8 Annoying Sales Behaviors You Need to Stop Now

We’ve all received that annoying sales call or been approached with an irritating sales gimmick. Don’t be a pain-in-the-neck salesperson. Check out these eight selling tactics to avoid, along with five steps to ensuring you are seen as a valuable, effective seller.

Yes, sales people, the sales process can be annoying for some.

From the prospect’s perspective, the potential for your call to be annoying starts with being interrupted, the first impression of the seller, the level of preparation and knowledge, the urgency of the topic and so on. Annoying behaviors are unique to each person we interact with but, over time, an experienced prospect builds up an early warning system to help identify horrendous sales calls and annoying people.

Let’s think for a moment about the prospective customer/decision maker you are trying to reach and earn the right to a conversation or meeting with. Based on internal business meetings, priorities, challenges and conflicts, their to-do list likely does not include this unexpected phone call from you. Adding to this constantly-growing list, how many times a day does a decision maker have to fend off internal interruptions, meetings, annoying bosses and colleagues, new challenges and the countless sales pitches from people and companies they have never heard of? How many of the sales calls are from people who are rude, not prepared to answer questions, do not ask relevant questions, do not listen, use tricks of the trade, trash talk competitors and other annoying tactics?

This is the reality of life with sales people.

Sales is a profession like many others; some people are good at it and others are not. As a sales person in most situations, your job is to help your company grow through the retention of loyal customers as well as engage directly with decision makers at new target companies or new calls or visits to your company. Your work requires you to identify customer needs, evaluate the opportunities and develop a solid and valuable solution for each customer. People and companies do not want to buy stuff they do not need and they do not want to waste time with those who don’t add value and are not aligned with their individual and business goals.

Stop being annoying!

Here are eight behaviors that customers find annoying and likely drive them away from your call or meeting you at an event:

Annoying Behavior No. 1: Disrespect for the decision maker’s priorities. Beyond a successful interruption, you might demonstrate a lack of awareness and understanding of the decision maker’s role, responsibilities and priorities.

Annoying Behavior No. 2: Wasting the decision maker’s time. The obligatory chit-chat and weather check can be an assumed rapport builder. Not knowing who the prospects are or what they do, not being organized and being tied to reading a script are indicators that you are just smiling and dialing.

Annoying Behavior No. 3: Not knowing enough about their business. Asking a prospect what they do indicates you are a novice and a lack of preparation. You fall short of demonstrating how you fit as a proven resource.

Annoying Behavior No. 4: Not having a clear WIIFM for the decision maker. It is frustrating if a seller can’t answer the question “What’s in it for me?” or if a seller does not do the work to understand the prospects’ current situation, where they want to be, the value of achieving these results and the urgency of a better solution. It is hard to present a clear path on how you are aligned with the prospects’ priorities if you are not focused on their buying needs, challenges, goals, budget and urgency.

Annoying Behavior No. 5: Demonstrating poor communications, relationship and rapport building skills. You talk too much, interrupt and do not listen to key things already shared. There may be a high level of self-promotion, blowing your horn, bragging, unsolicited opinions and name dropping.

Annoying Behavior No. 6: Using sales tricks and gimmicks. Many people go to sales trainings and read book on selling. Use of manipulative techniques and gimmicks are easy to spot.

Annoying Behavior No. 7: Trashing your competition. Every decision made has a range of options. Trashing the current supplier sends a strong signal that the buyer’s previous decisions were not well thought out.

Annoying Behavior No. 8: Complaining and whining. They get enough of that from their own team so why share your unwelcome dissatisfaction.

So, what can you do to be less annoying?

As humans we want other people to think highly of us and trust us. In business and in sales it is vital to our success that our ability to present our ideas and ourselves does not backfire. Selling is hard work that requires skills, knowledge and behaviors needed to engage and help prospects and customers achieve their desired results.

Try these five steps to help you come across as less annoying:

Be Less Annoying Step No. 1: Assess yourself. With the help of others, identify your skills gaps or behaviors that you need to address to help you get better and more consistent results.

Be Less Annoying Step No. 2: Be relevant. Figure out what you need to do to be pertinent to your target

customers and earn the right to a conversation, a meeting and a relationship.

