Drawbacks to overselling and how to circumvent them | Sunday Observer

Drawbacks to overselling and how to circumvent them

2 October, 2022

Overselling is one of the key reasons enthusiastic salesmen lose their good selling opportunities. When a salesman oversells, not only does the buyer get suspicious about the over-keen attitude, but it also gives reason for them to pause and question whether they are paying too much, or if the product is more than what they need. Simultaneously, the salesman may unknowingly create over-expectations in buyers’ minds.

In any type of business communication, offering too much information can spoil the smooth flow of the process. Investopedia says that overselling occurs when a salesman continues his or her sales pitch after the customer has already decided to make a purchase. They say that not only will this annoy the customer, but he or she will potentially change the buying decision.

In the early days of my long career in sales, a trainer whom I remember fondly even after many years taught us the old adage “No one likes to be sold, but they like to buy.”The saying is literally, psychologically, and realistically the truth, and throughout my career, I have completely believed this and followed it to the letter.

Each of us has been on the receiving end of an over-enthusiastic sales pitch somewhere down the line in our lives. Even in the 50s, the dramatic quote in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” suggests that the “back-slapping, joke-telling, cigar-smoking salesman” concept did not work. The old ways of relaxed, jovial, and casual attitudes certainly would not work with today’s well-informed and more educated customers with endless and easily accessible information. The information flow in the internet era has completely changed the selling game.

The sales professional’s job undoubtedly has evolved tremendously during the past twenty years. It has become more complex than ever. Although the salesman’s learning process and research ability have also improved tremendously, the competition has also become equally or fiercer with the information available freely and easily. Unlike in the pre-internet period, the customer can have comparisons in minutes and make his buying decision wisely.

Overselling can change the entire effort of the salesman negatively. The lengthy process he/she has undergone to make the customer decide on the product or service can go down the drain if the salesman utters one single wrong word. In my personal experience, I can confidently state that any professional salesman, including myself, has gone through this gruesome experience, perhaps more than once.

Theoretically and practically, selling is about identifying customer needs and satisfying them. An oversold presentation or a chat with a data dump can make customers presume that the salesman is out of touch and that he/she does not understand their real needs. This outdated sales approach not only alienates customers, but it is also one of the quickest ways to lose future sales prospects.

By using an overselling pitch, the salesperson may run the risk of overwhelming the customer. Even when the salesperson is aware of the actual needs of their client, they continue to barrage them with further features, advantages, and benefits, perhaps repeatedly re-presenting the same content.

Out of enthusiasm, even experienced salesmen make this mistake, most often because of the fear of losing the sale. Customarily, one of the biggest common reasons for losing sales is the fear of closing. Hence, salesmen tend to keep talking incessantly.

Throwing everything at your customer, relevant and irrelevant, can be confusing and distracting. Pulling attention away from what you have already offered to satisfy their needs may be a good enough reason to lose the deal. Therefore, it is best to maintain simplicity and limit your sales pitch only to pertinent features, advantages, and benefits. As a universal rule, at the first buying sign of the customer to finish, you must close the deal and walk away promptly.

The risk of losing momentum in a sales presentation due to overstretched talking is another disastrous negative factor. Every effective sales encounter has a sense of momentum because each piece of information you provide contributes to a commitment that will eventually be made. Therefore, the salesman must learn to manage the tempo of the rhythm that is established throughout the conversation.

Imagine how annoying overselling can be for you when you are a customer yourself. If the salesperson rumbles nonstop about the details, it can be a nuisance if you either are not interested or have already made your decision to buy. Similarly, the buyers will not be overwhelmed by the depth of the salesperson’s expertise or knowledge.

Check out how it feels when the beat is off. It’s annoying. And it’s the same thing you do when you rattle on about the advantages or benefits of a feature that your buyer might not be interested in. The buyer won’t be wowed by the depth of your product expertise; instead, they’ll probably feel overloaded and distracted by the unnecessary details. The distraction caused by the salesperson’s continuous blabbering may take the conversation further away, and it may be difficult to get it back on track.

Obviously, the customers are much better informed now than they were a few years back. Yet, there are many things they may not know or are less informed about your products. This is why companies still direly need productive and performing salesmen. A good salesman may find more than enough points of difference when it comes to his own products.

However, if the salesman continues to oversell, there is a huge risk of running out of his cards. The crucial details about the product or service must be presented to the customer in a time-sensitive manner. Professional salesmen reveal the price flexibilities, promotions, or extra benefits in a gradual process ideal for each situation and depending on the type of customer. They keep the element of surprise until the right time.

As described earlier in the article, almost all salesmen are guilty of overselling at some point in their careers. This can come due to reasons such as overenthusiasm, stressful situations, competition, fear of closing, or inexperience. As salespeople are comfortable with their own products, overselling can come out instinctively as a natural inclination.

Therefore, sales professionals must bear in mind that the value of an object is subjective to the person who comes across it. What you see as important may not be important to the customer who is interacting with you. Hence, if you talk about things that are not important to him/her as he/she sees it, you may be creating animosity.

For example, even if you provide a customer with important additional information, if he/she does not show interest, you must stop providing them with such information unless and until they ask. The salesman must never assume the customer’s real needs but must ask questions and realistically find them out.

Finally, the salespeople, without throwing everything in their arsenal at the customer, must take time to engage customers to find out what is important to them and what interests them. The reason is that the customer’s need is the ultimatum.

Therefore, salesmen must practise restraint in communicating and producing relevant information only when it is required.

If the buyer has given a signal that he/she has made the buying decision, the salesman must refrain from providing any additional information that could prolong the conversation. Such occurrences can lead to unwanted complexities. Therefore, the salesman must try to close at the first instance, get the order confirmed and walk away.