Cup of Copy: Creepiness

There is a thin line between a personable sales person and the creepy guy who knows delicate information about you, and that line can mean the difference between a sale and a restraining order. This is a small margin of error so tread lightly for professional (and legal) reasons.

Don’t Facebook Creep

If you don’t know what it means to Facebook creep on somebody, you’ve probably been a victim of it in the past. Facebook creeping consists of looking through comments or pictures or statuses of someone who you barely know or have had limited contact with over a long period of time. Facebook creeps do not leave their creeping to just recent items: the creep level goes up exponentially if this is a photo or status from 2009 or earlier.

creepyAn example of a friendly comment not construed as creepy would be one on a company outing, a creepy comment would be about the dinner you had on Friday night with a significant other.

Facebook creeping takes on a new life when you’re talking to somebody in person. Say you go to the beach on the weekend and post photos on Facebook, and then somebody asks how your beach trip was when you see them in person. I consider this creepy because I didn’t divulge this information to them personally but rather put it on Facebook for closer friends to see.

Oftentimes salespeople try to find a common link to the person they are pitching to by using social media, but mentioning something too personal crosses the line of creepiness. Stalking someone online before you meet them in person is creepy, just in case you were wondering.

Personal Space

In Person

This is limited into the in-person sales pitch or meeting. Comfort can be completely obliterated by breaking into one’s personal bubble, to the point of ruining a sale. Take the “Close Talker” for example:

When you are put off balance by the “Close Talker” you may tend to end the conversation or meeting early because of this discomfort.

Also, physical contact like resting a hand on someone’s shoulder or arm can quickly cross the creepy line. What you might consider a comforting move they might find awkward and uncomfortable.

Online

The web version of the “Close Talker” is the person who doesn’t know the appropriate distance from their face to set up the web cam. On a Skype call this can be just as disconcerting. Although you are interested in what the person on the other side of the conference call has to say, you aren’t interested in their nose hair.

TommyHeather’s monologue from the Blair Witch Project is a great example of close talking via video. If she was on the other end of a Skype call, you would want to end it as fast as possible. No matter what the person is saying, that close of a video angle makes other people uncomfortable in a hurry.

Eye Contact

In Person

During a pitch, eye contact can make or break a sale. Eye contact can convey confidence in oneself and the product being sold. If the person talking to me is staring at anything but my face then I think of one of two things: they are lying to me or they think that I am ugly. And I know that I am not ugly.

Conversely, 100% eye contact also brings the creep-factor. The Wall Street Journal recommends maintaining eye contact for 7-10 seconds at a time. Anything more than 10 seconds will make people uncomfortable.

shutterstock_24568963Either way, I am not going to buy anything and will try to get out of this encounter as quickly as possible. Honestly, the easiest way creep me out is to be looking at anything but my dreamy eyes when I’m talking.

Online

If you make video calls often for webinars or meetings, eye contact is imperative your success. Eye contact during a video conference can be just as important as a conference in person. If the person on the other end isn’t looking into the camera, it gets uncomfortable. It also makes you look distracted. What is so exciting on your computer screen that’s making you ignore me?

In Short…

Making sure that you do not come off creepy is something important in business and life. Do not lose sales because you are overly friendly and have done too much research on your sales target – or perspective friend.

Actually, don’t research your friends at all. Learning what they like and dislike should happen naturally.

About the author

Tommy Wyher