At The Sales Coach Network, we have been there, done it and got the t-shirt when it comes to sales. Over many years in the game, we have fallen into all manner of traps, and sometimes we’ve ended up succeeding because we initially faltered.
In this blog post, we are going to take you through some of the most common sales mistakes and problems. We’ve made the errors, so you don’t have to. You will learn about common sales mistakes and how to avoid them, and you’ll be able to identify sales problems and solutions so that you can steer clear of the biggest sales mistakes. Nobody sets out to make mistakes, but by reading on you’ll discover the sales mistakes to avoid at all costs. And it doesn’t have to be as challenging as it may first appear. We’ll take a step-by-step approach that can inform your future sales negotiations.
Sales teams often make 15 common mistakes. If you're not getting the results you want, it will pay dividends to learn these tips on how to avoid each issue and get back on track.
Many businesses let problems with their sales departments hold them back. Knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do, so take note of these common blunders and be sure to avoid them.
Remember: if you are in sales, mistakes are bound to happen. But don't worry, there are solutions for each wrong turn. The Sales Coach Network is here to help you succeed. Download our brochure to find out more. And read on!
The 15 biggest sales mistakes we encounter are as follows:
Mistake #1: Not selling to the right people
If you are speaking to the wrong audience, you are wasting your time and energy. If you want to close a sale successfully, you’ll need to know exactly what your client needs. Offering a highly personalised and tailored solution is much more effective than giving a general, standardised pitch.
Mistake #2: Asking the wrong questions
Thoughtful questioning is the cornerstone of effective selling. The number of questions can impact the chances of closing a deal. The more questions you ask, the better you'll understand the customer. On average, top sellers ask between 10 and 14 questions during a discovery call, while an average representative asks only six. Asking more than 15 questions can offer diminishing returns, however. Instead of closing the deal, it may repel the prospect. Asking 14 questions per call isn't a secret sauce to closing the deal. Instead, focusing on the number of questions and not on their relevance is another common sales closing mistake. Start by asking personalised questions and dig deeper as the prospects reveal their problems. Closes should always be phrased as questions, not statements. This works best because questions require direct answers — statements don't. If you’re doing everything right, the odds are your prospects will share a couple of their pain points without you even having to ask. However, if it doesn’t come up naturally, you should ask questions to discover these pain points during your discovery calls.
Mistake #3: Overlooking business opportunities
If your prospect presents you with an opportunity, it is your job to snap it up. Preparing in advance for a sales call is a must. When not preparing or following a defined sales call structure, your salespeople are offering an inconsistent experience for your customers. Additionally, your team might be ill-prepared for the call, which could hurt the customer’s trust so that their pitch comes across as generic.
Mistake #4: Relying on scripts
Though there might be tried and tested lines that you can trot out, it is a far better idea to take an individualised approach to your sales call. Businesspeople like numbers, not promises. Metrics and buzzwords mean nothing to most professionals, unless they can clearly see how it impacts the bottom line. Using general statements to describe your services is far less effective than providing examples. Phrasing your pitch by saying: “Last month we increased revenue by 70%” is superior to “we can help increase revenue.”
Mistake #5: Not having the right mindset
When you are selling, you need to have your head in the game. Talk to anybody you know, and they'll tell you what they dislike the most in a salesperson – the pushiness. Salespeople can have a poor reputation for being aggressive and pushy during sales. Don't be a seller that you can't tolerate yourself. Understand the pain points, pitch the solution and wait. Give your prospect time to consider what's right for them. Remember to let them know that you're open to any question they might have.
Mistake #6: Having a lack of confidence
Do you feel inexperienced? Do you feel you lack the skills required to sell well? There is only one real way to learn and that is by doing. You can build your confidence over time, and each interaction will build your knowledge. Closing sales are driven by two things — need and timing. If a need is great, but other priorities are more important, your deal will get pushed aside. Additionally, if a need is great, but the prospect doesn’t understand why they need to address it right now, your deal will also get sidelined.
Mistake #7: Lacking in empathy and understanding
Lack of empathy can ruin a sale. You will no doubt be focusing on your listening skills and how to interact effectively so you do not miss out on something your client is trying to communicate. When you’re trying to sell something, instinctively you want to talk a lot by passionately describing the benefits and the great features of your product, while flaunting your knowledge and pushing hard. However, this is not entirely effective. Pushy salespeople don’t go far. Considerate ones do. And when push comes to shove – you’re not the only one selling! Listen intently and ask open-ended questions. Your listening-talking ratio should be 60/40. A study* shows that top-closing professionals in B2B sales on average speak 43% of the time, allowing prospects to speak 57% of the time. A common mistake salespeople make is talking too much. When you talk more than the customer, you aren’t spending time listening to their needs.
