How to be a Sleazy Salesman in 5 Easy Steps


The best business doesn’t have to be new business.  Tapping into your existing client base is one of the most cost effective and successful ways to generate revenue. However, there’s a fine line between keeping your professional relationships warm and sending your previous clients running as if their hair was on fire. Savvy salespeople recognize that the key to turning a one-time client into a repeat customer comes down to two important things: 1. Providing quality service that offers solutions to your client’s needs, and 2. Maintaining a relationship that keeps your name on their radar so that you are the first person they come to when they are need of support or new products/services.

I can also name 5 things you shouldn’t do.

1. Behave as if your sales pitch is more valuable than the client’s time. Just like you, your clients have a lot to accomplish and very little time to get it all done. If he tells you he has 5 minutes to talk, be grateful he’s giving you those 5 minutes and figure out how to make your pitch in 300 seconds or less.

2. Continue your pitch after the client has made it clear she is not interested at this time. Not only is this disrespectful of her time, it undermines the relationship you worked hard to establish previously. Unless you’ve heard otherwise, it’s safe to assume your client was pleased with your prior transaction. Therefore, she will continue to enlist your services when needed in the future.

3. Continue your pitch after the client has made it clear she is interested and will be using your services in the near future. Believe it or not, this has happened to me recently. The loan company who handled our recent re-fi called last week to offer incentives for returning customers. I informed him that we were extremely happy with their service and that I was absolutely going to come to them for my next refi. In spite of my commitment to work with them again, he continued to “sell” the benefits of their company- excellent customer service, quick turnaround, guaranteed rates, etc. Not only was this a waste of the 5 minutes I told him I had, it became abundantly clear that he was more interested in getting through his pitch than listening to his customer.

4. The old bait and switch. After spending four of the allotted 4 minutes detailing all the reasons I should work with the company I already committed to working with, the loan officer suddenly shifted gears on me. “I also want to talk to you about our offer to set up your home with a wireless security system.” I thought he was offering me great rates and stellar customer service. Now he’s selling wireless security systems? While I trust this company in the finance realm, I have no idea whether or not they are qualified to sell an entirely different product. Just because my dentist has proven to be an expert in his field, does not mean I trust him to paint my house. Furthermore, I can’t imagine he’d legitimately expect me to hire him simply because I had some pleasurable teeth cleanings in the past.

5. Throw a tantrum when it’s clear your client will not be buying your product. There are hundreds of reasons why a sale doesn’t close. Regardless of the reason, you are a professional (and an adult) and should behave as such. Eventually the loan rep stopped talking long enough to realize today was not the day I’d be installing a wireless security system (even though it was clear I would be working with them on my next refi) and he was not pleased. “OK, even though we are going to pay for it for you, through the security company that we own. Goodbye.” He didn’t offer a ‘have a nice day’ or ‘we look forward to working with you in the future’. Not even a ‘thank you for your business.’ Unfortunately, this is going to cost him more than the commission on a security system. Until that final moment, I was willing to overlook his sleazy salesman behaviors. However, when over-selling turned to rudeness and poor customer service, the previous positive experience I had with this company was quickly overshadowed. And this one-time client is having serious reservations about becoming a repeat customer.

The lesson here is that while you may not be a sleazy salesperson, you must ensure that the same can be said about your sales team and anyone else who will interact with your clients.

About the Authors

Ken Schmitt is the President and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search and the Sales Leadership Alliance. Specializing in placing sales, marketing and operations professionals across the country, Ken’s 16 years of recruiting experience have equipped him with the knowledge to serve as a thought partner to his clients for all recruiting, hiring and human capital-related initiatives. Ken sits on the board of Junior Achievement, the American Marketing Association, the San Diego HR Roundtable and is an Advisory Board Member for San Diego Sports Innovators (SDSI).

Vicky Willenberg has served as the Social Media Manager for TurningPoint since 2011. In 2014, she was elevated to Digital Marketing Manager, broadening her participation across all things digital for the firm. A former teacher with a Masters in Education, Vicky is an active and published blogger at The Pursuit of Normal and a marketing professional. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the recruiting, hiring and leadership sectors.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

Contact us if you have a question about one of our services. Check out our jobs page to apply to specific jobs.