The 10 Most Common Sales Mistakes


  1. Outdated Sales Approaches: There is nothing more harmful to your sales results than practicing outdated, legacy approaches to sales. Less than half of salespeople reach their goals because their clients don't find the experience to be valuable enough to continue the sales conversation. For two years, I have implored sales leaders, sales managers, and sales organizations to focus on improving their effectiveness.
  2. Not Occupying the One-Up Position: In any relationship between two people, one of them will be One-Up and the other One-Down. That ranking is not about intrinsic superiority. Instead, the person who is One-Up has the knowledge and experience to lead the other. The person who is One-Down needs the person who is One-Up to help them improve their results. A contact who knows everything the salesperson knows will have little use for that person and will not be compelled to follow their lead. This is what modern B2B sales looks like now.
  3. Creating Too Little Value: There are still a lot of salespeople who believe that their primary outcome is selling their product or service. Unfortunately, most sales attempts fail due to a lack of value creation. The outcome of every sales conversation is to create the requisite value for the client. You can think of this as a facilitated, needs-based buyer's journey, helping the client make the best decision for their business and providing them with the best possible results in the future. When you consistently create value for your client, you all but ensure a won deal.
  4. Too Little Prospecting: There are only two things a salesperson needs to do to succeed in sales: 1) create new opportunities and 2) capture those opportunities. The problem with many sales leaders, sales organizations, and salespeople is that they believe it is more important to capture opportunities than to create them. This ignores the fact that they are actually more likely to miss their goals because they don't win enough deals, largely because they didn't create enough in the first place. Ninety minutes of prospecting a day will cure what ails you.
  5. Choosing Asynchronous Mediums: In the last five or six years, there has been an explosion of technological tools designed to automate prospecting through email. That medium does not allow a genuine conversation with the prospective client. The over-reliance on asynchronous mediums and automation has now reached its peak, with clients deleting most sales emails that happen to escape Google’s spam filter. If you are not asking for a meeting in a medium where you can hear your client's voice, what you are doing is not prospecting. Instead, you are a pen pal at best.
  6. Occupying the Wrong Role: This one ranks higher for many salespeople and sales organizations. One of the reasons salespeople fail to reach their goals is because they spend their time in the wrong role, especially roles with responsibilities outside of sales. Any time spent in operations, accounting, or customer service is time stolen from sales. One way to improve your sales results is to stay in your lane, ensuring that you give your time and energy exclusively to sale work.
  7. Trying to Increase Velocity: A deal won today is better than one won four weeks from now. But stressing velocity comes with its own risks, as it causes a lot of losses that might have ended up as wins. Improving velocity doesn’t necessarily mean going faster, especially since any attempt to go faster than your prospective client puts your deal in jeopardy. Once you get out ahead of your client, their inability to keep pace often prompts them to stall or even disengage. Given the choice between winning two weeks from now or losing today, you are better off investing the time to win the deal.
  8. Failing to Negotiate: You don't always get to decide when and what you negotiate. One of the challenges for salespeople is not being able or willing to negotiate when the client asks them for a different price or some kind of discount. Instead, many salespeople tell the client that they will have to go back and talk to their sales manager. As soon as the salesperson admits they can't negotiate, the client knows that the salesperson is now negotiating a concession their sales manager is certain to give them. You are better off negotiating with the client as soon as the negotiation begins.
  9. Not Recognizing Client Concerns: One holdover from the legacy approaches to sales trains salespeople to recognize and overcome "objections," something that was valuable in a different time. But in the complex environment we share with our clients, many seeming objections actually  mask real concerns, and leaving a concern unresolved will often prevent clients from being able to move forward. Take real concerns seriously, and create the certainty that will allow your client to take action.
  10. Failing to Address Consensus: In a good portion of B2B sales, winning a deal means helping your client find consensus within their own team or their company. Too many salespeople still assume that their primary contact is going to be enough to shepherd their deal through to its conclusion, only to find out that they couldn’t gain enough support. As with a number of challenges on this list, the skills necessary to help the client create alignment and commitment are more difficult than they were ten years ago, demanding far more of the salesperson.
Post by Anthony Iannarino on January 9, 2022
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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