Mistake #8: Letting your ego get in the way of a sale
Sales in the traditional sense seems like it involves big characters who like to throw their weight around. Not so! Talking about the company and its awards, milestones and features decreases the chances of moving a sale forward. It may hinder the journey and even close further conversations and opportunities. At the negotiation table, silence is your best friend. Another one of the common sales mistakes is when the salesperson talks themselves out of a deal. Their prospect is fully bought-in and ready to discuss specific terms, but the seller gets so excited that they keep going. This introduces doubt to the buyer's mind.
Mistake #9: Not knowing your products and services
You need to educate yourself about what you are selling and be able to handle any associated questions that might come your way. It is a common impulse to bombard prospective sales with all the information you have at once. But nine times out of 10, you may land up losing a customer due to your aggressive sales pitch. When you talk too much on a call, people tend to lose interest. The prudent move is to lure the customer into revealing their pain points in their own time and offering viable value.
Mistake #10: Not being able to engage with prospects
Prospect engagement is key; you are not going to get anywhere if you neglect this. Hearing ‘no’ from a customer or prospect can be very discouraging to a sales team. This is the last thing that your team members want to hear on a call. A common mistake salespeople make when hearing no, or a differing opinion from a prospect, is giving up or counting that sale out. Don’t fall into this trap.
Mistake #11: Waiting too long to ask for the sale
Sure, the sale is about the journey, but always be mindful of the destination, and think hard about how you are going to get there. As a salesperson, you might be drawn to boast about all the features your product or service has. The problem is, it’s not going to make a sale. Instead of describing the bells and whistles, you’d better focus on how your product can solve the most critical problems your prospect is trying to tackle. Instead of describing what seminars, workshops and employee-development handbooks you can offer, you are better off explaining how your consultancy can help decrease staff turnover and increase quarterly KPI achievement rates. The solution that you offer here is a straightforward and obvious benefit that will urge your prospects to buy. It’s important to understand that your prospects are not that interested in how you do it – they are interested in what you can do. To sum up: features tell, benefits sell!
Mistake #12: Not spending time building meaningful relationships
What is a meaningful relationship? One built on trust and integrity – this is the only way you are going to be able to progress your sale. You can’t just sell to anyone. To close a deal, you need to communicate with the people who are qualified to make a purchasing decision. Otherwise, you will simply waste your time. A winning salesperson puts a lot of thought into how to propel a sale forward. While ending the call, they discuss next steps and guide the prospect along the buyer's journey. Negotiating with the wrong people is a critical sales mistake to avoid because it is a waste of time as a representative. They won’t be able to tell you if a decision can be made or what it will be. Bring in all necessary stakeholders and bring them up to speed on your progress thus far before you start talking about pricing and terms. This will help close your sales with the right people at the table.
Mistake #13: Selling against the competitor instead of yourself
It doesn’t matter what the other team is doing. Focus on yourself and what you have to offer. There is no need to give the time of day to your competitor or their possible activities. You cannot influence their strategy, only yours.
Mistake #14: Forgetting that selling is a long-term game
First impressions count but sales are won and lost over time, so there’s no need to rush. Instead of over-promising, let the prospects sell to themselves. You can do it by asking the right questions that’ll gently push the prospect in the right direction. In the end, they’ll convince themselves that they need your product. To make sure your prospects are pleasantly surprised, it is a good idea to under promise and over deliver. If expectations are low, but the product can do more, then prospects will be impressed with the experience they receive. This will help you win them over during the next sale stage. All in all – it's better to sell nothing than to make a dishonest sale. Because if your customers later find out about a problem you ‘forgot to mention’, you will not only lose the customer, but also your reputation and further sales. One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make is to ignore the quality of leads. The sales process takes time and, depending on your industry, you may have to spend up to several months working with a potential client.
Mistake #15: Neglecting sales training
We can’t make it through this list without mentioning training. Sales coaching is what we do at The Sales Coach Network, and if you are looking to sharpen your skills, you have come to the right place. Our proprietary Sales Accelerator Method is proven to boost outcomes, so why not get in touch with our team of coaches today?
We can help you win more often and win bigger. Download our brochure today to take the first step on your journey.