Be Less Annoying Step No. 3: Be prepared. Make sure you are poised to be clear and confident on your next steps when you ask “On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with the results you are getting with you current solution?”

Be Less Annoying Step No. 4: Be trustworthy. Know what it takes to build confidence and be a trusted resource to address your customers’ needs.

Be Less Annoying Step No. 5: Think chemistry. Understand how your personality and behaviors might cause prospects and customers to be annoyed with you.

Demonstrate that meeting with you can help customers and prospects solve their problems and achieve that higher level of satisfaction. Make each interaction valuable and aligned with the customers’ or the prospects’ priorities at the time needed.

Make the time decision makers and buyers spend with you worthwhile. Help them see their time with you as an investment, and your effort will pay off.

Wayne Bergman is a business and executive coach and founder of Consistent Business Growth. Questions or comments about this piece? Email him directly at wayne@cbgrowth-gfm.com.

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  • Next up: 8 Essential Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

    8 Essential Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

    It’s no secret the entrepreneurial mindset operates a little bit differently than others. But what habits do the most successful entrepreneurs share? That’s a question that author and entrepreneur Gary Schoeniger has set out to answer.

    It’s no secret the entrepreneurial mindset operates a little bit differently than others. But what habits do the most successful entrepreneurs share? That’s a question that author and entrepreneur Gary Schoeniger has set out to answer.

    During a recent COSE webinar titled “Essential Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs” he said he found that the most successful of these people seemed to share the same eight critical habits.

    And those habits are:

    1. The power to choose

    This might be the most important quality an entrepreneur can possess, Schoeniger said. He defines this as turning off the auto pilot and turning on the radar. “Choose the way you respond to your circumstances,” he said. “Be aware.”

    2. Recognize opportunities

    “Problems are opportunities,” he said. When a pain point is encountered, the entrepreneurial brain immediately starts trying to think about how it can be improved: “Why are we doing it this way? How can it be done better?”

    3. Ideas into action

    If you think for too long, you won’t take action, he said. Also, when you begin to implement your ideas, you’ll discover what was previously undiscovered and that can help your business.

    4. Pursuit of knowledge

    Again, the most successful entrepreneurs should be thinking about how they can improve their business. They test. They think. They learn.

    5. Creating wealth

    Entrepreneurs understand it is more important to BE wealthy than LOOK wealthy. “Most people choke themselves with debt to look wealthy,” Schoeniger said. If an entrepreneur gets a $500 tax refund, for example, they will use that money to advance their ideas and not spend it on material things.

    6. Building a brand

    Customers should know what to expect when they do business with you. Be reliable.

    7. Create a community

    Surround yourself with other successful entrepreneurs. “A rising tide lifts all boats,” he said. Also, this extends to social media. Schoeniger suggested building a powerful Twitter news feed by following people such as Elon Musk on the social network.

    8. The power of persistence

    Being a small business owner is all about resilience. It’s the notion of turning into an overnight success after 20 years of hard work. Entrepreneurs should not expect things to be easy.

    Want to hear more from Schoeniger about what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur? Register for the next installment of COSE’s Business Boot Camp Series on March 23 when he will lead a session titled “Entrepreneurial Mindset & How it Can Drive Your Business to Success.

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  • Next up: 8 Social Media Strategies to Remember this Holiday Season

    8 Social Media Strategies to Remember this Holiday Season

    Make sure your business is part of your customers’ conversation this holiday season by following these eight simple social media tips.

    Already, holiday messaging is starting to emerge across social media. As a small business, the holiday season might be your best quarter, so it's important to get those sales in before the off-season hits. Maybe you have a holiday strategy mapped out? Or maybe you’re winging it this year?

    Either way, there are eight key strategies to remember when using social media to promote your business during the holiday season. Let’s take a look!

    1. Hit all the key points during the holiday season. There are peak points during the holiday season. Leverage social media to promote your business before and after Thanksgiving; on Black Friday (Nov. 24); Small Business Saturday (Nov. 25); Cyber Monday (Nov. 27); early December; Christmas Eve; and New Year's Eve. Plan out content that hits each timeframe.

    2. Specify the holiday for a more customized approach. Many businesses will keep the generic " Happy Holidays" message, but consider being more specific with your holiday messaging. This will allow you to target more specifically on Facebook and other social media channels.

