“Shameless” Sales Tactics You Need to Avoid

Random Rants

I had thought that today we were beyond much of the sleazy, deceptive tactics often associated with sales. But, sadly, I am wrong, as evidenced by an online article, “No Successful Salesperson Is Too Proud to Use Any of These 12 Shameless Tactics,”by Gene Marks, a sales consultant. The amazing thing is that this article appeared on Entrepreneur.com, what typically is a reputable site. Not any more, in my mind, if they give credibility to this crap.

Today we are now experiencing that apparently it is OK for politicians to lie and deceive—which is a sad statement and dangerous rabbit hole to enter. But every truly successful sales pro I know IS indeed too proud, and ethical to use most of these tactics.

I’m going to share his 12 tactics with my remarks.

1. Ignore his office number and call his cell phone. The author suggests that if the cell number is on his email signature, or anywhere else, it’s not private. Then he suggests calling very early or late, and saying you thought it was his office phone and you were just going to leave a message—a blatant lie. I am behind the times on this and old school… I feel that calling someone’s mobile phone should be reserved for situations where you have explicit permission to do so.

2. Ask for him/her by first name. As in, “Dave please.” Of course the thinking here is that you will somehow trick the screener into thinking you are an acquaintance of Dave. Might it work? Sure. But my philosophy is, let’s work WITH the assistant, not try to go around them.

3. Say you’re returning his call. Oh. My. God. This was actually in the article:

“OK, this may be shameless lying. But on the scale of lying it’s pretty far down the list.”

Apparently the author’s ethics reside in a gray area as big as the sky on a rainy day. He then explains that if the prospect confronts you by saying he never called, you can shift the blame elsewhere, “Oh, someone here said you did.” Another lie.

4. Send the same email twice, five minutes apart. He says to apologize in the second one, saying the first bounced back. Did he get it? Let’s see, if you’re keeping score… four tips so far… a total of four lies.

5. Send six duplicate emails, all at the same time. Really. You can’t make this stuff up. He says to apologize in the seventh that you are having software problems (lie five), and hey, how about that open quote?

6. Send an email with the subject line, “Are you OK???” (And keep in the multiple question marks.) Then you should ask if he’s been ill… showing empathy and concern. “Of course you’re not concerned or sympathetic— but there’s a fair chance he’ll reply when he thinks you are.” Lie number six.

7. Find the boss. Email his superior with the subject line, “I want to be sure Dave is OK.” Mention that you were talking but now can’t reach him, and the author reasons it will get forwarded to Dave. Ok, perhaps. But it doesn’t address why Dave was ignoring you, and could have the opposite effect, since you obviously are going over his head.

8. Send from a different domain. He reasons that perhaps your company emails are being filtered, so send from a Gmail or Yahoo account. Ok, I can approve of this one. Because its intent is not to deceive.

9. Spam him. Yes, but it’s “light spamming,” the author defends. Put all of your tough-to-reach prospects on a list and bulk email them three-four times yearly. He emphasizes these are not people who asked to be on your list, you are indeed spamming them. I’m of the belief that if a tree falls in the woods it does make noise, and a bad, untargeted email does do damage. Come on, let’s get a little more creative here.

10. Text him. Tell him your emails aren’t going through, so you were concerned. Probably a lie, but he doesn’t say it in the article. Again, similar to my point on using mobile phones in general, if you don’t have permission, I would not suggest texting.

11. Message him on LinkedIn or Facebook. I personally do suggest sending Linkedin messages also, since they are more likely to get read and responded to. However, he leaves out a very critical point: have something of value when you message. Don’t make it all about you.

12. Tweet at him. This is the only point that even hints at something of value for the prospects. He suggests making it informational, perhaps sharing an article the prospect would get some value from. Congrats, Mr. Marks, after suggesting numerous lies and acts of deception, we have what most people could look at and say that is a good, solid, ethical tip.

Too late though.

I feel like I need a shower to get rid of the sleaze just from reading this article.

There is no place for lying in professional, ethical sales. Every truly successful salesperson I know feels the same way, and I’m pretty sure you are in that group.

Share your thoughts below on these tactics, or on sleazy tactics in general.



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