Think about it: Would you show open disrespect to your prospects, customers and clients? If you did, how long would you stay in business? Would they accept open contempt from you and still buy your products and services?

Your gut answer might be, "No, of course not. I'm never inconsiderate to the people who come to my store." But you'd be surprised by just how common, and how easy it is, for salespeople to fall into the trap that is being discourteous to their customers. Let's walk through how it happens.

Disrespecting prospects

How is disrespect openly shown to prospects? It happens when their opinions and input are either not invited, disregarded or not considered when provided. It also happens when they are constantly pushed into making decisions they're not prepared to make. It happens every time we give boring presentations because its "easier" (AKA: lazier) to adjust them to the wants, needs and desires of our prospects.

Disrespecting customers

Say a customer came in and bought a hot tub. You listened to their needs and sold them a product. Even then, it's still possible to disrespect your customers.

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How? It happens when we abandon them after the sale. We fail to keep in touch with them and build a lasting relationship, which shows them they were just another sale or commission to us — another "notch on our belt," so to speak. It also justifies the negative paradigms and stereotypes so many of us have toward salespeople.

Another way to show disrespect is by failing to provide your customers with a continuing and skilled level of service that exceeds their every expectation. It arises out of our egotism, or a lack of respect for them and the business which they provide us. It happens when we make it all about us — it's arrogance, plain and simple.

It’s contagious

When others in your company notice this behavior, it can become infectious and spread throughout the entire organization. This is especially true if an owner, manager or someone else in a leadership position adopts this behavior as a normal way of conducting business. This negative attitude can become all-pervasive and even viewed as the in-thing to do. Peer pressure is a powerful force, even in businesses.

If management notices this behavior, but doesn't take action, it can perpetuate through weak leadership, out of fear of losing staff of out of fear of losing favor with the sales team. In any event, once others are infected, it may not be possible to reverse the impertinence that develops within the company.

Why do they continue to buy?

If this behavior is so deplorable, why do customers keep coming back? One possibility is that other companies have implemented the same methods (yes, it’s that contagious). But most likely, it’s because the prospects have already made the decision to buy the product or service that you sell and are forced to choose the least offensive business from which to make the purchase.

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However, don’t count on either of these being the case. Count on the possibility of losing their business altogether. Oh, and by the way, if they do buy from you, you can forget about the hassles of being bothered by referrals; they aren’t coming.

Turning it around

Remember the old television series "Mayberry R.F.D."? Infamous cop Bernie Fife was very fond of telling his boss Andy that when the kids misbehaved, you had to "nip it in the bud". That same wisdom applies here. Management must end this conduct immediately. Nip it in the bud, even if it means losing staff. After all, isn’t that better than losing your business?

Salespeople, don’t be affected by this technique of conducting your business, even if it's encouraged by the currently most popular or seemingly successful salespeople on your team. Instead, be positive. Treat your prospects and customers as the valuable and wonderful people that they are. Ask relevant questions to learn what your prospects really want; and not necessarily what you want to sell them. Make it all about them.