6 Reasons You’re Involuntarily Repelling Customers With Your Sales Pitch | by Rachel Greenberg | Jul, 2022

If you don’t want to know the real reason your energetic, no-brainer pitch isn’t bagging you $10k a month, skip this one.

6 reasons you’re involuntarily repelling customers with your sales pitch. If you don’t want to know the real reason your energetic, no-brainer pitch isn’t bagging you $10k a month, skip this one.
Photo by Chase Chappell on Unsplash

As an entrepreneur — or anyone for that matter — the last thing you want to be is repulsive. It goes without saying that making friends, influencing people, and converting strangers into customers is going to be next-to-impossible if every word out of your mouth evokes disgust, distrust, or disrespect. Nonetheless, there are countless entrepreneurs out there obliviously and involuntarily doing just that; in fact, you could be one of them.

As someone who’s had to master selling my skills to recruiters (to land 6-figure jobs on Wall Street), selling companies to buyers in M&A transactions, and subsequently selling my own companies’ products to strangers-turned-customers, I will be the first to admit I’ve messed up. I’ve probably committed every cardinal sin of sales repulsion before I started to catch onto the fact that maybe I — or my poor salesmanship strategy — was the problem.

If you’re just testing the waters launching your new business, frustrated with suboptimal conversion rates, or merely curious as to whether you’re unknowingly repelling prospective customers, read on to identify (and avoid) the 6 fatal errors that can kill any sales pitch.

So many people mess up before a single word comes out of their mouth, simply because they approach a sales pitch with the assumption that their job is to convince the customer. In other words, they assume there will be pressuring, arm-twisting, and fighting off objections until they wear the customer down and achieve that coveted conversion. In reality, that approach reeks of repulsion, and emotionally-aware customers will get the “ick” feeling the second you begin.

Instead of starting with a high-pressure attempt at dragging a customer over to your side of the fence, consider if there are questions you could probe that would lead that customer to make the purchase decision on their own. When a customer independently arrives at the discovery that they could benefit from your product or service, they tend to need a lot less convincing from outside sources. Prospects will always trust themselves more than a company, a marketer, or a salesperson, so why not position your offer in a light that leads customers to sell themselves on it?

Are you memorizing a word-for-word sales script, polishing off video testimonials to Oscar-worthy perfection, and expunging any traces of historical blemishes from your or your company’s digital presence before daring hit “publish” on that new campaign? If so, you might actually be doing yourself — and your conversion rate — a disservice.

I’m not suggesting that quality isn’t important, but perfection may be a step too far and one that can wrinkle your prospects’ noses with insincerity and distrust. If you want to be an amazing salesperson, become an amazing conversationalist. Seriously. Making people like, listen to, and take advice from (and believe) you comes down to genuine charisma, but being charismatic is hard to do without being genuine and showing a tiny bit of vulnerability.

Yes, people like vulnerability, even if it puts a small dent in your planned-to-be-perfect façade. Show the rough cut testimonial where the customer stumbled over his words for a second. Open up about your or your company’s past foibles (and how you’ve since improved in response to historical client feedback). Go off script, or better yet, make your sales pitch a two-way street of a conversation. Let the customer talk to you about themself and form a real connection. People buy from real people, not canned scripts and heavily-edited testimonials-turned-movie-trailers.

If your marketing or sales calls feel like a performance, you may be doing something wrong or at the least, leaving room for improvement and money on the table.

I used to start dripping with sweat three minutes into my prospect consultations. I was talking 100 miles per minute, covering all the bases I wanted to cover as fast as possible to distract from the ones I was afraid of addressing. Plainly put, I knew my then-offering had some weak points and my company some insecurities I hadn’t yet decided how to address. Thus, I dodged those objections as much as I could, word-vomiting out facts, features, and everything else to keep the customer from looking under a rock I wasn’t comfortable acknowledging.

Did my prospects know I was dancing around my insecurities? Maybe not, but it definitely added an unnecessary and unhelpful layer of paranoia that kept me stressed, rushed, and perpetually on-edge, rather than connecting in-the-moment with the prospect. If your company, product, or service has some shortcoming or a gnawing objection you’re afraid a member of your target audience might one day uncover, skirting around the issue is a poor, temporary, and lazy (and cowardly) decision.

If you go into a sales call afraid, how can you expect to project confidence and instill trust? You can’t. Do the hard, scary work of wrestling with those shortcomings, weak points, and objections now — before you get on one more sales call. Your company won’t be every prospect’s cup of tea, but you should have a more-than-sufficient answer to every question or objection they may present. This is your business, and you should be its #1 spokesperson and defender.

Have you ever groveled or apologized your way into a sale? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that’s a no; however, you may be involuntarily giving off that accidental, apologetic, inferior, insecurity-laced energy, nonetheless.

