It’s been quite some spring in Toronto where I live. Snow in April! Rain for days! Nearly hurricane force thunderstorms! So I wasn’t surprised when my neighbours decided it was time to fix their wet, leaky basement. They’ve talked about doing it for quite some time. However, to fix the problem, the contractor had to dig out their basement, which affected the shared space between our houses. It also meant they would need to remove the specially designed stepping-stones on my walkway. All seemed to go well until the end of the job when I went to make sure that the stepping-stones were back in the right place. The contractor, noticing me checking the walkway, came over to tell me that, “by the way,” he’d moved my downspout. He placed the end section in a different location so the water wouldn’t run into my neighbours’ part of the shared space.

Being told this was a little like having a passer by mention he’d repainted part of my house because he preferred a different colour. (Not to mention it implied that my downspout was the cause of my neighbor’s problem, which it wasn’t.) I was astonished and somewhat dismayed that he would change something on the exterior of my house without first asking for my consent — he wasn’t working for me, after all. And then, to add insult to injury, he went on to “mansplain” how moving the downspout was in my own best interest. And now, I even had a new downpipe, for which he’d give me a bargain, charging me a mere $50.

At this point I had to “womansplain” a few things to him! That A), he hadn’t consulted me and B), I wasn’t going to pay him for anything I hadn’t asked for, and C), my neighbours and I are on great terms, and I would discuss it with them.

The wrongheaded way he went about doing business completely got my back up. On the other hand, his behaviour was so over-the-top that it occurred to me it was a perfect example of how not to sell your services. (Rest assured I did not hand him fifty dollars.) And it inspired me to create the following checklist.

How Not to Sell Your Services, in Three Easy Steps

1.) Build Bad Relationships:
You’ve probably heard that good business relationships are built on making a human connection first. Forget about that! It’s too much hassle. Besides, building bad business relationships is much easier to do. Begin by making sure you know nothing about your client. Why bother? Who needs to waste that kind of time?

2.) Ignore Customer Needs:
Don’t look for solutions for your customer’s needs, even if the person insists on telling you what her/his needs are. Instead, look for answers to your own problems. Then, tell the customer that you know what’s best for her/him (which, coincidentally, helps you with one of your problems). If necessary, bulldoze the customer into doing what you want.

3.) Win Arguments (or Die Trying):
Make sure to have rigid policies in place that you will not back down on. Always over-promise and under-perform. Then, refer to the rigid policy that backs up your under-performance. If required, use negative instead of positive language to try and intimidate. When it doubt, rely on apathy and/or simply stop answering emails or phone calls.

Of course, that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to how not to sell your services. If you’d like to find out more ways to offend clients, refer to my previous blog posts:
1.) How Not to Communicate in Business: Five Ways to Offend Your Clients

2.) The Ripple Effect of Bad Customer/Client Service

3.) Communication Breakdown: You’re Fired

In all seriousness though, what is to be hoped for in any business relationship is the exact opposite behaviour suggested by my tongue-in-cheek three point checklist. What you really want to strive for is to understand your clients, meet their needs, and have honest, respectful communication. So, my final piece of advice is that if you really want to sell your services make sure to ignore the advice in my “How Not to Sell Your Services” three-point plan!

For more tips on how to make a negative business situation positive, click here to read The Language Lab’s latest Biz Tips on How to Deliver Bad News.

And if you need help with your business relationships? Contact me at The Language Lab.


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