    3. Go beyond discounts. You might feel a discount is the best way to increase sales during the holidays, but research shows there are other perks that can get customers to purchase more, such as free shipping or a free gift, or holding a holiday contest.

    4. Make it about the holidays even if your business isn't something that resonates during the holidays. Businesses such as window replacement companies or auto repair shops know their businesses aren't top of mind during the business holidays. To be part of the holiday conversation in the social space, put a holiday twist on your marketing. Think about boosting a promotion on Facebook that's good for an after-holiday tune-up or giving your most loyal customers a digital gift.

    5. Go all out. Update your profile picture, cover photos and other parts of your social media pages with holiday cheer. Think, "How can I turn my social media accounts into a digital Christmas celebration?" Use custom holiday photography and messaging. Get creative!

    6. Do something good for others. Consumers love businesses that go beyond their daily duty of providing services and goods. It reminds them there are people behind the business who truly care. Consider using social media to collect money for someone less fortunate during the holiday season or inviting your followers to join you in a volunteer opportunity.

    7. Hold a holiday event. Facebook's event feature is a great way to invite your followers to a holiday event. It can be as simple as an open house or a larger holiday party. 

    8. Spread holiday cheer through live video. Sometimes just a good old, "Happy Holidays from us to you" can make your customers feel extra special. Use Facebook and Instagram live to send a cheery holiday message to your fans. Think of it as a digital holiday card.

    Get creative this holiday season and make your small business a larger part of the holiday conversation in the social media space. Remember to always set up measurements on your social channels to ensure you're able to measure your efforts.

    Happy Holidays!

    Annie Pryatel is the owner of AMP Brand Studios. Learn more about how AMP is helping small businesses succeed by clicking here.

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  • Next up: 8 Ways to Improve Social Media for Your Small Business

    8 Ways to Improve Social Media for Your Small Business

    Operating a business social media account is a lot different than the way you manage your own personal account. Here’s how to craft an effective business-minded social strategy that will help your business succeed.

    If you build it, they will come.

    If you post it on a social media channel, they will engage.

    False. Today's social media channels require strategy thinking and creative ideas.

    Many small businesses today are relying on their knowledge of managing a personal social media account to run their business social media accounts. Running social media for a business is very different than running it for yourself. There are a variety of tools and resources out there, but it takes time and effort to keep a constant pulse on your business' social media accounts.

    Your social media will only work its hardest for you if you combine strategy and creative to reach and engage your audience.

    What are some things you can do to improve your business' social media accounts? Here are eight tips you can try.

    1. Be authentic and transparent. Be you

    Authenticity is vital in the social media space. Customers expect a brand's content to be honest and human-like. Your competition is most likely on social media, so be prepared to think of creative ideas that are unique to your business, include your tone of voice and branding, and are hard to replicate.

    2. Entertainment vs. Advertisement vs. Information

    All three types of content should have a healthy balance in your content strategy and work together. Advertisements need to be executed correctly, so they aren't ignored on social media platforms. Content should be entertaining, but still get your message across. Information, such as tips and tricks, can help educate your audience. Think about whether it makes sense for your brand to create each type of content or to share it from a third-party publisher.

    3. Video is very important

    Facebook predicts that in just a few years, most of its content will be video. Investing in video now will save you time in the long run and put you ahead of the game. Video is the top type of content and should in incorporated into your marketing strategy. It helps your business to show, not tell.

    4. Go live

    Many social media channels have added live features to their platforms. Facebook Live and Instagram Live help customers tune in and see what's going on at your business at that exact moment. Customers want to know the news now, not later.

    5. Organic reach is disappearing. Paid posts need to be part of your strategy

    If you've ever taken a look at your organic posts' reach compared to the number of fans/followers you have, you may be disappointed. Only a small percentage of your fans will see your content due to new algorithms. A low monthly social media budget ($25 to $100) can target your posts to all your fans and new customers and significantly increase your reach.

    6. Create mini campaigns for promotions and events

    Special promotions and events need their own mini-campaigns. Think about who needs to see your events and promotions and create a strategy that grabs that audience's attention and gets your content in front of their eyes. Promotions and events are time sensitive, so plan accordingly and think beyond just a single post.

