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5 Fatal Sales Mistakes that Cost You Sales

by Bill Cates
5 Fatal Sales Mistakes

Classic Sales Mistakes you Need to Stop Making Today

Have you ever received a sales call from someone who was so inept that as they were bumbling through their poorly prepared opening, you were thinking…

  1. “Why did I answer this call from a number I didn’t recognize? and / or
  2. “This person either needs a new career or needs to work for someone who can train them.”

I probably get a couple of these calls a week.  I got one today that compelled me to write this piece for you.

If you never print out another article or blog post as long as you live, print this one out and post it near your desk. Why? Because these are classic sales mistakes I see professionals, business owners, and salespeople making every day.  And forward this to your colleagues and friends – but not your competitors.


Sales Mistake #1 – Knowing nothing about your prospect before you speak with them.

Pardon the pun, but this is one of those sales mistakes that is just “unspeakable.”  If you’re working through referrals and introductions, PLEASE make sure you get to know your prospects from the referral source.  This is information you probably can’t get from a website or LinkedIn profile.  If you’re not working from an introduction, then use LI and a Google search to find something.  Anything!  Don’t be totally ignorant of who they are and what they do.   When prospects call me, as I’m talking, I first look them up on LinkedIn and then locate their company’s website.


Sales Mistake #2 – Not Probing for Clarity

How many times have you had a prospect (or client) make a statement about their business or their goals – that you didn’t totally understand – but you didn’t probe for more clarification?  It happens all the time and it robs us of the change to gain deeper understanding. Heck… sometimes we get what Dave Sandler called, “No’s disguised as maybes.”  Whenever a prospect or client makes a statement that is unclear to you, explore for clarity.


Sales Mistake #3 – Not Having the Economic Conversation

“Let’s see if this makes economic sense.” I don’t recall where I heard this phrase, but these six words have made all the difference for me in my sales process.  While we know that what goes into someone’s decision to work with you is so much more than “price,” if you don’t bring up the economics of the decision or if you just mention the price/fee without exploring that further, then you prevent your prospect from making a fully educated decision and you deny yourself business you might have otherwise received.


Sales Mistake #4 – Not Having a Clean Plan for Professional Persistence

How many times have you read, “It takes 5-7 contacts with a prospect to turn them into a client”?  Here’s what I’ve observed. Some prospects only need one or two contacts from you to make a decision to work with you. While that’s good, the problem is that you may miss so many other opportunities if you don’t have a plan to remain professionally persistent. If I asked you, right now, “What is your 7-step process for courting prospects?” Would you have an immediate answer?  Or are you winging it when it comes to this courtship process?  While it’s one thing to be flexible and adjust your plan as the situation dictates, it’s another thing to have no plan at all and give up too quickly.


Sales Mistake #5 – Not Making a Recommendation

In my newest book, Beyond Referrals, I go into great detail about the power of making recommendations to your prospects.  Once you learn about their situation, problems, and the implication of those problems (Thank you Neil Rackham), and you sincerely believe that your solution will solve your prospect’s problem, you do both them and yourself a disservice if you don’t make a clear recommendation.  Making a recommendation is how you move prospects to become clients.

Are these the only fatal sales mistakes you might be making in your sales process?  Unfortunately, probably not.  And the good news is that you’re still having success. Right?  Heck… sometimes we’re successful in spite of our shortcomings.

Please take these ideas to heart. Don’t just say, “Yup! I need to do better!”  Think through these and make the necessary adjustments in your actions.


Is it time for you to capture the low-hanging referral fruits?

I highly recommend you attend our next Referral Champions Training Camp to get new ideas, boost your confidence, get more clients, and have the best year of your career!



Referral Coach