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The Five Most Common Mistakes Salespeople Make and How to Avoid Them

If you search on the Internet, you’ll find dozens of suggestions for mistakes that salespeople make. Some of them are the old standbys. Things like failing to get the prospect to reveal the budget upfront, or talking instead of listening, or failing to differentiate themselves from their competitors. You may think that these are among the most important mistakes. Maybe they are; maybe they aren’t.

It’s worth considering, however, that there are other mistakes that might be equally valid; errors that could be costing you the sale that you want. If you think that your conversions could improve, but are dissatisfied with the “old standbys”, then read on. It could be that you’re overlooking other things that you never even thought about.


Failure to ask good questions

Broadly speaking, salespeople talk a lot; too much. They don’t listen, at least not as much as they need to. Many are playing a numbers game. They reason that if they talk to enough people, they’ll make the sales they need. While there may be some truth to that, that’s a hard row to hoe. It’s much easier to get your prospects to do all the talking.

How do you do that? By asking good questions.

The questions you ask reveal a lot about you. For one thing, they demonstrate that you are more interested in what they have to say than in what you have to tell them. They also “force” your prospects to tell you their problems. And aren’t these the things that you wanted to know anyway?

The rule with questions is to keep asking them until your prospects are ready to hear what you have to say. Salespeople have a reputation for doing the opposite. They talk until prospects either interrupt them or turn off their hearing aids.


Failure to follow a proven system

The best salespeople are flexible. They understand negotiation. They know how to compromise; when they should and when it’s not necessary.

Many have a system. It may be one that they have created or one that the firm they represent has designed for them.

Problems occur, however, when they fail to follow the system; that is, they allow their flexibility to override it.

Let’s say that you usually ask your prospects to describe their current situation so that you can then ask them what impact it’s having on their bottom line. And let’s suppose that halfway through their explanation, you suddenly see how you can help them. Some salespeople won’t wait for the prospect to finish his / her story. Instead, they’ll jump in and try to make the sale.

If you have a system and it has worked for you in the past, then don’t try to second-guess its effectiveness.


Failure to prepare mentally

Nowadays, we have too many things going on. While we’re driving to our next sales call, we may be answering other calls on our Bluetooth. We may be thinking about the one we just left. If we made the sale, we could be celebrating. If we lost it, then we may be rehearsing in our minds what we should have said. The fact is, however, that we’re not thinking about the next one.

That’s where mental preparation comes in. If you are to have a chance at making a sale on the next call, then you can’t be thinking about the one you were just on; and if you’re unable to focus on it, then you might as well reschedule it for first thing on another day. That would be better than blowing it now.

If you want to sell more, more often, more easily and more profitably then prepare like crazy…


Failure to invest in yourself

You may not believe this, but even if you’re the most effective sales person to walk the face of the earth, you need to invest in yourself. There is always something to learn. You should be attending conferences such as those offered by the National Sales Association in the United States. Even if US methods are not entirely transferrable to the UK, you as a top salesperson can modify them to fit your situation; but if you don’t go, then you won’t have anything to modify.

You should be reading books, too. One per month is not excessive. Type the word “sales” into Amazon, and you’ll discover that there are nearly 300,000 titles to choose from. In a thirty-year career, you’ll only get to 360 of them.

A book or Audio Programme each month, five days training a year; invest around 10% of your income on your development – after all your knowledge and skills along with your network is your true wealth.


Failure to refer a competitor

Some salespeople are so determined to make a sale that they’ll promise to do almost anything. The fact is that you can’t do everything. You haven’t the time and you certainly don’t have the expertise. So that means that you need to identify what you’re best at and be willing to refer work that you can’t be the best at, to someone who is better than you.

If you do that, you’ll win favour with your prospects and your competitors. You’ll probably find that the latter will begin to refer business to you, as well.

Whether you’re an experienced salesperson or just starting, make sure that you don’t make these mistakes.


Remember that forewarned is forearmed.


If you want to improve your selling skills and sales results, contact me here

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