9 Career-Killing Mistakes to Steer Clear of in Sales

If you’re a friendly, outgoing people-person there’s a good chance you’ll gravitate to a career in Sales. And, that would be an excellent choice for a challenging yet gratifying way to make a very good living. That is, of course, if you heed these 9 career-killing mistakes to steer clear of in sales.

This list contains all of the horrible missteps that should be avoided at all costs.

1. Lack of professional appearance and manner.

First things first. Shabby looking salespeople with poor attitudes may somehow close a few deals, but it’s harder for them. However, there’s a better way to present yourself.

  • Well-fitting clothes that are clean and pressed.
  • A hairstyle that’s complimentary and neat.
  • Personal hygiene that is beyond reproach.
  • A courteous and polite demeanor to everyone you encounter.
avoid career-killing mistakes by being neatly dressed
Maintain a professional appearance.

2. Not demonstrating respect for time, either theirs or yours.

A lack of consideration for your potential customer’s time is a common downfall of busy salespeople. Save yourself some embarrassment and get this right. Above all, do not be late for appointments. It says a lot to your customers when you don’t treat them right before the sale. If that’s the case, what can they expect after?

In addition, don’t waste your energy by interacting with the wrong person. You’ll seriously regret the time lost when you don’t pre-qualify the person you’re speaking with.

don't waste time on career-killing mistakes
Don’t waste time.

3. Problems with Q & A.

Problems with questions and answers can definitely be an obstacle to getting the information needed for the sales process to move forward.

To begin with, it’s not hard to ask the right questions. The problem is, there’s a good chance you’re not listening to the answers. In fact, isn’t it true that we’ve all done it? We’ll ask a question, then while the other person is talking we’re busy thinking about what we’re gonna say next and not listening. Not polite and certainly not productive.

Sometimes, in an effort to break the ice, the wrong question may be asked. An example is, “Tell me about your company.” If I were the prospect, my thought would be, “Are you kidding me? You want me to do business with you and you couldn’t be bothered to research my company beforehand? No thanks!”

Since you’re aware of this career-killing mistake, put some effort into choosing the right questions and really hearing what is said. Then, simply use that information to put together a kick-ass proposal.

4. Talking too much is a turn-off.

To be sure, this business of building relationships is a crucial part of the sales process. However, there is such a thing as going too far. Some topics should be and are off-limits, and you know what they are. I’m gonna say it anyway: Religion, Politics, and Sex.

Beyond taking a chance that you’re on opposite sides when it comes to these things, if you’re talking that means you’re not listening. And, if you want to close the sale, you’d better be paying attention.

5. Pushing every benefit of your product or service is not helpful and could be another horrible misstep.

Many newer salespeople are guilty of this. This is where the questions asked during the initial interview are so important. It’s a career-killing mistake to try to sell someone on an aspect of your product that doesn’t pertain to them. In fact, it doesn’t matter how excited it makes you, if they don’t need it to solve their problem, they’re not gonna buy it.

6. Not prepared for customer meetings.

The most significant encounter will be the presentation of the solution to the customer’s issue. Importantly, a complete package with all the details spelled out is the icing on the cake when it comes to closing. Make sure to check and double-check all of the particulars.

be ready for career-killing mistakes
Do you have all your ducks in a row?

7. Not asking for the sale is a big-time career-killing mistake.

Fear of rejection is the number one reason a salesperson fails to ask for the sale. We all hate to hear “no” regardless of what it is we’re selling. Don’t fall prey to this rookie error.

Keep in mind that the art of selling is simply a matter of finding out what someone’s problem is, then showing them that you have the perfect solution. Be prepared and lose the fear.

Over the last few years, I have taken the position that I’ll ask for the sale no less than seven times. When you do this, it’s important to make it feel natural. Your prospect must not feel pressured. This requires a delicate hand and the right questions.

If you’d like to try the “Close Seven Times” method, after being shut down you’ve got to find six more ways to get back in there to take another swing. For example, if my customer said, “I’d like to think about it.” I might say, “Of course. You know, my experience shows that when someone says they’d like to think about something, they usually have questions. What about you? What questions do you have?” Now, we’re continuing the conversation and working towards a happy result for everyone.

close 7 times to avoid career-killing mistakes and be a sales hero
Close seven times to become a sales hero.

8. Failure to follow up.

Through good times and bad, it’s essential to stay in touch with potential customers. One big issue is to promise to get information to someone ‘tomorrow’ and, when tomorrow comes, there’s no contact, information or explanation. This leads to a loss of credibility that may very well lead to the loss of the sale.

9. Customer service after the sale is poor.

Do you remember how you were all about staying in contact with this person before the sale? It was nothing for you to make multiple visits to “touch base”. There were plenty of calls and emails, too. Now that it’s a signed deal, you haven’t reached out since you got the check.

Be smarter than that. Pick up a nice thank you card and, in your best handwriting, express your gratitude to them for choosing you and your company. To make it easy for you, here’s a link to “Sample Thank-You Notes“. You can easily customize them to a variety of situations. You’ll find the act of handwriting a note to your customer will lead to better relationships. And, more sales.

Bonus blunder that I know you won’t make.

The most ghastly of horrible missteps is to be a salesperson who doesn’t love his product.

You’re abusing your time and talents if you’re not totally committed to whatever it is your selling. I like this quote by Kevin Harrington from Mission.org, “If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, go sell something else. Quit wasting your time. Find something you do believe in, and do that instead.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

For more tips pertaining to the sales process, please read the Dance Safari post, “Why People Buy from a Salesperson“.

As you can see, it’s not asking too much to do the things you need to avoid the horrible missteps of career-killing mistakes. Pretty much just good manners, no? Aka, great customer service.

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