9 BIGGEST Sales Mistakes to Avoid (At All Costs)

Let me ask you a question: Do you know exactly what you’re doing correctly when you sell? Chances are, you’ve thought about your selling strong-suits before.

But now let me ask you another question: Do you know what sales mistakes you’re making when you sell? I’m willing to bet you’re not sure.

That’s because prospects don’t tell us when we’re making sales mistakes. As a result, few salespeople have a sense of what behaviors are actually repelling prospects away. You could be making any number of common sales mistakes that end the sale before you even realize it’s over.

It’s time to get a handle on the sales mistakes you’re making, so you can save those sales you otherwise might have lost—without ever knowing why.

In this video, I’m going to show you the 9 biggest sales mistakes to avoid at all costs. Check it out:

Video Summary:

Biggest Sales Mistake #1: Doing what prospects expect

Biggest Sales Mistake #1: Doing what prospects expect

Put yourself in the shoes of one of your prospects for a moment. How many salespeople do you think they’re meeting with on a regular basis? The number is probably quite high. What’s amazing is that most of the salespeople they meet with are doing the same exact thing over and over again.

Your prospects are sick and tired of the typical salesperson’s act.

Behaving just like other salespeople is one of the biggest sales mistakes you can make, hands down. If you do what your prospects expect you to do as a salesperson, you’re already on your way to failure before you really get started selling.

The key is to avoid doing anything that your prospects have come to expect from typical salespeople. That behavior is low-value in their eyes.

Now, we’ll walk through some of the other biggest sales mistakes to give you a sense of what expected behavior to avoid, so you can stand out in a positive way from the selling crowd.

Biggest Sales Mistake #2: Pitching

Biggest Sales Mistake #2: Pitching

Most salespeople have been taught to pitch whenever they get in front of what they believe is a qualified prospect. (And by the way, most salespeople have a pretty low bar for what counts as a qualified prospect.) When people find out you’re a salesperson, they might even say, “What’s your pitch?” And in response, most salespeople go into tap-dance mode, showing off all the bells and whistles of their products and throwing up all the information they have at once.

Prospects are used to this act that they can feel it coming a mile away. That’s why pitching is one of the worst sales mistakes you can make today. Instead of pitching, take your time to engage prospects in a real conversation to understand what’s going on in their world. Only then can you determine whether they’re qualified and a good fit for what you sell.  where they throw up all of their information all over the prospect. And prospects are so used to this.

By avoiding the pitch, you’ll open up a world of possibilities with prospects who would otherwise put up a wall as soon as you started your tap dance. Then you can focus on engaging them in a two-way dialogue about what’s on their mind. And ultimately, down the road, you’ll have the information you need to give a presentation that’s customized to their actual challenges. But the first step is to avoid the big sales mistake of pitching.

Biggest Sales Mistake #3: Being excited

Biggest Sales Mistake #3: Being excited

Out of all the sales mistakes out there, this might be the most annoying to prospects. Traditional selling would have salespeople showing copious levels of enthusiasm right off the bat, practically bursting with excitement when talking about their product or service. In reality, nothing turns prospects off more than this overly cheerful sales approach. It comes across as fake, try-hard, and disingenuous.

We need to lower the tempo. We don’t need to be excited about our product or our service—at least not openly. Hopefully you like what you’re selling and you have some real excitement over how you can help your prospects solve your challenges. But being excited does nothing to help you make a sell. In fact, it usually deters the sale by making the prospect distrust you.

Stay focused on the prospect and what they care about. Be calm, authentic, and human. Drop that excitement and forced enthusiasm. Instead, be a real person. That’s going to connect with prospects so much more than high energy ever will.

Biggest Sales Mistake #4: Persuading

Biggest Sales Mistake #4: Persuading

Persuading is one of those crippling sales mistakes that has made its way deep into the culture of selling. Just go onto Amazon right now and search the word “persuasion”—you’ll find literally millions of books on the topic of persuasion techniques and tactics in sales.

The problem is that sales is not about persuading people. I know this goes against what most of us have been taught, but hear me out. Rather than try to persuade anyone that’s in front of us, we should be taking a step back to really understand what is most important to them, to discern their biggest challenges, and to determine whether their their needs align with what we have to offer. There’s no room for persuasion in that entire process, is there? It’s just about good conversation and listening skills.

