I’m Not Your “Buddy”

Aug 10, 2015 | Sales Blog

Your prospects aren’t your “buddy” either.

buddyThe margin of victory in any competitive sales situation, as well as the margin of defeat, is so slim that even the slightest mistake, or misstep, can spell the difference between gaining your buyer’s trust and confidence, or losing the deal.

Unfortunately, I personally am witnessing one glaring mistake being repeated over and over again by otherwise well-meaning sales reps. It may seem trivial on the face of it. But, I can assure you that you shouldn’t ignore this.

The problem is that of forced, or pre-mature, casualness in conversation with prospects. It’s sales reps who end their first conversation with you with “Ok, buddy, thanks for your time.” Or, “Thanks, pal. When should we talk next?”

“Buddy? Pal?” I can assure you that your prospects are not your buddy. An insincere “Buddy” strikes a discordant note that grates like nails on a chalkboard.

Imagine that you’ve just had a promising discussion with a potential prospect. You’re feeling pretty good about the next steps and and then you dissipate the momentum you’ve generated by injecting a false intimacy into the relationship that doesn’t exist. It definitely makes it more difficult to build trust with a prospect because they recognize your insincerity and suddenly put up their defenses in a way that they wouldn’t have been before.

So, why did you say it? If you didn’t mean it, and it was just a throwaway line, wouldn’t it have been better to just to not say it?

This is a guy thing
This is not a generational issue. (All generations seem to be equal opportunity offenders). However, it is a gender issue. It’s a guy thing. And, based on my own recent experiences and observations, it’s getting out of control.

I’m a business owner and I am on the receiving end of a lot of calls from salespeople, most of them sales development reps. Based on my informal tracking, at least 30% of the male sales reps I speak with are guilty of using “buddy,” “pal” or similar term during the first call. (I never realized I had so many friends!)

On the other hand, I’ve never once had a female sales rep say this to me. My wife assures me that is due to women generally having a more highly evolved emotional intelligence that is more attuned to how words are used and received. And, I have to agree.

Habitual casualness breeds habitual carelessness.
Sales is a profession where getting the details right is important. Being successful in sales over a career requires you to be thoughtful and deliberate about the actions that you take each and every time you interact with a potential customer.

If you’re casual, and on auto-pilot, with your choice of words that you use with prospects, then your prospects can’t be faulted for assuming that casualness would bleed over into everything you do.

Sales is a discipline and it’s a craft. It allows for creativity and uniqueness in how you interact with your prospects. However, it’s in the details of how you exercise your craft that will set you apart from your competitors in the eyes of your buyers.

If you knew that the margin of victory in any sales deal was 1%, that you only had to be 1% better than the alternative to win a deal, wouldn’t you willingly consign “buddy” to the dustbin if that helped you win more deals? So, why haven’t you?

Excise Buddy from your life
Here’s a simple way to say goodbye to ‘buddy’ and ‘pal’ and remove them from your sales lexicon. During your next sales call, when you feel that temptation to blast a “buddy” on a prospect, use their first name instead.

First, this demonstrates that you actually were listening when they introduced themselves. Sometimes, in the excitement of actually getting through on the phone to a prospect, or actually getting into to a meet a prospect, it can be easy to forget the name of the person you’re talking with. Instead of saying something like “Ok, buddy, thanks for your time” wrap up with the prospect by saying “Andy, thanks for your time today.”

Second, using the prospect’s name is a small starting step in establishing an authentic connection with the person you are dealing with. At the end of a good sales call, it’s an inclusive gesture and can help to cement the foundation of the relationship you want to build with the prospect.

“Buddy” is anonymous. It’s an unthinking, unconscious, throw-away mannerism that has no value in a sales interaction. And, if it has no value, why are you saying it to a prospect?

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