Are You Making Your Prospect Uncomfortable?A female friend called me recently to tell me a story.

She had arrived home from work around dusk. As she approached her house, she noticed two men walking through the neighborhood. She pulled into her driveway, opened her garage door, and parked in the garage.

As she exited her car, the two men approached her driveway and began their spiel. They were selling home repair services and wanted to talk with her about her house. She told them it wasn’t a good time for her, but they kept walking up the driveway, talking as if she hadn’t said anything.

She stated firmly that it was getting dark and she wasn’t comfortable talking with them then and there. They continued to close in on her, reciting their sales pitch. It wasn’t until she threatened to call the police that the two salesmen finally turned around.

Needless to say, after that experience, my friend is never buying anything from them. In fact, she has talked with her neighbors, and now none of them will consider buying from this company.

This might be the best home repair company in the country, using the best quality supplies and the most skilled labor. But it doesn’t matter because their clueless salespeople made her feel so uncomfortable that she never wants any contact with them ever again.

Are you—or your salespeople—making your prospects uncomfortable? It’s easy to do because we forget that other people are not necessarily comfortable with what we’re comfortable with. So be wary of these potential triggers:

Many people find profanity offensive. And even many who use profanity among their friends or family don’t approve of using it in a business situation. Also, avoid sexual innuendo and double entendres. This is a sales call, not a nightclub.

Dirty jokes, ethnic jokes, blonde jokes, etc.—avoid them all. What you do with your buddies is one thing. What you do with prospects and clients is another thing altogether.

Body Language
Are your arms crossed? Are you leaning over your prospect? Do you have your feet up on something they shouldn’t be resting on?

Facial Expressions
Is your facial expression warm and friendly, or cold and dour? Or alternatively, are you undressing the other person with your eyes?

The line between professional and casual gets more blurred by the day. Err on the side of professionalism. You can always loosen your tie or remove your jacket if you perceive you’re overdressed. And be sure your outfit isn’t too sexy for a business situation.

Physical Distance
Getting too close to someone can evoke a response ranging from mild anxiety to sheer terror. Keep your distance. Exactly how much depends on the culture. But better to be too far than too close.

Acting like you didn’t hear what the prospect said, insulting a competitor, dismissing a prospect’s concerns or priorities, failing to do what a prospect asks, or doing something without their permission all raise red flags in your prospect’s mind.

Foreign Language
Using a language your prospect doesn’t speak causes them to immediately distrust you. Use only the language they know best, or have an interpreter translate everything you say.

People don’t want to deal with a salesperson who looks or smells bad. Get some honest feedback about your appearance and body odors. And if you smoke, quit.

Being pushy, impatient, disrespectful, demanding, or loud will cause prospects to run in the opposite direction.

People don’t buy when they’re uncomfortable, anxious, distrustful, or scared. The buy when they’re comfortable, confident, and excited. Everything you—and your sales team—say and do either increases your prospect’s comfort and confidence level or erodes it. Make sure all of your words and actions do the former and not the latter.