Broken promises & bagging the competition

Nothing irks customers more than a salesperson bagging the other guy, or not delivering on promises.

Watching the antics of all the parties in the federal election, especially the two major parties, and how they went about trying to convince the electorate to vote for them, has reminded me about what not to do in sales. Don’t:

  • Make promises you cannot keep.
  • Bag the competition.

Nothing irks customers more than sales people overstating their capabilities and making claims and promises they cannot keep or live up to. It the fastest way to break trust and leave customers doubting you and your business.

Making grand claims with little or no substance is foolish at best. In today’s networked world, many people have access to information and can check pretty quickly whether what you claim is true or not.

So can you do what you claim you do?

The other thing that can drive customers away from you is making derogatory comments about your competition. If your prospective customer has been using your competitor before you came along and was really happy with them, and you start bagging that competition, what you are essentially doing is bagging the customer’s decision to use them in the first place.

Not a good strategy to set up a basis for an ongoing relationship. Find out who they have used first before you open your mouth and watch what you say. No one likes to feel pathetic because they made a poor decision or haven’t kept up with the latest trend, or have their decision laughed at by an arrogant “I know better than you” smarty-pants sales person. Be very careful in how you position yourself and your offerings.

My advice:

  • Know your competitive advantage and how legitimately it compares to your competitors.
  • Know how to present it in a manner that is respectful and non-judgemental.
  • Know how you can help people genuinely, with real substance and how you can demonstrate that to your customers.

That is why it is sadly amusing to watch the political parties trying to convince us of their merit and bribe us with their promises just so we will vote for them. All the while they behave like bullies beating each other up in the process. It all seems so primitive really. I had hoped we had come farther than this.

I do live in hope though. So maybe one day we will be pleasantly surprised that they will speak to us like adults, behave like adults and make decisions like adults with the interest of all of us at heart. Good sales people do this everyday.

All this reminds me of a saying: “A politician thinks of only the next election. A statesman thinks of the next generation.” Some food for thought.

Sue Barrett is Managing Director of BARRETT Pty Ltd. Sue is an experienced consultant and trained coach and facilitator. Sue and her team are best known for their work in creating High Performing Sales Teams. Key to their success is working with the whole person and integrating emotional intelligence, skill, knowledge, behaviour, process and strategy via effective training and coaching programs. For more information please go to


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