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The Biggest Sales Mistakes
Blog / For Sales Pros / Aug 12, 2018 / Posted by John Golden / 4312

The Biggest Sales Mistakes


Avoiding the biggest sales mistakes is crucial. Some behavior trends in the sales world are simply disastrous. They don’t work, and they only serve to waste your time and push clients towards the competitors. This article explores some concrete steps salespeople can take to avoid sales mistakes and utilize more successful behaviors.

Obvious Sales Mistakes:

There are a few obvious sales mistakes that should entirely be avoided. Making assumptions is one of the biggest mistakes that people make. They assume familiarity too soon. There is a trend towards making connections, but connections have to be earned. You won’t lose points for being too polite and respectful, but you might for being overly friendly. Additionally, some salespeople assume they know the answers to questions, instead of understanding every situation is different and gathering specific information for each situation. Impatience is another obvious mistake. Just because technology allows you to reach people a bit more quickly, you still have to earn the right to tell your story and nurture that relationship. Another huge mistake that salespeople make is focusing too much on themselves and the product and ignoring the client and the client’s needs.

  • The shortcut culture has created an environment where people don’t want to do the hard work to establish connections with buyers. Put in the time and work to develop relationships and prove your worth before getting overly friendly or moving too quickly.
  • Make it about the client and what the client needs.

Less Obvious Sales Mistakes:

One of the less obvious mistakes that people make is being too rigid, and sticking to their plans and processes too tightly when the situation calls for more flexibility. Be confident enough in yourself to be present, so that you can completely let go of the agenda if it is called for. Too many people stick to what they know and don’t adapt when problems come up, which often leads to missed opportunities. Another less obvious, but still a common mistake, is when salespeople insult the decisions that their prospect made. For example, if they decide to entertain one of your competitors, or they just bought a competitive software, a salesperson might make a quip like, “well, good luck with that.” Regardless of if you think the prospect made a bad decision or not, the worst thing you can do is insult the choice. People take it personally. It damages the rapport and diminishes the chances of that buyer connecting with you in the future.

  • Be present and in the moment with the customer in the conversation, and change course if needed.
  • Find a way to make the buyer feel good about the decisions that they’ve made and the decision to move forward.
  • Be clear about what you are asking and what you are asking for.

Identifying Sabotaging Behaviors:

Not paying attention to image and brand is one of the fastest ways to sabotage yourself. We say so much about ourselves before we ever open our mouths. How your organization appears online, and the things that you say when people look you up, must be congruent with what you present. When they do meet with you, are you the very image of what your selling and what you stand for? If not, you could be demonstrating inconsistency and are confusing your prospect. Think beforehand about being the best you can be. Deliver value, ask the right questions, listen to the answers without judgment, and help the buyers make progress. Be there to serve your customer.

  • If your actions don’t align with your desires, you self-sabotage.
  • It’s not just the words that come out of your mouth that influence image. How you present yourself before you even meet with the prospect is crucial.
  • Many salespeople think that they are there to sell the prospect something, but they should be thinking about how they can help them.

The Sales Managers Role:

One of the most important things that a sales manager can do to help their team notice and avoid mistakes is to be actively involved and listening in real time to what is going on. Roleplay techniques, which have mostly gone by the wayside, can also be useful for salespeople. This allows the sellers to make mistakes in the roleplay, versus on a call with an actual client. Professional sports players practice, musicians practice, but salespeople don’t practice before they make the pitch. Also, sales managers need to give good, constructive feedback on the results of the roleplay. There is no such thing as the perfect sales call, but roleplaying or listening to a sales call allows the salespeople to get feedback on what they could do better.

  • Understand what is happening so that you can help your reps spot things to do the next time they make a call.
  • Learn how to correct mistakes beforehand using roleplaying instead of making mistakes in front of the buyer when it matters.

Top Tips:

  • Call on your existing customers more. Expand and deepen and add value to the relationships that they already have before going out and finding new prospects. We’re so ingrained to chasing new business. In a world where the customer experience and your reputation in the marketing place are everything, make sure that your current contacts are well taken care of and are advocating for you.
  • Learn more, and commit to personal development. Form the habit of devoting time every day to listening to a podcast or reading to improve.
  • Read one book on sales per month, and you’ll be much further ahead in the game after each book you finish.

Information for this article was sourced from our top sales professional panel discussion, hosted by John Golden, featuring the expert opinions of Andy Paul, Barbara Giamanco, and Meridith Elliott Powell.

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About Author

John is the Amazon bestselling author of Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World’s Greatest Military Victories and Social Upheaval: How to Win at Social Selling. A globally acknowledged Sales & Marketing thought leader, speaker, and strategist, he has conducted over 1500 video interviews of thought leaders for Sales POP! online sales magazine & YouTube Channel and for audio podcast channels where Sales POP! is rated in the top 2% of most popular shows out of 3,320,580 podcasts globally, ranked by Listen Score. He is CSMO at Pipeliner CRM. In his spare time, John is an avid Martial Artist.

Author's Publications on Amazon

John Golden, best selling author of "Winning the Battle for Sales" presents "Social Upheaval: How to Win At Social Selling" to explain how every B2B salesperson can add social selling methods to their toolkits, and why it is so important that they do so without…
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FROM THE CREATORS OF SPIN SELLING―TRIED-AND-TRUE STRATEGIES TO ARM YOU IN THE WAR FOR SALES SUPREMACY "I distinctly remember my first VP talking about 'campaigns' and 'targets.' Indeed, successful salespeople have made learning from military tactics an important aspect of their careers. In this engaging…
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