5 Crushing Mistakes Most Salespeople Make

What’s the worst mistake you’re making in sales right now?

That’s actually a trick question. You can’t know the answer, because the worst mistake you’re making in sales is the mistake you don’t even know you’re making. In fact, most salespeople make the same mistakes, over and over again—without ever realizing they’re sabotaging their own success.

Fortunately, these common mistakes are quite easy to correct once you’re made aware of the problem. Here are 5 common sales mistakes you should stop making today:

1. Talking too much.

If you’re talking for more than 20% of any sales interaction, you’re talking way too much.

This might sound harsh, but it’s true: Your prospect doesn’t care about you. Prospects only care about themselves. You should only talk when you’re asking questions aimed to get the prospect talking. As a general rule, salespeople should speak for as little as 5%—and never more than 20%—of any selling interaction.

2. Failing to establish a budget.

Many salespeople fail to establish a budget because they’re simply too scared to ask.

A good salesperson realizes that not asking about the prospect’s budget is a much scarier mistake. Without a budget established, you’ll lose sales and undersell your solution. Swallow your fear, hang in there, and hold your prospects accountable to guide you on their budgets.

3. Answering a question without understanding the intent.

One common question salespeople hear is, “Do you do a lot of work in my industry?” Before answering this question—or any other question your prospect asks—make sure you understand the intent behind it.

For example, if you automatically assume that prospects want you to prove you have expertise in their industry, you’ll answer “yes” to the question above. However, what if certain prospects ask this question to ensure you aren’t working with their competitors? You’ve just been caught by a sales tripwire because you didn’t uncover the intent behind the question. Next time, respond by saying, “That’s an interesting question. Why do you ask?” Once the intent is clarified, you’ll be better prepared to answer well.

4. Using a sales voice.

Without even realizing it, many salespeople convert to a higher, more enthusiastic tone when launching into a sales pitch.

Prospects can sense the change—and they subconsciously put up their guards. Begin recording your calls and listen to your voice. Do you stray from your natural voice when you sell? Lower your tone, slow down, and speak normally.

5. Failing to establish clear next steps.

Have you ever walked away from a perfect sales meeting or call only to find you can’t get the prospect back on the phone later? This is called the “sales vortex”—and it should be avoided at all costs.

Fortunately, the solution is very straightforward: Schedule a clear next step during the initial sales meeting or call. Don’t settle for saying, “Hey, George, I’m going to call you at 10 a.m. on Monday.” Instead, get a scheduled event on the calendar and make sure everyone agrees to it, even if it’s only a 15-minute conversation.

Be sure to check out this video about more crushing sales mistakes to avoid:

Have you made one of these common yet crushing mistakes? What was the result? Let us know in the comments below—and then make the small tweaks necessary to dramatically increase your sales.

Marc Wayshak is the founder of Sales Strategy Academy, best-selling author of Game Plan Selling, and a regular contributor for Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post Business section. He holds an MBA from the University of Oxford and a BA from Harvard University.

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