How Overselling Can Hurt Your Sales

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In Philadelphia there’s a long tradition of the ‘best’ cheese steak. The superlative is used by several — and by several we mean more than a dozen — local steak shops to promote their product. They plaster it everywhere so unsuspecting tourists are sure to pop in and taste the very best Philadelphia has to offer.

Any local or native Philadelphian knows, though, where the best places are to go as well as the history of each location. Like most tourist cities, getting sucked in to a sale based on a superlative is just par for the course.

The thing is, if you oversell or over promise on a regular basis, your sales can suffer. You simply can’t say, “We’re the best” and not actually be the best. Therefore, if you, the salesperson, are putting your energy into a product, you need to make sure what you have to offer matches up with what you can actually provide.

First, let’s take a look at a few of the ways you probably oversell and don’t even know it. When you are with a customer, selling on pain is necessary. However, once you find that pain, you have to stay true to your product or service.

Let’s say that Mr. Prospect admits that delivery by ABC company is too slow. He says he needs products with a two day turn around. If you know your business typically promises three to five day shipment times, you are probably thinking, in your excitement, that you can certainly do it in two.

So, you sell the contract knowing full well that two days is pushing it and the customer ends up not getting what they wanted (faster delivery.) You look bad, the customer thinks you’re company is bad and, quite frankly, you probably deserve all the sourness of the pickle you just put yourself in.



The way to get around overselling is fairly simple. You just need to twist around the way your prospect is telling you about his issue. Sometimes you will lose this sale, which is for the better since you can’t actually provide for the terms, and other times, you will get the contract just because the buyer thought it was time for a change.

Here’s the sales training. At the crucial moment when your sales prospect says, “We need delivery in two day,” you must pause. Put your head down or avert your eyes and, as the victim, say, “I don’t know what to do. I really want to work with you (benefit of your company alone) … Our standard policy is three days. How should we handle this?”

The second method that sometimes works is to call a spade a spade. At the crucial moment, you say, “You’re going to be mad at me. I have to tell you something you’re not going to like. Will you promise not to be upset with me when I say this?”

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In both scenarios, you are doing something very simple; you’re putting the decision and the power in the hands of the prospect while fully maintaining control. The key here is that the prospect thinks they are making their own decision while, in reality, you are simply telling them exactly what they need to know to make the decision. Anything they decide is completely their choice since you’ve honestly advised of the contract restraints.

Whatever you do in this scenario, never ever claim to be the superlative of your product (unless you are.) Using those terms sets the bar too high and you simply can’t meet anything that’s not in line with your standards, got it?

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