Don't Be A Face Sucking Alien

Tony Hughes


The Principle of Non-Hunger is one of the most critical strategic axioms for winning in enterprise sales cycles. Always, always maintain your cool. This is much like the relationship dynamics of dating. You can't be too interested! Just like Miles Davis reflected profoundly that the silence is often even more important than the music being played, mastering strategic pauses is a powerful sales weapon to fortify your arsenal.

You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and especially know when to run - aka qualify out that garbage in the pipeline. Remember, GIGO = Garbage in garbage out. Inflated pipelines and sales person 'happy ears' are almost a proverb in modern selling where technology is the crutch and hence why only 60% of salespeople make quota.

But this post is about something rather specific. This is about a grossly negligent group of salespeople that inadvertently snap the marlin on the line by acting too 'needy' in the crucible of the deal. Close confidently and lead the delicate dance with your business partner.

We all remember the scene in Alien when Sigourney Weaver gets trapped in the room with the baby alien that jumps up to suck her face and she narrowly escapes. This is not the tone you would ever want to set with a customer. Here are the greatest Face-Sucking Alien Violations:

  • Endless checking in or touching base via email
  • Constantly calling customers' cell phones and leaving messages that provide no accretive value
  • Over-confirming meetings
  • Sending an email every time they open the last outreach - you move from data driven business development to desperate
  • Status update or status check type communication
  • Hard-negotiating the close and then being sweet and unctuous - this reeks used car salesman and snaps the line

To be consultative, be assumptive. - Jill Konrath's Antidote

Sometimes being the most venomous snake in the outback is actually about knowing when to lay in wait versus when to strike. Once the deal is closed, knowing it has and holding a united front is paramount. Sales trainers in seminars in the olden days used to literally yell at the audience to 'Shut up!' Why? Because the sale has closed and the cardinal sin of strategic selling is a Yogi Berraism: 'Don't over-close the close.' Once they've made up their mind, don't unmake it or introduce creeping doubt by being overly urgent or smarmy. Pestering key decision makers blows deals. We get delegated down to who we sound like but we especially get delegated down to whom we act like. Leverage finesse, gravitas and oblique approaches to drive even greater value to unstick your reps' deals. If you are in the hot seat looking for that signature - command respect and act as an executive would with economy of effort, speech and veracity in your actions. Make each action count and hold them accountable to the process.

non-hunger (n.) Confidence, security and faith in your solution. Patience and sales swagger that breeds and sets the tone. Showing strength in strategic negotiations. Knowing your value and creating warranted exclusivity.

Here's how you build confidence and close elegantly:

  • Enunciate and open up your body language
  • Get the deal signed in person sitting at the board table
  • Make it easy to do business with you
  • Radiant confidence in everything that you do. It's better to fake it before you make it then to quaver. Customers smell fear and will balk.
  • Listen to audio programs on negotiation like Getting To Yes from the Harvard Negotiation Project so that you can master the art of debate.

  • Assume the sale and own the responsibility of what this is really about: execution and solving the customer's pain.
  • Always create value at every touch point!

Now it's your turn: What's your strategy for closing major deals? How do you maintain confidence? Have you put a policy in place to only touch the customer Nth times once the deal is closed to ensure you bring it in over the line?


Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published in LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony's award winning blog. Also visit Tony's keynote speaker website at or his sales methodology website at

Main image photo by Flickr: Pug 50


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