Avoiding Dumb Sales Mistakes

When business people hit the road on a sales trip, there is usually plenty at stake. After all, there is only so much you can do virtually (even if it seems as if that is all you do); email, attachments, phone calls, and texting can get you close, but not always across the finish line. No, for that – to close the deal – you probably have to go see the prospect in person.


Fortunately, my pals here at Concur make such travel a lot easier these days with Tripit, a cool tool that allows you to manage all of your trip details in one place.



So with that handled, the question then becomes how to nail the sale? While you likely know plenty about sales if you have been in business for a while, let me suggest that something to consider when you get ready to close the deal is to not only have your pitch ready, but to remember to avoid making the sorts of dumb sales mistakes that can ruin even the most sure thing, such as:



Talking too much: Natural salespeople, while usually gregarious, know when to, well, shut up. Yes, talking can create rapport, but excessive talking means two things: One, you are probably more focused on yourself than the customer, and two, you probably are not listening to their needs.



Great salespeople ask a lot of questions, and then listen to the answers.



Think about when you go to buy a car. Car salespeople, despite their tawdry reputation, are some of the best salespeople around. And when they first meet you, what is it that they do? Yep, they ask questions. By finding out what you want and how much you have to spend, they can tailor their pitch accordingly.



Trying to talk them into it: Needless to say, sales is not about talking anyone into anything. It is about discovering what your potential customers need, what “problem” it is they are trying to solve, and then showing them how your product or service solves it. 


Lacking urgency: This is a gem from Tom Hopkins. The key to making a sale NOW, he says, is, after presenting the facts and benefits of your product, to create a sense of urgency to act. This is not about being pushy, or forcing people to do something they are not ready to do. Instead, it is about showing them that procrastinating is not in their self-interest, because

  • The price will be going up, or
  • There is a limited supply, or
  • The timing works right now, or
  • The extras won’t be free next time, etc.

Not asking for the sale: Sometimes there comes a time when you have to ask for a commitment, for the sale. Some prospects simply need help making a decision, others may need to understand why they need to act now, but whatever the case, you have to know when a gentle push can make a difference. If your push is in their best interest, it will seem more helpful than pushy.

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