Top 5 Sales Mistakes that Cause You to Lose the Sale

Posted on 12/11/2013 in Selling Skills

If you had to list the top 5 sales mistakes you have made what would be on your list?  

As sales professionals and sales managers, most of us can easily rattle off a list of the critical skills and sales competencies that help us to win business for our company.  But are we clear on what the most common critical sales mistakes are so we can avoid making them over and over again? 

We asked a group of experienced sales professionals recently, "What are the most common mistakes salespeople make that cost them the sale?” This led to some interesting and diverse opinions.  After much discussion, we compiled the list below of the five most common mistakes that salespeople make that cause them to lose the sale.  
1. Talking too much.  This is the classic mistake. All salespeople know that they shouldn’t talk too much but some salespeople can’t help themselves.   This mistake results in a lot of negative outcomes.  Customers lose interest.  You run out of time on the sales call and fail to learn important information much about the customer’s needs and concerns.  
2. Selling to the Wrong Customers.  Some salespeople don’t screen the prospective customers and sales opportunities in their territories.  This means that they spend too much selling time on poor opportunities.  This mistake is doubly bad.  First, there is only a finite amount of selling time.  If you spend it on poor sales opportunities, it leaves you less time to pursue more profitable customers.  Second, if you end up winning a sale to the wrong type of customer, you will usually regret it.  Customers who are misfits usually require a lot of handholding and want lower prices because they don’t value what you can provide.
3. Poor Time Management.  Average sellers make repeated time management mistakes such as calling too frequently on the wrong accounts and not prioritizing their sales tasks and activities. Successful sales professionals, by contrast learn to efficiently utilize the time available for high gain sales activities and take maximum advantage of the finite amount of face-to-face selling time.
4. Conceding Too Much.  The most common mistake made by average negotiators is to concede too much, too soon. When a customer asks for a price concession, an average sales negotiator will immediately make a concession. The danger in conceding quickly is that the other side will usually then ask for more.  Plan what concessions you might be willing to make and make them slowly and thoughtfully so that they are fully appreciated for what they are.  For more details on common negotiation mistakes, read The Three Most Common Mistakes Make in Sales Negotiations.
5.Failure to follow up.  When I was promoted to my first sales management position many years ago, I noticed that this mistake was one of the biggest differences between my top sales professionals and the average sellers on my sales team.  My worst salesperson consistently failed to follow up on promises/commitments. Nothing infuriates customers more than failure of the salesperson to follow up.