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There is nothing as unattractive as sounding desperate. Desperation is a sure-fire way to kill any established rapport and chances of closing a deal. After all, who wants to buy from someone who is begging for the sale? With KPIs and revenue targets in mind, salespeople commonly push a little too hard when dealing with prospective clients. By urging the prospect to reconsider, answer your questions or explain why they’re no longer interested in doing business, you’re going to risk giving off a desperate energy. Below, we highlight six common signs of desperation you should avoid.

1. Assuming Too Much Interest Too Early

Have you ever received an email that just assumed too much interest off the bat? A common example is where the sales representative suggests a ‘catch-up’ (despite having had no prior interactions), or a ‘coffee date’ to ‘touch base’? This is quite presumptuous. After all, how could you know with certainty whether or not a prospect is valuable.

2. Pushing to Set a Time and Place to Meet

Standard responses to sales emails include things like “I don’t have time” or ‘This isn’t something we’re interested in’, and those with sales experience will calmly navigate these objections without much hesitation. A sales representative’s experience will usually assist them in distinguishing prospects that are genuinely disinterested from those that are perhaps unsure and need more convincing. One method for separating the wheat from the chaff is to ask the uncomfortable (though helpfully direct) question:

Are you hesitant to set time aside because you’re too busy, or have I not been able to communicate enough value for you to continue the conversation with me?

The prospect may respond with ‘I’m too busy’, suggesting that another time down the line may work better. Alternatively, they will explain why they’re not interested, which may indicate that they’re simply not a good fit (or your sales approach was not quite right). There is little use in ‘explaining’ or ‘reasoning’ why they’re wrong about the value your service will bring them. Instead, respect their decision not to try your service and remain professional and courteous.

3. Being Overly Eager to Solve Any Problems

Part of the sales process involves asking qualifying questions to determine the relevance of a product or service to a prospect. It’s excellent when their problem aligns with your solution, but it’s not always wise to instantly connect the dots – let them make the connection and instead give case study examples to help the prospect see the value in using your services.

Unfortunately, many salespeople struggle to hide their excitement and eagerness to get a prospect ‘across the line’, and will rush into explaining how they’re going to solve all their problems. It’s important to hold back the temptation to push for the sale, even when the opportunity presents itself early in the conversation.

4. Breaking Protocol

True desperation shows when you start to do things for prospects that you ‘don’t normally do’. It usually equates to the sales person adding benefits that they do not typically offer. The problem with such an approach is the unrealistic expectations that this client may have going forward. Remember, if they only signed up because of special conditions, they’re probably not going to be easy clients to deal with the second time around.

5. Making Demands or Statements of Terms (Followed by a Threat)

What could be more desperate sounding to a prospect than a salesperson presenting ultimatums? Things like: “if you don’t take the offer at this price, it will go back to the original price” or “I have another interested party, so if you’re interested, then we’ll have to move on this in the next day!”

It is unlikely that you will sway a client by threats of losing the opportunity, and ultimately, it shows a lack of flexibility and professionalism.

6. Sounding Unsure or Uncertain

Ever made a call and shuddered at the sound of your meek tone? When you lack confidence on a call, this person on the other line is likely to interpret this as a lack of confidence in whatever service or product you are pitching. No matter how much you need to meet your targets, it’s important that you treat every call with a calm and purposeful demeanour.

7. Bending Over Backwards

Your role as a salesperson is to be accommodating, not to meet every demand of a client. If a prospect makes requests that are way beyond what you would typically offer, the goal should be finding out why this particular point is important. Is it a deal breaker or are they simply seeing how far you will stretch?

For example, by allowing clients to cancel last minute, the message you will communicate is that your time is less important than theirs. Your time is limited. It’s important that whoever you are dealing with understands that your time is as valuable as theirs.

8. Being Unable to Let Go

On average, the overwhelming majority of your sales prospects will not convert into paying clients. It’s commonplace for prospects to ignore emails and calls. A good salesperson will catch the drift as early as possible and move on without investing more energy. Sending countless emails without receiving any response is like spamming. It isn’t persistence, it’s a refusal to accept that this particular prospect is not interested (or at least not enough to respond).

9. Discounting Early On

One of the clearest indications of desperation is when a sales person discounts their offering too soon in the piece. By offering a special price without the prospect even asking, the message the sales person presents is that they’re willing to do anything to get them on board. This message reflects poorly on you and your product or service by cheapening your offering. In turn, this indicates a lack of confidence.


Are there any other signs of desperation that you think we have missed? Let us know your thoughts on LegalVision’s Twitter.


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