I’ll let you in on a little secret: I hate being sold to. I don’t take sales calls, I walk past people who pitch to me in the street without even acknowledging their existence and I delete unexpected emails without opening them. Yep – I’m your sales team’s worst nightmare.

I’m one of those people who likes to make up his own mind about a product or service. I do my own research and hate to be hurried (although I’ve also been known to make very quick decisions if the right information is at hand). By the time I’ve engaged with a sales professional, I’ve probably already decided that I’m going to make the purchase. Even then, poorly equipped salespeople often continue with their scripted pitches and very often talk their way out of a deal.

So how do you sell to a grumpy prospect like me?

4 Things Not to Do

  1. Try to Trick Me: Business relationships are built on trust, so never attempt to start a relationship on a lie. Email subject lines are a particular bugbear of mine. I’m not so stupid to believe we’ve already entered into a conversation just because your email subject line starts with “re:,” suggesting you’re replying to a previous email I’ve sent. Also, any sales pitch that starts with the phrase “Don’t worry, I’m not trying to sell you anything” is going to be terminated swiftly.
  2. Pretend to Be My Friend: Don’t call me buddy, pal or mate if we’ve never met before. Over familiarity breeds contempt and doesn’t bode well for a future professional relationship. I’m not suggesting you cannot be friendly (in fact, I welcome that) when we first meet, but I do insist that you treat me with the respect a potential customer deserves.
  3. Keep Me Waiting: When I’ve decided to buy, I want someone to provide the goods or services on offer and take my money in a professional and prompt manner. Failure to pick up the phone or reply to an email in a timely manner will result in me speaking to a competitor. Similarly, how many great restaurant experiences have been ruined by tardy service when it comes to paying the check? I’ve been known to walk after 15 minutes. Show me you care about my business, or I won’t care about yours.
  4. Push Me to Make a Decision: The moment you drop your price to force a sale before the end of the month/quarter/year is the moment you completely devalue your product or service. Even if I decide to delay my purchase beyond your bonus cycle, you’ll never persuade me to pay full price again.

6 Things That Get Me Buying

  1. Expertise: I like to buy from people who know what they are talking about. In fact, if I can trust that the person helping me to make a buying decision is an expert and is “selling” me the right solution for my needs, I’ll be happy to pay a premium.
  2. Openness: Don’t try to hide your industry knowledge behind “smoke and mirrors” or a “secret sauce” recipe. The more you tell me via your blog, social media activity, email marketing campaigns and other marketing collateral, the more I will trust that you know what you are doing, and the better your opportunity of winning my business. Sure, there might be people who take your knowledge to do the job themselves – but were they ever likely to become clients? Probably not.
  3. Personal Service: Remember, people buy from people they like and trust. Put your people at the front of your organization and never hide behind a corporate logo.
  4. Careful Targeting: I like organizations that send me targeted campaigns based on my previous engagements and interests. It makes me much more likely to stay engaged and follow through with a purchase (and quite possibly a repeat purchase). The moment you go off-piste and try to sell me something I’m not interested in is the moment I lose interest and become disengaged with your brand.
  5. Ask the Right Questions: The first question should always be, “Are you ready to buy now or would you like more information?” This will save everyone time in the long run and ensure both the customer and the salesperson get the results they are looking for.
  6. Make It Easy: Becoming a customer shouldn’t be a chore. Make it easy by explaining the process clearly and highlighting all costs, options, etc. up front. If a product or service can be sold online, make sure your promotional campaigns have a clear call to action and make the process of registering, buying and paying as painless and seamless as possible. If a little human engagement is required, remember all of the above points.

What gets you buying or makes you walk away from a deal? Share your comments below:

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.