    7. Only be where you need to be

    You do not need to be on every social media channel. Depending on your industry, it might make sense to only be on one or two channels. Facebook is slowly replacing the traditional and is a must for almost all businesses, with Instagram being a close second. The other channels depend on your brand strategy, industry, and audience. The more focused you are, the more time you have to create content that spreads and works hard for your business.

    8. Use social media as a way to spread your message beyond your own channels

    Great content gets noticed, shared, and goes beyond your channels. Use your content to get featured on third party publishers or get news coverage. Create content that matters and stands out, but also meets your business goals.

    Remember, social media won't solve all your marketing problems, but it can help a lot if you begin to understand each platform and correctly use it. Don't be scared to push the limits and think outside the box. It's a crowded marketplace, and there is a lot of content floating around the internet. Your social media strategy is important in keeping your business' digital presence strong, effective, and important to your customers.

    AMP Brand Studios is owned by Annie Pryatel, a Cleveland native who started her business to help small businesses in her hometown have a meaningful presence through creative and strategic ideas. AMP focuses on amplifying businesses' messages and brand, through social media, influencer campaigns, blog writing, PR efforts, and other digital tactics. AMP believes communities are stronger when small businesses thrive and this drives its work and mission. Be small, but mighty.

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  • Next up: 9 Tools to get Started with Content Marketing

    9 Tools to get Started with Content Marketing

    Content marketing has emerged as one of the most effective ways for small businesses to establish credibility, increase brand awareness, generate leads and drive other important business outcomes. In fact, 70 percent of customers prefer to get information about a company from content rather than through traditional advertising. Clearly, content marketing is a smart investment. But, it can also seem like an overwhelming task to take on – especially if you’re short on time, resources or budget. 

    Content marketing has emerged as one of the most effective ways for small businesses to establish credibility, increase brand awareness, generate leads and drive other important business outcomes. In fact, 70 percent of customers prefer to get information about a company from content rather than through traditional advertising.

    Clearly, content marketing is a smart investment. But, it can also seem like an overwhelming task to take on – especially if you’re short on time, resources or budget.

    Sound familiar? Have no fear. Regardless of what support you have access to, anyone can take on content marketing using these nine tools:

    1. Canva. Use Canva to create any and all content marketing assets you might need, from e-books and infographics to blog graphics and social posts. You can use their existing templates and design elements or upload your own, plus everything is instantly ready to email, download or share.
    2. Piktochart. Another option for creating infographics and visualizing data, Piktochart has over 400 built-in templates, icons and graphics to choose from.
    3. Wordswag. Creating a content series or just need branded/text-centric images? Wordswag is an easy-to-use iPhone app for making and sharing them.
    4. Death to the Stock Photo. If you need access to photos to include in your content marketing but don’t have time to shoot your own, Death to the Stock Photo is the answer. The service provides free high-quality photos to share anywhere. You can sign up to receive free monthly photo packs (each includes 10 pictures) or pay $15 to get premium access to their complete library.
    5. Dissolve. Use Dissolve to get access to hours of professional-quality stock video footage and clips from top filmmakers, editors and producers.
    6. Flipboard. Flipboard’s digital magazines have recently emerged as must-have tools for collecting and sharing stories. Whether you’re curating content or creating your own, get a little creative and the opportunities are endless.
    7. Storify. Another popular tool for aggregating content, Storify let’s you pull together photos, video, text and links from various sources (social media platforms and news outlets) into one comprehensive story.
    8. Slideshare. Use Slideshare to host e-books, white papers, presentations or other content marketing materials you create. It’s easy to embed Slideshare links onto your company website or blog, plus you can see exactly how many people have viewed or downloaded each file you upload.
    9. Buffer. If you’re going to invest in creating content, don’t forget about promoting the content you create. Use Buffer to schedule tweets, pins, Facebook posts or LinkedIn updates that share your content and increase your social footprint.

    Want to learn more about content marketing and how it can work for your business? Join Heather Whaling at the Small Business Convention for a workshop "Content Marketing: Become a Thought Leader and Share Your Expertise" on October 21 at 2:45 p.m.  