So don’t fall victim to the common sales mistakes of trying to persuade. Instead, focus on disqualifying prospects that are not a good fit. That way, by the time we get to that presentation, we’re only presenting to qualified prospects who are a great fit for our solution.

Biggest Sales Mistake #5: Talking for more than 60 seconds straight

Biggest Sales Mistake #5: Talking for more than 60 seconds straight

This is one of the most common sales mistakes. I see salespeople making it all the time. We get excited about what we’re talking about, we feel like we’re on a roll, and we just keep on going and going…and going. But the data shows that prospects start to tune us out after about 60 seconds.

In fact, the data is really strong about the fact that top-performing salespeople never speak for more than 72 seconds straight—ever. My biggest takeaway from that is that we should never talk for more than 60 seconds straight without engaging prospects back into the conversation.

Even if you have an important point that you need to make, and it takes a little bit more time to say, break it up with something like, “Does that make sense so far?” or “Do you see what I’m saying here?” to bring them back into the conversation.

Biggest Sales Mistake #6: Closing

Biggest Sales Mistake #6: Closing

Many of us have been taught that we always need to be closing—and never take no for an answer. But that’s such an old-school sales mentality. Modern selling is not about closing; it’s about taking prospects through a process to determine whether they’re a fit while creating value for them along the way. That way, in the end, the only question we ever have to ask is, “What would you like to do next?”

If you’ve done a good job up until that point, the prospect will lay out exactly what needs to be done in order to close the sale. There’s no hardcore arm-wrestling closing technique required. It’s simply taking them through a process that shows real value to naturally close the sale.

That’s why closing is one of the biggest sales mistakes you can make. It goes against this process to focus on the close, instead of focusing on creating a stellar sales process where the prospect effectively does the closing for you.

Biggest Sales Mistake #7: Needing the sale

Biggest Sales Mistake #7: Needing the sale

Salespeople make this common sales mistake most often when they’re new to sales or in a slump. And we’ve all been there at some point, right? If you’ve ever been in a position where you had to close a sale just in order to pay your rent, the mortgage, or your bills for the month, then you know what I mean. I’ve been there too!

The thing is, when you need a sale, the prospect can immediately feel it. The desperation just oozes out of you. And the second you need to close a sale, prospects are going to feel guarded. They know you’re willing to say or do anything to get them to sign on the dotted line.

Never show that you need a sale. Even if you’re thinking to yourself, “If I don’t close this sale, I’m not going to make rent,” you’ve got to act like nothing’s at stake. Never act like you need to close the sale, because it will immediately make you lower value. You need to be strong and tell yourself, “I’m going to be fine without this sale. I’m financially independent and I do not need this sale.”

Biggest Sales Mistake #8: Following up

Biggest Sales Mistake #8: Following up

You might be thinking, “What? Following up is a sales mistake?” Yes. In fact, it’s one of the biggest sales mistakes out there. Here’s why.

Salespeople are often in a selling situation, and the prospect walks away (ends the call, ends the meeting, etc.) and the response is to follow up in a week at some nondescript time. This is a huge problem. We always want to have clear and scheduled next steps before the prospect walks away from a conversation with us.

I don’t care if you’re scheduling a next step for 6 months down the road. You never just let a qualified prospect walk away and say, “OK, I’ll follow up with you in a week or so.” Always have a scheduled next step instead of following up. (And by the way, if a prospect is unwilling to schedule that next step with you, it probably means that you’re in trouble anyway.)

Biggest Sales Mistake #9: Letting them get back to you

Biggest Sales Mistake #9: Letting them get back to you

The previous point laid the groundwork here. If you’re ever in a situation where you’re waiting for the prospect to get back to you, you’re in dire straits. Never let prospects get back to you. Always keep control of the selling situation.

Let’s say a prospect tells you, “This sounds great. How about I get back to you next week and we can continue the discussion?” Don’t accept it. Instead, say something like, “I really appreciate that. Just to avoid the back and forth, would it make sense to schedule a call right now for next week?” Nine out of 10 times, they’re gonna say, “Oh yeah, of course.” Never let them get back to you. Always be in control of the situation and have that clear and scheduled next step.

So, there you have it. Now you know the 9 biggest sales mistakes to avoid at all costs. I want to hear from you. Which of these ideas did you find most useful? Be sure to share below in the comments section to get involved in the conversation.

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About the Author Marc Wayshak

Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.

Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.

Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.

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