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Salespeople need to accept that at some point or another, they will annoy their prospect. To some extent, this reaction is unavoidable. Sales jobs partly entail convincing someone to part ways with money; this, understandably, is irritating to many people.

But what you can avoid is annoying every prospect. To do that, you need to be aware of the habits, behaviours and words that may potentially be aggravating — and deal-ending.

Back Off

“Backing off” seems like detrimental advice for salespeople but like fire needs air to burn, deals often need space to close. Once you’ve made your initial pitch to a prospect, let them know you’ll give them time to consider. Then, don’t make contact for a week. This gives them time to consider your offer and have the necessary conversations with their team. When you do reach out again, they’ll welcome your call, not roll their eyes at your persistence.

Don’t forget about listening to your prospect’s cues. If at some point in the conversation, he or she mentions that their superior is out of office for the next few days, make note of that and call back when they’ve had some time to catch up.


Make sure to treat every conversation with your prospect as such: a conversation, where both people take turns speaking and listening. Try to lighten up during these calls, and be casual and engaging. Try to act as though there’s nothing riding on your discussion; desperation can be obvious and off-putting, while a casual demeanour will help put your prospect as ease.

Vary Your Approach

If you repeatedly send emails with subject lines like “Following up,” you’re making it very easy for your prospect to ignore you. Being bombarded with the same message is annoying, not convincing. The same goes for phone calls and “Just checking in…” voicemails. If you want to stay top-of-mind without irritating your prospect, then integrate different, less direct ways of communication. Add them to LinkedIn. “Like” one of their posts on social media. Invite them to a company networking event.

Know When to Call It

It’s unfortunate, but sometimes a prospect lets you know their decision by not actually letting you know at all. “Ghosting” — when someone ceases all communication, with no explanation — isn’t unheard of in the world of sales. But a lot of salespeople refuse to accept this, and continue to bombard the prospect with calls and emails. Bad idea.

We, as salespeople, have no idea what’s happening in a prospect’s world — maybe there’s been workplace changes, or personal issues that have prevented further conversations. Or maybe not. Either way, it’s important to respect the distance. Further attempts at communication will make your prospect feel harassed, which is a surefire way to kill the possibility of future partnerships.