

Customer: “We’re just looking.”

If your strategic aim is to determine a customer’s buying motivation, this is not the right question. It’s time to put this to rest. Now. Yesterday.

2. Question the Question

Here’s an oldie but a goodie.

Customer: “Does this come with an extended warranty?”

Salesperson: “Is an extended warranty important to you?”

Customer: “Can I get this in blue?”

Salesperson: “Do you like blue”

Customer: “Why are you so obnoxious?

Salesperson: “Do you not like obnoxious salespeople?”

Here’s a newsflash: your customer isn’t stupid and they are certainly anything but patient when it comes to stupid sales techniques.

They asked a question. Answer it. If you want to serve, stop thinking about the way you want to sell. Start selling the way a customer wants to buy.

3. Are You in a Position to Buy Today?

Ah, the old premature trial close. Two minutes into the conversation and Mr. Commission-breath asks, “Assuming we find what you are looking for, are you in a position to purchase today?”

Here is what your customer just heard you say:

“I know you neither know me nor trust me, and I have done nothing to determine whether we have something you’re even mildly interested in, but I’m going to ask for your conditional commitment to purchase just the same.

This salesperson is asking a customer to make commitment based on a concept. It is no different than some slick dude at a bar walking up to a young lady and asking, “I know you don’t know me, but if things go well over the next hour will you commit to going home with me tonight?”

Seriously, is there any difference in those two scenarios?

Here’s an alternative strategy: EARN THE TRUST.

It’s time for Joe Slick to stop looking at his customer like a piece of meat. It’s time to retire this line.

4. Feel-Felt-Found

Now we’re getting touchy. Am I really going to take a stab at this most sacred cow?

Yep.

Here’s the scenario. A customer is considering buying a home that backs up to power lines. Obviously, the customer has some misgivings, which he presents to the salesperson. The conversation goes like this:

Customer: “I’m concerned about living so close to the power lines.”

Salesperson (fresh out of Feel-Felt-Found training): “I know how you feel. Others have felt the same way. And they found that…”

It doesn’t matter how the salesperson finishes the sentence; the conversation is in trouble with the words, “I know how you feel.”

The problem: the statement is usually not true.

There is a huge difference between sympathy (feeling for someone) and empathy (feeling with someone). When we say, “I know how you feel” it presumes that I have already lived that experience. This is typically not the case.

For evidence, consider the response of the cynical buyer (that would be me, by the way):

Customer: “I’m concerned about living so close to the power lines.”

Salesperson: “I know how you feel.”

Customer: “Do you? Do you really? Quick question: do you live against power lines? No? Have you ever? No? Hmmm… And yet you know how I feel. Interesting. One other question – do you get a commission if I agree to live against power lines? Thought so.”

May I make a simple suggestion. You don’t need part A. Let’s start calling this the “Felt-Found” technique and all will be well. That makes sense when you think about it, because the only opinion that really matters is that of the people who have actually written a check.

5. I’ve got someone else interested…

There is a great scene in the movie True Lies where Bill Pullman plays a slick and cheesy car salesman trying to sell a convertible to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The line is a classic: “I’ve got someone else on the line who is looking at this car but you know what – I like your style.” (You need to picture the wink and the first finger gunshot while the line is being delivered.)

There is a place for that line, and that place is in movies that spoof horrible salespeople.

At this point, your customer doesn’t even care if you are telling the truth. The line represents everything customers despise about manipulative salespeople.

We have lost all claim to that line, and I think that is a very good thing.

Did you disagree with me on these things? That’s fine – I think disagreement is a beautiful thing. But I remind you of one thing: disagree based on strategy, not tradition. “Because I’ve always asked the question” isn’t a strategic statement.

Here’s to the constant refinement of this wonderful thing we call the sales presentation.


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About the Author: Jeff Shore

Jeff Shore
Jeff Shore is a highly sought-after sales expert, speaker, author and consultant whose innovative and real-world selling strategies help you to change your mindset and change your world. His latest book, "The Keys to Unstoppable Sales Success: 8 Mindsets of Elite High-Achievement Salespeople" is now available. Learn more at jeffshore.com and follow Jeff on Facebook and LinkedIn.