Small Business Marketing & Bad Sales Pitches: The Put Down - Kevin Bulmer -

Small Business Marketing & Bad Sales Pitches: The Put Down

Small Business Marketing & Bad Sales Pitches: The Put DownHere’s yet another thing I didn’t understand when I was younger:

Everybody’s selling something.

Absolutely everyone is selling. And the way they try to sell will tell you a lot about the way they’re going to service after the sale.

But you might be thinking, “Well, wait a minute. I don’t work in sales!”

Maybe not. But you’re selling.

  • You’re selling yourself to your significant other.
  • You’re selling your kids on what they should, or shouldn’t, be doing.
  • You’re selling raffle tickets for your kids’ dance troupe and chocolate bars for the class trip.
  • Maybe you’re hoping more people will read your blog, follow your Facebook or Twitter your tweets.

Your business card doesn’t have to say “Sales.” We’re all selling.

Consider: Like Attracts Like

But what makes the real difference is whether the other people involved feel like you’re trying to sell them or not. You can sell without asking. Some people buy without knowing why.

But you know why.

It’s attraction. Like attracts like.

If you are genuine and sincere and lead with the thought of wanting to help people, you’ll attract people that actually enjoy contributing and want to help by buying what you’re selling. It doesn’t matter what it is: if it’s sincere and helpful, you’ll eventually get buy-in, and probably some referrals too.

On the other hand, if what you have looks and feels like a “sales pitch,” you may have some success, but you’ll work twice as hard for half as much, and you’ll repel more business than you attract.

If Like Attracts Like, What Does “The Put Down” Attract?

Here’s an example of an awful sales pitch: the put-down. It’s lazy, it’s common and it’s oh-so-tiresome.

It happens all the time. I run from it.

I most recently encountered this with an automotive client, whose dealership sells a different kind of car than what I’m currently driving. They have nice cars, and they’re very nice people. And I’ve often thought that I’d like to look at one of their cars the next time I’m buying or leasing a vehicle.

But this one salesperson is wrecking it for me.

Ironically, I like this person. She’s pleasant and nice to talk to. But her sales pitch is to put me down. That might work with you, but I can tell you it doesn’t work for me. Here’s how it goes:

“Hey Kevin, when are you going to be cool like ‘X person’ and get one of our cars?”

Oh, so I’m not cool?

Another popular way for her to put it: “Hey Kevin, why don’t you get rid of that thing and come drive a real car?”

Or another favourite: “Why would you drive a piece of junk like that when you could drive one of our cars, like ‘X person’ does?”

This looks ridiculous on paper, doesn’t it? But it happens all the time.

All. The. Time.

Entire countries are led by people who have been elected using, essentially, this very sales pitch. Frightening, isn’t it?

Why do we put up with it?

Let’s Call It What It Is: You’re Stupid Unless You Buy From Me

I’ll make it a little clearer and decode this pitch:

“Your friend is cool because he bought my stuff. You are not because you didn’t, but you could be if you do.”


Or …

“You’re an idiot for choosing to buy what you did. But if you buy my thing, you’ll be smart.”


And then …

“You made a stupid decision to buy what you did. I’m judging you for that, hard. You’re dead to me. That is unless, of course, you change your mind and buy my thing. Then, you’ll be alive to me again, and I won’t judge you anymore.”

I’m exhausted just writing this, because we literally see some version of this almost everywhere, at least here in North America: “That’s bad and this is good so get this and not that.”

Have mercy.

Umm … Solutions, Please?

Whatever you may be selling or trying to achieve, please consider a more proactive and mutually beneficial approach.

Here are a few potential alternatives, and if you can think of some others, please leave them in the comments section, below.

For instance:

She could have asked me, “Hey Kevin, what do you like about the car you’re driving now?” Then she could pay attention to my answer, make a note and come back to me at another time with a “did you know?” about something related to one of their vehicles that (she would now know) I liked. That’d be a nice tactic that showed she was actually interested in me and not just my wallet.

Or …

She could ask me if my friend (‘X person’) had ever said what he likes about their cars so much, because he keeps coming back to them. Just by answering that question, or trying to, it would put my in a frame of mind of thinking positive things about their cars and dealership. That’s a good energy vibe.

Or maybe she could have said something like, “When you get to the point of choosing your next car, what kind of features are you thinking you may want it to have?” Again, that’s a good thought pattern, and might even open things up for her to suggest (after listening to me), “Have you ever considered having ‘X feature’? It sounds like it might be something you’d really enjoy.” And leave it at that. Because if she’s right, she’ll have given me something to think about, which she’ll have earned because I’ll have felt like I was listened to.

But instead, what I get from her, essentially, is: “You & your car both suck.”

I can tell you one thing for sure about the dealership where I did get my last car.

They had a very different sales pitch.

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