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The 3 Biggest Mistakes Salespeople Make

Sharon Gillenwater
by Sharon Gillenwater on Apr 29, 2015 5:24:00 PM

The 3 Biggest Mistakes Salespeople MakeLet’s face it, failure is easy. There are far more ways to fail than there are to succeed. Success takes hard work, commitment, consistency and a vision for where you are going.

It’s also helpful if you can learn from the mistakes of others, before you make the same mistakes yourself. So we asked G. Bruce Riggs, executive sales coach and president of the PerformOne Training Group, what he sees are the biggest mistakes salespeople make.

1. Failure to Plan

“The number one mistake I see salespeople make is failing to plan. Those who plan always beat out those who do not plan. Most salespeople spend less than 90 minutes a day selling, this is largely a result of failing to plan out their day. In order to increase your productivity and the actual time you spend selling, you should segment out your day. Spend the first 50 minutes increasing your expertise, learning something new or developing the knowledge you can provide to your prospects and customers, then take a 10 minute break. Spend your second 50 minutes working on your sales process - moving deals forward by sending out communications and nurturing prospective clients, and so forth. Multi-tasking is one big lie. We need to be focused on what we are doing in order to achieve success.”

2. Failure to Process

“The second major mistake I see salespeople make is not systemizing everything or putting it into a process. For example, do you have a process for bringing prospective customers into the business, and then a process for nurturing them? Beyond the sale, do you have a process for wowing them, for upselling and cross-selling, and finally, do you have a process for gathering referrals? Probably 90% of your new business exists within your current customer base so you have to make referrals a part of your process. Can you systemize your referral program? You have to build and optimize your systems in order to increase efficiency, and you need to know why you won when you win. Ask yourself if there are steps you can take to replicate your success.”

3. Failure to Prospect

“The third biggest mistake I see salespeople make is failing to pick up the phone. Salespeople are using email more and more and it’s getting ignored more and more. Prospecting is not old fashioned, it still works, and you must commit to using the phone because it works. However, it’s absolutely critical to understand the person you are calling on. There is never an excuse to not have some background information on the person you are calling on and the company they work for. If you don’t, you deserve to be asked to leave because it shows you have a lack of training and preparation. Before calling on a prospect, develop a script and memorize the first 20 seconds of your sales call. Also, come up with three great questions oriented around your core story that help get the conversation going. Ask questions about facts, about the outcomes they are looking for, the challenges they are facing, and the concerns they have. Be able to address them with your product or service.”

Remember, if you can’t provide information and value beyond what your prospect could get on the Internet, then there’s no reason for them to spend time talking to you. Be strategic, be deliberate, and always have a plan from how you manage your daily tasks to how you engage with your prospects. Don’t let a lack of planning, process and prospecting stand in the way of your success.

Before making your next sales call, take some time to carefully understand your prospect's motivations, backstory and care abouts by reading through their profile in our database. View our sample profiles and find your next sales target.

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Sharon Gillenwater
Written by Sharon Gillenwater
Sharon Gillenwater is the founder and editor-in-chief of Boardroom Insiders, which maintains an extensive database of the most in-depth executive profiles on the market, from Fortune 500 companies to independent non-profits, to help sales and marketing professionals build deeper relationships and close more deals with clients. Gillenwater is a long-time marketing consultant with expertise in marketing strategy, account-based marketing, and CXO engagement programs.

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