One of the most common mistakes young founders, first-time entrepreneurs, and those with severe imposter syndrome may succumb to is putting their target customer on a pedestal. This is incredibly common when attempting to bag those first customers for some pretty obvious reasons:

  • You’re actually new to this, so you inherently lack practice
  • You don’t have the ego boost of hundreds or thousands of closed sales or happy customer outcomes to remind you your product or service has merit
  • Those first few customers feel like the most monumental nuts to crack, as if securing them determines the entire destiny of your business (it probably doesn’t, and you should really never put that much weight on any one sale)

The same way customers can smell B.S. (we’ll get to that in a minute), they can also smell fear, insecurity, and anxiety. If you truly believe that your product or service offers customers life-improving value, then enlightening them about your offering through a marketing pitch should feel like a benevolent act of service in their favor, rather than a slimy, guilt-inducing money-grab. If you’re a sincere entrepreneur, prospects will connect with your proposal and believe that; if you’re sincerely apprehensive, they’ll pick up on that, too.

One of the best pieces of sales advice I’ve ever received — which has markedly changed and improved my salesmanship, marketing skills, and mental health — is to approach every sale as if you’re fine with or without it. The second you put elevated pressure on yourself to close a sale or convince a challenging prospect “or else” (or else your company will fail, your rent will be late, your electricity will be cut, etc.), you inadvertently emanate desperation and lower the quality of your pitch. Don’t do it; there’s truly no benefit.

We’ve all probably read a million times how we need to prepare to field or debunk prospects’ objections, as well as to throw on extra incentives here and there to accelerate or secure the close. What if I told you there are some objections you shouldn’t rebut? What if I promised you there are some incentives, bonuses, and promises you should never extend? What if I told you there are some prospects you should walk away from first, even if it means missing your self-imposed sales goal or revenue target?

If you market to enough people, hop on enough sales calls, or launch and grow enough companies, you will undoubtedly encounter a number of prospects who seemingly can’t be satisfied. These prospects represent a bottomless pit of questions, concerns, and requests for more, more, more, that no matter how hard you try, you’ll simply never please. These people are a distraction, a drain on resources, and a test of your ability to cut your losses before they start bleeding into your sanity and profit margin.

Here’s the most ironic part: In your quest to appease or convert these insatiably needy, greedy Nellies into customers, you may resort to agreeing with or acquiescing to their every request and demand — even if you can’t follow through. The irony lies in the fact that once you start over-promising and offering affirmative answers to every hole they poke, their trust in you may start to wane — rapidly.

It takes courage and integrity to tell a prospect what you can’t do, not just what you can. You’ll get far more brownie points (respect and positive customer experiences) if you’re honest, upfront, and willing to admit when a product or service is simply the wrong fit for the person haggling on the other end of the line. Believe it or not, sometimes honesty is the most refreshing type of pitch and the very thing that closes the deal.

Have you ever thought to yourself “I’ll do whatever it takes” to close this sale? If so, you’ve likely already disqualified yourself without even realizing it. Specifically, if a prospective customer is haggling over a price, requesting a discount, or continuing to wear you down after you already made three concessions too many, you’re the one with a metal hook hanging out of your mouth, not them — and it may not end well for you. Here’s why:

If you’re so willing to cut a deal that you begin slashing prices, comping services, extending payment plans, waiving fees, and the works, you start to betray your own confidence that your product or service was ever worth the stated price. In fact, you make them start to wonder if anyone is even paying those prices, if you’ve ever had a customer (who wasn’t a blood relative) before, and whether you’re legitimate or worth your rates at all.

Once a prospect catches a whiff of the idea that you’ll do whatever it takes or bend over backwards to get them to buy, their suspicions heighten and they start to wonder why.

  • What’s so wrong with you or your service that you’re slashing prices?
  • Why do you need their sale so badly?
  • Shouldn’t you have other customers lining up to pay your prices, and if not, what in the world are they doing there?

Those are the thoughts that start racing through a prospect’s brain once you tip your hand to your lack of conviction, surplus of desperation, and the fact that you’re willing to hand over control. Some prospects will use it to bleed you dry and take advantage, while others will be spooked enough that no matter how many price cuts or freebies you throw in, they won’t buy from you if you paid them to.

If we trace back each and every act of repulsion to whatever insecurity, fear, misconception, or impulse led you there, it’s clear that these sales and marketing fails came down to forced communications. They were stilted, unbalanced, divisive, contentious, bravado-riddled, and desperate. Simply put, they were unnatural and embraced a power struggle between two sparring, distrustful, unequal combatants, rather than representing a harmonious unity of two natural, but opposite parties shaking hands on a two-way street.

Sales should be natural. Sales should be harmonious. Sales should feel good for both parties, not like a quick swatch of wool pulled over one party’s eyes with an arm twisted by the other.

If sales feels repulsive, icky, or degrading, you just might be doing it wrong. Furthermore, if you’re thinking cringeworthy thoughts about yourself, your product, service, or your sales pitch, just imagine the confidence, charisma, sincerity or lack thereof you’re emitting to prospects. It doesn’t have to be unpleasant, repulsive, or cringeworthy unless you make it that way, so don’t.