The Three Most Common Mistakes Sales People Make

December 21, 2011 by  Filed under: Sales 

Most people who work in sales get into a routine way of working pretty quickly and this tends to stick for a good while. Days, weeks and months pass and before you know it, you’ve been using the same system over and over again. Now that you’ve formed this habit, how much of it is actually effective? Well if you look at the stats that say 80% of revenue within most companies comes from the efforts of 20% of the workforce in marketing and sales. This means that only about 20% of sales people are actually working in the way they should be. This doesn’t surprise me at all when I’ve witnessed some of the way certain sales people operate. So what are the three most common mistakes sales people make?

Emotional Control

Most sales people have little understanding of what “emotional intelligence” means, but they should because it’s hugely important. It’s very difficult to control your emotions in selling at the best of times but if you increase your knowledge in this area, it needn’t be so difficult. One simple example could be the way two different sales people react to losing a sale. The first sales person feels that his day is ruined by this negative result and doesn’t feel motivated for the rest of the day. The second sales person finds his own way of dealing with this disappointment and is able to carry on his day without being too affected. The difference between the two sales people is that one of them is able to manage his emotions and the other one isn’t. I personally believe that managing our emotions has a really big effect on overall sales performance and is therefore worthy of our attention

Overcoming Objections

The second big mistake I feel that sales people make is the inability to deal with customer objections effectively. Most sales people simply give up too quickly. When I was in the timeshare business I did a lot of cold calling to Marriott customers and I learnt a thing or two about overcoming objections along the way. One objection that I particularly remember was the “send me an email response.” Prospects would enthusiastically request an email with more information and when the sales person went to follow-up, the customer would no longer answer their phone. At the beginning I too sent lots of emails but it was only through attentive listening that I realised my mistake. As soon as I agreed to send an email the prospect’s mood would change significantly, they became less resistant and almost seemed relieved that they had got a result. This was probably because they didn’t want to face another decision in their busy life and preferred to postpone it indefinitely. It didn’t always mean that they weren’t interested. In fact, I still agreed to send them an email but the conversation didn’t end abruptly in the way it did in my first attempts. I continued to question them and surprisingly many of them were willing to answer my questions. By the time I had finished asking all the questions I told them that I had provided all the information that would have been in the email. This meant that I had funnelled out some of the people who weren’t interested even though some others now came up with their second objection. Excellent stuff! Give me more objections because when a person gives you a second objection they are actually often asking questions. So an objection is never an objection until you uncover it properly.

Poor Questioning

We are all creatures of habit and sales people are no exception. Most sales people have a standard set of questions to ask every prospect and they end up reciting them in true parrot fashion. If only it were that easy? Okay, it’s true that we do need to prepare a set of questions for customers but this preparation is a “continual process” that always needs to be fine-tuned. Questions also need to be adapted to different situations and different customer reactions. So preparing the questions is only half of the job. Unfortunately, most sales people prepare a set of questions and do very little beyond that. However, if you think of the questions as the foundation for the close, without the right questions the close could collapse in a heap.

I could go into a lot more detail on these three mistakes but at this point I just wanted to give food for thought which can hopefully lead to corrective action. Try and write notes to find ways of improving these areas because I can guarantee you that there isn’t one sales person out there who wouldn’t benefit from such an exercise.

David Lynch is a Sales Training Designer & Accomplished Author. He has more than 20 years experience in a variety of industries including software, insurance & hospitality. If you would like to learn more sales skills from David you can download a Free Copy of his E-book “25 Mistakes To Avoid When Selling” at

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