Sales and Sales Management Blog

November 23, 2009

Guest Article: “Avoiding Self-Sabotage on Sales Calls,” by Art Sobczak

Filed under: Handling Prospect,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 8:40 am
Tags: , , ,

Avoiding Self-Sabotage on Sales Calls
by Art Sobczak

Art regularly responds to reader e-mails with hand ons, how- to type advice for becoming a better salesperson. Here’s part of an email he received from a reader, and his response.

“Art, an email I received from a vendor, in response to a question we asked about a policy issue, started out with, ‘You’re not going to like this, but …’

“I continued reading, now feeling bitter. However, what was said was really nothing more than what we already knew and expected.

“I would love to see your take on something like this. A piece on the things we do to sabotage ourselves when all we were intending to do was soften the cold hard reality.”

OK. Good idea. Let’s look at a few.
Pointing Out Negatives They: Probably Wouldn’t Notice

I was talking to guy about some training for his small business and mentioned I visited his website. He immediately apologized for some things (which he perceived as negatives) on the site I hadn’t even noticed. After he mentioned them, I guess I did recall them, but really didn’t feel they were negatives at the time.

Some people obsess about things that no one other than them would ever see. But, when they’re highlighted for us, then we tend to see them. For example, red cars in the parking lot outside your building. There. Now I bet that you’ll look for them.

And just think about anyone who has ever said, “Do I look fat in this?”

It’s All in the Positioning

I remember years ago when my kids were little, my wife made the comment, “I’ll let the kids know that they have to stay at Grandma’s house tonight since we’re going out.”

Of course she didn’t intend that to sound negative, but sometimes we say things that can be interpreted
differently than we intend (to say the least!). Leaving nothing to chance, I told her that I would tell them.

So, I put a different spin on it:

“Kids! Guess what? You GET to go spend the night at Grandma’s!”

“Yay!”, they screamed.

Giving TMI (Too Much Info)

I’ve heard many-a-sales rep talk too much about facts irrelevant to what the prospect/customer cared about. The danger here is creating objections.

A sales rep handled an incoming call where the buyer asked for information on a new calculator model he was looking carry in his catalog since he had heard good things about it. Understand now, that the inquirer was interested in placing a large order right then and there for an initial shipment. Things were progressing smoothly until the rep added, “Now of course, these don’t come with the AC adapter.”

The prospect immediately changed his tone and said, “Hmmm, I didn’t really expect them to, but now I’ll have to think about this a bit.” Lost sale.

Here are a few others:

Instead of, “I’m just calling today …”, try, “I’m CALLING today…”.

Instead of, “So you probably don’t want to buy?”, try, “Shall we move forward with the delivery?”

Instead of, “I imagine you’re not looking for another vendor?”, try, “What plans do you have for a backup vendor in case you need something and your present source doesn’t have what you need, when you need it?”

Instead of, “Well, it is expensive, the price is …”, try,”You’re getting (benefit) and (benefit) and it’s only…”

Instead of, “I’ll have to check on that for you.”, try, “I’ll be happy to research that for you.”

I have just scratched the surface here, and I’m sure there are plenty that sound like fingernails across a chalkboard. (I just realized that some people reading this might not have ever seen a chalkboard.)
If you have sabotaged a call with a phrase or question, or have a pet peeve, please share them with me and I’ll pass a few along to readers in a future issue.

For over 26 years Art Sobczak has helped sales pros say and do the right things to minimize resistance and rejection, and get “yes” answers by phone in their sales and prospecting. Get his free weekly emailed tips, see more examples of articles like this one, and hear recordings of actual calls at his Telesales Blog,



  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by paul_mccord: Avoiding self-sabotage on sales calls by @artsobczak

    Trackback by uberVU - social comments — November 23, 2009 @ 11:53 am | Reply

  2. Good one, Art. I find myself making these mistakes from time to time (especially ‘I’m JUST calling to tell you’), and it’s usually when I’m not in a powerful state of mind, when I’m not fully focused on the value I’m bringing to them.

    If you can get into a confident mindset and feel like an equal to the person you’re calling (rather than feeling inferior) most of this kind of language and problems go away, don’t you think?



    Comment by PaulaC — November 25, 2009 @ 7:11 pm | Reply

  3. The article hjits on a lot of insecure behaviors that all sales professionals make from time to time – but it all comes down to listening skills – Letting the customer tell you what is important to them — thanks – I passed this along the chain

    Comment by jeff Bryan — November 30, 2009 @ 11:41 am | Reply

  4. Hi Art, Thanks for your insightful post. I think that salespeople are sooo very prone to sabotaging their own success by making the mistakes you mentioned. Being successful in sales takes a great deal of persistence and personal fortitude. It’s great to see the advice you offer for staying strong.
    Thanks again!

    Comment by Troyann — December 27, 2010 @ 6:46 am | Reply

  5. Reblogged this on TJ Telemarketing and commented:
    Art has great advice for any sales professional looking to increase their influence over the phone!

    Comment by tjtelemarketing — August 14, 2012 @ 11:08 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: