Seven deadly sales sins

These could cost you your career

By Liz Wendling

There is nothing worse than witnessing sloppy sales skills – behaviors that salespeople still choose to participate in even though they don’t work anymore (some of them never worked!). They can be avoided. But they keep surfacing in the sales world, so they are worth looking at to see if you are guilty of them.

Here are the seven major mistakes salespeople continue to make that will cost them business and kill their careers.

1. They don’t use a sales process. I see it every day, salespeople flying by the seat of their pants and “winging” their sales calls. While some may have moderate success that way, many will fail. Like anything in life, the best salespeople have a specific sales process they stick to in order to produce the results they desire. Without a defined process…you leave lots of money on the table.

2. They can’t overcome their FEAR. Why, do so many salespeople, with great sales skills and abilities, find it so difficult to sell and find new customers? The answer is fear. Cold-calling, talking about money, asking for the sale and possibly being rejected, produces fear. Most of the things we worry about never happen. Salespeople need to jump in with both feet or they will never get over the fear hurdle. Get over it and go sell.

3. They talk way too much. Actually, they “throw up” all over the customer and miss a huge opportunity to ask questions. You’ve heard the phrase you have two ears and one mouth so use them accordingly. The customer should be talking 2-3 times the amount of time you are. Therefore you should spend around 70 percent of your sales call listening! This is a brilliant concept and salespeople refuse to embrace it.

4. They fail to ask the customer about what else they have done to solve the problem. Most salespeople are afraid to ask if the customer has looked at any other solutions. They think “hey if they don’t bring it up, why ask them?” A great way to establish credibility with a customer and to learn more about what’s going on is to ask them what other things they are doing to solve their issues – their answers will amaze you.

5. They’re only in it for the money. They are more interested in the paycheck than the client. Salespeople jump right into show and tell and then tell some more. They are so excited to present their offer and “go for the close” that they fail to truly determine if they can help. Stop thinking about the money and start thinking about adding value.

6. They don’t use a prospecting and networking plan. Salespeople don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan. A good prospecting and networking plan can do many things but most importantly it finds customers: people who have a need for your product or service. With good networking skills and an effective prospecting plan salespeople can create multiple selling opportunities.

7. They can’t detach from the outcome. They are so desperate to get the deal that they may as well be wearing a sign that says, “I have to close this deal” or “I need this sale.” They operate from a position of lack: “It’s the end of the month and I’m not even close to my quota…do you know anyone I can call?” When you can truly detach and let go, not only will selling become more fun, but you will actually sell more, as well.

To sell well today requires that you develop your skills and capabilities in many areas – asking great questions; selling on value rather than price; varying your selling style for different customers; and handling objections with grace and ease.

As a business professional, you know that sales are important to the success of your business. But you can’t make common sales mistakes and expect to sell anything. You must learn to approach sales in a new way if you want to be perceived, first, as a professional business owner and, second, as someone who has a great product or service to sell.

Selling has evolved and selling is a skill that can be taught, learned, and mastered over time. The key is to do enough of the right things, enough of the time. Go sell something!

Liz Wendling, the sales coach for women, believes everyone is in sales. Armed with proven sales strategies that work in this tough economy, Liz helps women business owners create immediate results, achieve lasting business success and permanently raise their bottom line. She works with women business owners who don’t have sales experience as well as those who have sold for years that need a tune-up to communicate more effectively and sell more efficiently.  Go to or e-mail for more information.

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