5 Mistakes New Salespeople Make

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If you’ve just been hired as a salesperson and don’t want to fall flat on your face in the first six months, there are some landmines you need to avoid. These five mistakes may not have been covered in B School, and maybe you skipped over them in your part time job at Target. But you’re in the big leagues now, where the competition for promotion is dog-eat-dog and the rewards are more than a gift card at Starbucks. So try not to back into the propeller and avoid these five newbie no-no’s:


  1. You forgot to open the sale. Before you can close a sale, you must open it, says Mark Walsh, CEO of Mark Walsh International and dealer sales training guru. You first need to be on the same page and build some business rapport with your potential buyer. If they don’t like you, they won’t listen to you, and if they don’t listen to you, they won’t believe you, and if that happens, you can pretty much kiss the sale goodbye.
  2. You ask the wrong questions. If you ask the wrong questions, you’ll get the wrong answers, which means you’ll try to close your prospect for the wrong reasons. In selling most big-ticket items, we think that price drives the sale. The misconception is, if the price is low enough, a customer will make the purchase. So you’re inclined to push bargains and discounts instead of value.  
  3. You skip over the big WIIFM. You’re so eager to close your buyer that you gloss over the ‘What’s In It For Me’ part of the sale. In auto sales, statistics say that 99% of buyers want to drive the vehicle at some point before they’ll agree to buy it. Walsh notes that once the perceived value in a buyer’s mind exceeds the price by one cent, you’ve got a sale. To reach that crossover point, it’s crucially important to present the features and to demonstrate the corresponding benefits of each feature to your buyer.
  4. You confuse a reflex objection with genuine objection. A reflex objection is common in almost any buying situation. These include things like "I'm just looking." Many salespeople dwell on the reflex objection when they should be concentrating on genuine objections, often couched in words like “I want to think about it” or “I need to talk to my friend.” These are not the real objections. The real objections lie in what the buyer needs to think about and what he or she may need to talk to their friend about. When you hear these objections, Walsh suggests you acknowledge them, give your customer options as to why they won’t buy now, ask which option they’ve selected, and finally, wait for the answer. Walsh warns salespeople against asking the ultimate deal breaker: “What’s there to think about?”
  5. You lack a systematic approach. You tend to go with the flow to make the sale, letting the prospect control the selling process. Thus, you leave the sales interview never quite knowing where you stand. It’s all “blue sky” and happy talk and no clear objective as to the next step. Sandler Sales Training notes that if you don’t follow a system and guide the prospect through the process, you’ll be back at square one during your next meeting or phone call. 


If you expect to move up in sales, you’ll have to watch, listen and follow the lead of the most successful salespeople in your organization. And try avoiding the five mistakes mentioned above.


Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Darlene S
    Darlene S
    I think that the article was very vague.  It could have been more details or gave websites that you could get more information.
  • Alex Kecskes
    Alex Kecskes
    Thanks for all your comments. Brian: When you hear these objections, acknowledge them (in other words, listen to them, don't argue). In giving your customer options as to why they won’t buy now, you control the objections (financing, features, price, delivery, etc.) By asking which option they’ve selected, you further control the objection by having a solution ready at hand. By waiting for the answer, you don't jump the gun, but allow the customer to state the objection. Christopher: Watch how they handle a sale from start to close. And follow their lead.
    Good insight. The truth, as I have made all the above mistakes,at least once.
  • Hunter A
    Hunter A
    Excellent Article.
  • Dennis M
    Dennis M
    u forgot the most important part and that is to make sure you are able to listen and listen correctly
  • Catherine H
    Catherine H
    Good info
  • Brian T
    Brian T
    Could you expand on this please -     "When you hear these objections, Walsh suggests you acknowledge them, give your customer options as to why they won’t buy now, ask which option they’ve selected, and finally, wait for the answer." ?
  • Eileen P
    Eileen P
    I have been in medical sales for 26 years...in my experience...ALL of the items you addressed are true!
  • Denis D
    Denis D
    good views on sales
  • David V
    David V
    Love it..solid advice. I believe in method selling. Great to learn the steps and apply them.
  • Christopher R
    Christopher R
    What is the lead of the most successful sales people, since you say to follow them?
  •  Lizzy S
    Lizzy S
    Very good to read for those in face to face sales.
  • James H
    James H
    Very good article. Every sales trainer covers this material and few sales people remember it ten minutes later
  • AC M
    AC M
    Sales person for 30 plus years and this short read is spot dead on. But the push from the new super managers many times cloud these sale pearls by new reps and these mistakes are made over and over in the sales call today.  

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