You know what red flags do. They give you advance warning of a dangerous situation. It’s at your peril if you ignore the danger. You may be missing a few red flags for customers and other people you work with. Here are some red flags that I advise my clients to pay attention to so they can get better sales results.
Too much “I” and not enough “We.”
Listen to how people explain situations to you when they describe their involvement. I worked with one engineer and had you not known the situation, you would have arrived at a very different conclusion. Every successful action he discussed was an “I did” statement. Yes, I’m sure he did do some things that were successful, but everything? That was unlikely. Yet, he took credit for every success. That’s a red flag.
These “I” people are a problem on two levels. First, when they take credit for other people’s work they’re being dishonest. Dishonesty is a major flaw in business and especially in sales. Why would you trust someone who is dishonest? Secondly, their perspective shows an incredible lack of awareness of others and what they do contribute. This low emotional intelligence is a red flag in selling since being emotionally intelligent is an important factor that contributes to sales success. “I” people don’t build relationships that are so useful in selling. They prevent them from forming because no one wants to join them.
They make private information public.
Listen for how people give compliments. There’s one compliment that is a clear red flag for me. I’ve heard people think they’re giving a powerful compliment by saying, “He’s a good Christian.” I wonder how the person complimenting knows how good a Christian the person really is. It is inappropriate if the person being complimented is talking about his religious beliefs and actions to create that conclusion. One’s religion should be a private matter. It’s problematic if the person making the statement thinks it’s appropriate to bring religion into business.
Religious conversations are not really appropriate for business. Keep religious discussions out of business. Just be reasonable. I do think it’s acceptable to wish other people a Merry Christmas. It is a national holiday after all.
They talk about other people.
I distinguish between gossip and competitive or business information. Discussing changes in an organization chart is not the same thing as discussing a co-worker’s divorce. Watch out for people who are experts on other people’s personal life. It’s not only a violation of keeping information private. It’s showing other people that gossip is their currency of choice in business. It doesn’t really serve a purpose other than to provide a temporary diversion for the listener who probably doesn’t have enough to do.
There’s another reason why you should be guarded with gossips. Do you wonder if they’re talking about you? They probably are. It’s best to avoid them if possible. Keep your personal information to yourself. You don’t want to be the subject of one of their broadcasts.
They don’t do what they say they will.
People occasionally mess up. Those who do occasionally are not the people that raise red flags. The ones who do are the ones who repeatedly talk about what they will do and then never do it. Why do they raise a red flag? You can’t rely on them and they are harder to work with. Think about your work in sales. You often have to depend on other people. You need the credit department to function in its area so bills are accurate and customers get credit. Operations does its job to deliver your product. Manufacturing makes the product on time and on spec. Someone who promises and then doesn’t deliver just created a problem for you and your customer. Problems and especially unnecessary ones can often result in lost business. Unreliable prospects create the problem of being much more time consuming to sell to.
Beware of unreliable people and try to find someone else to work with. You will have many problems to deal with if you don’t.
These red flags have always been ones I’ve tried to manage or avoid. You should, too. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you spot these red flags in sales.