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  • Next up: 9 SEO Tips to Get Your Website Noticed

    9 SEO Tips to Get Your Website Noticed

    Content marketing is a proven powerful tool to get potential customers interested in your company. But with so many companies jumping on the content bandwagon, it can be difficult to get noticed. During a recent workshop, Insivia’s Andy Halko walked attendees through nine steps marketers can take today to help improve their search engine optimization and get their content seen.

    Putting together your company’s website is no easy task and once it’s completed, it’s easy to fall into a sense of relief that the hard work is finally over. Problem is, the work is only getting started.

    Getting your website online is one thing, but getting it found once it’s up is just as difficult. During a recent “SEO Deep Dive” seminar, Insivia’s Andy Halko walked attendees through some of the actions they should take to ensure their website pages rank highly on search engines.

    Following are nine SEO tips Halko suggested business owners should put into practice so their company’s products and services are easily found by potential customers.

    SEO tip No. 1: It’s a long road. Keep in mind it takes time to build your content. SEO is a journey and pays off over time; not overnight.

    SEO tip No. 2: Keep working at it. Relatedly, in some ways, your website is always a work in progress. Think of it like your house: You wouldn’t move into a new home and then never cut the grass, clean, or do any maintenance, right? It’s the same for your website. Take care of issues such as 404 errors, slow loading times, etc., as you become aware of them. Otherwise, you might drop in search rankings.

    SEO tip No. 3: Pay attention to Google Maps. Make sure your business information is included in Google Maps, otherwise you literally won’t be on the map.

    SEO tip No. 4: Don’t guess. It’s 2019 and there is absolutely no excuse for guessing on what parts of your site are resonating with customers when there are plenty of tools out there—such as Google Analytics—to help you figure out where you should be spending your time.

    SEO tip No. 5: Know your key word phrases. Key words, aka the search terms that people plug into search engines to describe what they’re looking for, are incredibly important. As was mentioned in the fourth tip above, there’s no need to guess here, either. Google’s free AdWords tool can help you narrow down which terms you’d like to try to rank for.

    Keep in mind you shouldn’t always go for the most popular phrases because they have the most competition, making it harder to fight your way to the top of those rankings. Experiment with other key word phrases that are just below the top phrase for your product or service so that there is less competition for your website pages to rank highly.

    SEO tip No. 6: Play around with the length of your keyword phrases. Shorter keyword phrases of one or two words are more difficult to rank. Think about using four-plus word phrases, which comprise approximately 70% of searches, and can generate a good amount of organic traffic for your content.

    SEO tip No. 7: Quality rules. Search engines such as Google love and prioritize quality content that adds value. What does that mean, exactly? When it comes to creating the impression with search engine algorithms that your content is valuable, consider:

    • Longer articles: Articles of 1,500-plus words show that you are trying to provide information that is going to be useful to your audience. This is a good word length goal to keep in mind as you add content to your site. That said, it’s important also to not write for the search engines—write for your audience! If, through your testing, you discover that your audience reacts more favorably to shorter pieces, then don’t be afraid to put together shorter pieces if that’s what your readers want to see.
    • Outbound links: Part of adding value is directing your audience to other resources that can provide additional information. Be warned though, make sure the site you’re directing people to is a quality site, otherwise your pages could be penalized in the search rankings. Check first before linking to make sure the site you’re directing people to is indeed providing information you think would be useful to your customers.
    • Social signals: One sign search engines look for is whether your page’s url is being shared on social platforms. This is because the search algorithms assume that a page being shared on social must have value. Want to know what goes into having success on your social channels? Check out our social media playbook here.

    SEO tip No. 8: Stay focused. Search engines like to single out those pages that maintain a tight focus on a specific subject, rather than those that provide just a broad overview of a topic. So, don’t be afraid to dive deep and get into the weeds on the subjects you’re writing about. This should help you generate better, more specific keywords, which, as noted above, will help your SEO ranking.

    SEO tip No. 9: Find your community. One of the best ways to amplify your reach is by working with others. Look for sites, companies or organizations similar to yours that also have a content marketing program in place and ask for guest post opportunities with links back to your site. Don’t be tempted to buy backlinks, as that will have a negative impact on your page ranking.

    Learn more about the power of content marketing by clicking here to check out additional stories on how you can draw more people to your site.

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