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5 Worst Selling Blunders You Should Avoid

Updated on September 18, 2013
jpcmc profile image

I'm a dad, husband, and Christian first. Second, I'm an educator and organizational development professional.


Sometimes I think sales people don’t use common sense when they sell. Not to say that I have no faults of my own, but some of the worst selling blunders could be avoided by simply using basic logic.

So which one of these five selling pitfalls have you made in the past?


1. Making promises you can't keep

Don't you just hate it when someone tells you they will call and they don't? Now factor in variables like time, cost, value, and others that are important to you. Right, it’s irritating and not to mention unprofessional. Unfortunately promises are often broken. This is not your usual he-promised-to-call-me-after-our-date broken promise (though this is also important), but promises made by sales professionals. I think this is a common selling mistake that even professionals and seasoned veterans do. Making promises is short of guaranteeing something to clients. Of course guarantees and promises are good. But they’re only good if you can keep them.

Some Suggestions:

  • Stick to what you can absolutely deliver
  • Know your products and processes so you can give accurate information
  • Inform clients about any problems regarding your promise and APOLOGIZE! Don't make excuses and blame people or the company. You made the promise, you are accountable.


2. Selling, Selling, and Selling Some More

Too much talking and too much selling will drive clients away. Most clients simply want the headlines about your product. It’s a nice to know everything about the product but don’t be an annoying walking advertisement. Clients have specific needs to be ironed out and all they need to know if you can provide a solution. So center on that need and the rest of the products features become an added bonus. Instead of being a walking encyclopedia about your product, be a consultant.

Another important part of selling is LISTENING. I often tell sales professional to listen to what your clients are saying. Of course there is a sales presentation to complete. But here’s the thing, how can you provide what clients need if you don’t take the time to listen to their needs? More than the sales presentation, clients simply want to know how you can help them solve their needs (and wants). Be a problem solver, not an individual bound by presentations and scripts.

Some Suggestions:

  • Focus on key points of the product or the service - highlight whatever is relevant to the clients especially the product's benefits.
  • Allow the clients to ask about the product, your company and anything related to what you're selling
  • Listen to your client. This means being sensitive to both verbal and non-verbal cues.
  • Provide solutions rather than simply offering products


3. Lack of Knowledge

Whether it is about your product or your company’s processes make sure you know the basics. A good place to start is reviewing the Frequently Asked Questions if your company has one. If not, insist on having one or make your own. It’s is really irritating for the client to be entertained by someone who can not offer any valuable information. Of course what is valuable is subjective, so when it doubt, start with the basic info first.

The lack of knowledge of a sales person is not just irritating but insulting as well. Irritating since the person can’t provide important information. Insulting since clients may feel unimportant and unappreciated by having an incompetent, uninformed person assisting them. How would you feel if you were in their shoes?

So to all sales professionals out there: Learn, Learn, Learn and after all that Learn some more.

Some Suggestions:

  • Learn what the clients want to know. Moreover, provide it to them.
  • Choose the right information to give. Too much or too little will spell disaster. Moreover, jargons and too technical info will not impress them, it will just make your sales presentation more difficult to digest.
  • Read about your products, your company and your industry. Search the internet, newspapers, talk to other sales people, managers and even previous clients. It pays to have the latest information.
  • Listen to other sales representatives present or sell. Value the experience of others and put weight on the expertise of other successful sales people.


4. Giving Vague Answers

This is a corollary of the previous irritant. Some sales people have the habit of giving vague answers when they do not know how to respond to a client’s query. This is understandable in that no one wants to be called incompetent. So whip up some vague answer just to weasel out of a question. It’s understandable, but it is not acceptable! If you can not provide the answer then direct them to someone else who can. So how do you avoid this from happening? Simple, learn as much as you can about your product, service and the company. But don’t stop there; learn about the processes and everything that the client might want know. Start with the FAQs and work your way to more in-depth information.

Just to reiterate: Learn, Learn, Learn and after all that Learn some more.

Some Suggestions:

  • Ask someone to drill you with questions about your products, company and processes. This is where practice becomes handy.
  • Note every question you can't answer and learn the answer.
  • Prepare a list of possible questions from clients and research it even before you meet with them


5. Presenting Unprepared

Don’t make a fool of your self and try presenting without preparations. Unfortunately some are too brave enough (or downright stupid) to even try this. This is a rookie mistake but even seasoned professionals get into this trap. Presenting to a client is your chance to shine and highlight your product’s strengths. But this will be to no avail if you fail to prepare. Preparation goes beyond putting your sales kit together or packing your flyers. It includes knowing your clients more. Get as much information as you can. Even the simple knowledge of demographics can make a difference in your presentation. Clients want to know how they will benefit from you and your products. Be ready to provide details about this. A good practice is to write questions that they may ask you. Research and know all these before you go into battle. My dad often told us the key to preparing for a 10 item quiz is by knowing 100 things about the subject. Apart from the most common questions asked, you may have no idea what would pop up in your client’s mind. So the best tactic is to think of what you don’t know and study it. Preparing for a sales presentation is simply professionalism at its best.

Some Suggestions:

  • Research about your client - demographics, industry, competitors etc.
  • Provide facts not hearsay. Make sure you can substantiate every information.
  • Customize your presentation based on your client's profile and needs
  • Prepare a Plan B in case Plan A has problems. This means having both digital copies and hard copies of your presentation, preparing a pen and paper presentation or some other presentation strategy.
  • Know when to present. The right timing will help your clients remember you and choose you.

Avoiding these pitfalls can help you create better sales success. Come to think of it, these pitfalls can be remedied easily when people just use their common sense. This proves the fact that common sense is not so common after all.


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