founder of naked leader

How to Lose a Sale

Time to Read: Enough to lose a sale

Time to Listen: Next time you are with a customer!

Now, huddle up – losing a sale does not happen by accident, whether you are in retail, selling by phone or pitching for business – you must work very hard to lose. Here’s how to do it:

One. Shop

These are three effective techniques to get those annoying customers out of your store:

1. Show no interest whatsoever – if they come towards you start to gossip, or have an argument with another assistant.

2. Do the opposite – hassle them from the moment they walk in – the best way to do this is to invade their personal space and say “can I help you madam/sir.” Whatever they say don’t leave them alone, stalk them round the store– now this sounds polite, so you won’t get into trouble, AND you will lose the sale. Win-Win!

3. Memorize these three phrases to use, all will have a direct negative impact:

“Sorry, if it’s not on the rail then we don’t have it in store” (Bull’s-eye – they know you don’t know).

“I don’t know” (arrow hits subconscious and translates as “I don’t care”).

If they say “thank you” sigh, and say “no problem” or better still “it’s my job” (In other words, ‘I have to be like that’).

Two. Customer Calls

These are the three most effective techniques to really upset potential / customers on the phone:

1. Cold Calls – talk to the person with a familiarity that suggests you were once childhood friends. Early on, ask “are you having a good day today?” If they do answer, say “really!””

2. If you are calling an existing customer – have no details in front of you. Better still, ask them for their ten digit customer number in a way that suggests they should either know it off my heart, or tattooed on the back of their hand. When they say they don’t know it, audibly sigh and say as sarcastically as you can “well, I might be able to find it through your address.” Also, if you have to put the customer through to another department, make sure you pass on no details, or better, play some very annoying music interspersed with “your call is very important to us, please hold” and best of all, cut them off completely.

3. Three great techniques to ensure your customers never bother you:

Put them through to automated options, or better still, get them to answer an automated question, out loud. These things never work, and it’s great fun if your customer is in a public place.

Say, at any stage in the conversation when they mention something they have been told by someone else in your company: “I didn’t tell you that” – emphasise the I.

Be doing something else while they are going on and on – Solitaire is so addictive.

Three. Business Pitches

These are the four most effective techniques to lose a pitch – see if you can get them all in one session:

1. Do absolutely no preparation whatsoever.

2. Remember it’s all about you – so spend at least 30 minutes covering your company’s history, vision and values.

3. Run down your competitors.

4. Don’t answer the questions they ask – answer the ones they should have asked.


With my love and best wishes

David X

PS – For how to win and keep a customer! Book now for Powerful Customer Rapport

PS – And finally here’s a company (and a man) that have ignored everything above – Ford Retail’s customer service “Moments of Truth” campaign has just reached 20,000 moments – extraordinary, and well done John Leathem, who personally signed every card.

14 Responses to How to Lose a Sale

  1. Funny that a lot of sales people actually do put you off buying!
    Love the audio on this one David 🙂

  2. I walked into a shop yesterday and I was the only customer. The two members of staff behind the till were chatting about what they got up to the night before, quite loudly.
    The 5 mins I spent browsing, all I could hear was them talking and it got be more annoyed as they were obviously not trying to do anything to make the customer experience a welcoming one.
    One even glanced over at me and sniggered after saying something to their colleague he realised he should not have done.
    Not really the way to win friends and influence people but hey, I’m sure they were able to concentrate on what they should have been doing, eventually, which was trying to clinch a sale.

  3. Some other countries have elevated this to an art form, (See if you can guess which one I am thinking of) adding the following flourishes:

    If a customer asks if you have / know / can find out anything, answer as harshly and dismissively as possible a short “No!”. Do not offer anything else.

    If turning your back on the customer and walking away is not possible do one of the following –
    1)Strike up a conversation with someone(anyone) whilst still staring the customer out.
    2) Call a colleague over and do (1). Then discuss the customer in their face. If you can be racist, sexist (any other ‘ist) you get more points.
    3) Pick up the phone, adopt beligerant face, complete (2).

    If you are offering a service which is restricted to certain times, ensure that the service times are also covered by a whole office coffee/lunch break. Lock the door and make enough noise to show the customer that you are in but cannot be disturbed.

    At all times remember you are doing the customer a favour by being there and allowing them to talk to you; Practice adopting a face in the mirror which clearly states “I am here but I am not going to engage with you”. DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM – THEY WILL CORRUPT YOU.

  4. David,
    Highly amusing and ironic but,sadly, very close to the knuckle- especially in the retail industry.
    Interestingly if one reverses the key points( e.g spend time understanding and analysing the Customer and their business, undertake effective preparation etc) one distils the key ingredients of making an effective sale.
    What is even more astonishing is that today more information on customers is available than ever before-the trick is to understand.
    Thought provoking!

  5. I agree that all those cringe worthy examples of how not to sell exist in todays world. Try buying something expensive like a house or a car (estate agents and car sales people excel in this domain).I wonder if those people who “enjoy” these spcial talents ever take a step back and wonder why they fail to get on or never make their targets.

    One bit of advice that is missing as to why people are missing the mark when it comes to sales is that a lot of people are just too afraid to ask? are they scared of a little word like “no” ?

  6. I was sitting with a window salesman tonight.
    He tried all the tricks in the book, like saying we have this offer as a once only etc etc….didn’t work though, because thought the guy was smarmy.
    You have to want to buy off people, otherwise your heart just isn’t in it, regardless of the product.

  7. Thanks for all your comments, advice and experiences. I think the USA are fantastic at service, especially in restaurants. Jackie – thank you. Francis – their loss. Steve – brilliant! Robert – indeed re info on customers and there is so much stuff out there on building rapport. Kevin love your last paragraph and Neil, how did you get him out of your house? (I invited one in 5 years ago and he is still here) 😉

  8. Love the ‘do no preparation whatsoever’ for a pitch.
    Some people don’t, and yes, they fall flat on their faces.
    preparations everything.
    Love the NL Week, another to make you think.

  9. Often you see that at weddings, although there are occasions when you should just wing it.
    Some fathers actually get tied up at weddings when if they relaxed a bit they would come across far more natural.

  10. I ‘winged it’ at a meeting once and because of my natural charm, smooth delivery and knowledge on the subject there was no need for prompting cards.

  11. Love the ringing up an existing customer with no thought behind the phonecall.
    Happens so often and is a really fundamental mistake in business.
    You have to be armed with facts, knowledge and not blag calls.
    If you lose a customer it is so difficult to get them back.
    It is all about preparation.

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