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4 Common Sales Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

4 Common Sales Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

Sometimes, feeling the pressure of quotas or the pursuit of a sales contest prize, sales reps fall into the trap of making mistakes they think will increase their success, but in actuality make them less effective. In this post, we present four common errors and what you can to fix those issues.

  1. You chase every lead.

    Yes, sales is a numbers game to some extent. But you have only so many hours in a day, week, month, and quarter to sell. If you’re gunning for every lead with no order of priority, your conversion rates will tank and your morale might well erode because it’s a litany of rejections.

    What to do instead:
    Follow your organization’s sales qualification process or create one of your own if one doesn’t exist. Think about the prospects that will most value your value proposition. The more work you put into qualifying, the more time you free up to pursue those leads that are legitimate opportunities. Or to put it in an aphorism: Slow down to speed up.

  2. Talking instead of listening.

    A conversation is a two-way street. But when you’re feeling the pressure to make a sale, you can fall into the habit of full-court press and talk too much – including interrupting your buyers and jumping ahead. There’s a few problems with this: 1) You’re not listening to what your customer is saying, 2) You’re probably missing key information because you’re too busy yammering, 3) The buyer might feel unheard because they can’t get a word in, and 4) You could talk your way out of a deal.

    What to do instead:
    Bluntly: Shut up. Listen. If you’re still feeling anxious, grab pen and paper and take notes on what your buyer is saying (a good practice in general, incidentally). Remember this is about the client – finding out their needs, goals, and problems – and taking the time to think about how your offerings are solutions to their pain points. Also take a few seconds to think about what you’re going to say once the buyer is done speaking. It mimics the natural flow of actual conversation until you’re able to do it instinctively.

  3. Saying yes to everything the buyer wants – no matter how inaccurate or absurd.

    No solution can be all things to all people. Even if you’re selling the premium, market leader in your industry, there’s going to be buyers who simply don’t need your offering. Or perhaps they need it delivered more quickly than you can provide. Maybe the buyer wants features you don’t have in your product line.

    But saying yes to everything – or its adjacent – being afraid to say no – brings more problems. First, it makes your offering sound too good to be true and invites skepticism. Second, if you misspeak or otherwise make an error in your eagerness to say yes, your and your company’s credibility will be destroyed.

    What to do instead:
    If there’s something you or your product can’t do, admit it, then offer up an alternative if there is one. For example, perhaps you can’t deliver the product by the end of the month with your normal logistical strategy but can at the beginning of the next month and can also offer other benefits related to their needs. Or perhaps you can expedite it for a nominal additional fee.

  4. Being too easy or quick to cave on pricing or discounts.

    Discounts are excellent – but only when used properly and with the right timing. Surrendering on price early or often puts you in a position where you’re competing on price, not on value. It also devalues your offering and reduces incentive to purchase – a factor frequently seen in the gaming industry where there’s a sizable portion of the market that will wait for a sale before buying rather than purchasing on release date or pre-ordering. Additionally, your initial quote won’t be taken seriously thereafter because the buyer knows you can be talked down.

    What to do instead:
    Delay the price conversation as long as you can – emphasize finding out the buyer’s needs and situation so you can recommend the best and most appropriate solution for them. Above all, sell on the value. Create enough value for your buyers and the odds of their negotiating over the price will diminish.

Stress and pressure are often a part of being in sales and being too focused on getting deals done can invite the above behaviors. But they also almost never lead to success. So if you recognize yourself in any of these signs, look at our advice on how to correct these issues and work on building your sales confidence back up.