12 Most Egregious Sales Mistakes

12 Most Egregious Sales Mistakes


Many of us are in sales, whether it’s actually part of our job description or title. Even if you don’t sell products or services, you still need to sell your ideas and yourself.

Avoid these mistakes and you’ll close more sales and open more doors.

1. Forgetting to turn off your mobile devices

You’re there to ask for action, such as a decision or a purchase. Your attention needs to be squarely on the people in your meeting. It’s poor form to get distracted by pings and rings. It’s even poorer form to answer calls, texts or emails.

2. Not listening

You can start to correct this huge mistake by stopping this: talking

3. Making assumptions about needs, wants or capacity

This tends to happen most when a salesperson is listening the least. Selling is much easier if you know what the customers want. Don’t assume. Ask. They’ll tell you.

4. Not knowing, inside and out, what you’re selling

Do your homework or you’ll fail the test — and lose the sale. You know questions are coming, so make sure you’ve memorized the answers to them.

5. Underplaying value or benefits

Knowing all about what you’re selling is essential, but you also need to convey that convincingly and compellingly. Make sure your audience knows why they just can’t pass up this deal.

6. Not knowing when “no” really means “maybe”

Tune your antenna and watch for clues in the tone of voice or in the body language of the person who is hedging. In some cases, another example or piece of information might get them to “yes.” But…

7. Not knowing when “no” really does mean “no”

…not always. It’s a big mistake to keep pushing and pushing when the decision is no and it’s final. Graciously accept the verdict and try again next time.

8. Trying to talk the customer into the sale

Other options, such as presenting something different that fits the bill, are much more effective.

9. Focusing only (or mostly) on price

A competitive price is fine, as far as things go. But touting just that gives you nothing to stand on if a competitor undercuts you. Mention price, if it’s a selling point. But make your case on the benefits, value and other aspects that differentiate your offerings.

10. Avoiding, or forgetting to ask for, the sale

Being personable and developing relationships with customers are important, but you must still close the deal. To do that, you’ve got to ask for the action you want to happen. Sounds simple. But it’s a very common, and very big mistake.

11. Failing to ask for a referral

This is similar to #10, but in some ways, it’s an even bigger blooper. When you get the sale, you’ve won. You’ve got ’em on your side. So ask for the names of three other people who would also like the value or benefits your now-satisfied customer received from you.

12. Not following up with leads

You just never know where business can come from. Be ready. And when you get a lead — especially when you tell someone you’ll be following up — make sure you do.

I’ve done a lot of selling over the years. And I think it’s fun. Do you love it or hate it? Why?

Featured image courtesy of mackarus licensed via Creative Commons.

Becky Gaylord


Becky worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C.; Sydney, Australia; and Cleveland, Ohio for major publications including the New York Times, Salon.com, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, and was Associate Editor of the Plain Dealer's Editorial Page before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. The company helps clients improve their external relations and communication and increase their influence and impact. Becky blogs about that (a few other things) at Framing What Works.

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