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Marks of Failure

Just as there are all certain characteristics that typify a high-performing sales professional, there are also characteristics that are tell-tale traits of underperforming sales reps. Some creep into our lives slowly. Others are habits learned from others. No matter how one gets “infected”, knowing how to spot these traits is a way to keep from “getting sick”. Listed below is a list of five character traits that one should avoid in order to improve one’s chances of sales excellence. What is written below is not intended to serve as “the be all and end all” of traits to avoid. These are the top problems sales reps face. Avoiding these Five Marks of Failure will enable you to stay on the right road:

·          Don’t Think, Just Go Go Go! – Some sales professionals are bundles of untapped energy.  They are constantly on the road, pounding the pavement for the next sale, cranking away on the phone or doing anything and everything to keep business moving.  There are advantages to this as a position in sales definitely requires energy and determination.  However, those who focus on the “go go go” can overlook a lot of important information and often pass up great opportunities in their quest for “more more more!”  Every salesperson should cultivate a habit of stopping and thinking before making decisions or acting on a situation.  Planning and introspection are important.

·          Just Ask the Basics – Some care about just the basics – “uh, how much do you want? When do you want it? Anything else…?” They gather basic information but fail to dig deep into why their customers or prospects are seeking to make a purchase.  They stay on top of the surface and avoid diving down into deeper waters. When questioning a client, find out about the business issues that are driving the need for a purchase.  Ask about the implications of action or inaction. Determine what requirements are most important. Find out what criteria will be used to make a decision. Gather pertinent information to truly get to the heart of why your customer is buying and how you can help.

·          Sell Now, Learn Later – Good sales reps know all there is to know about sales, right? Why should they spend time in training classes? They know what they’re doing… “I’ve been selling for years. I don’t need to waste my time learning anything new.” Well, even an old dog needs new tricks. One of the biggest mistakes sales professionals make is to not invest in their skills and knowledge.  Just as one invests in maintaining a house, so must a sales professional invest in maintaining knowledge and skills. Failing to invest in one’s skills will eventually manifest itself in lower sales numbers.

·          Go For the Sale and Move On – “I don’t need to know who this person is.  I just want to know if they’re going to buy from me or not.”  Some sales professionals are anything but professional.  In fact, they can be quite unprofessional.  All they care about is the commission check.  They overlook the people they deal with and focus on a slash and burn mentality that allows them to make a quick sale then move on.  The reality is that the most successful sales professionals foster relationships with their customers.  They get to know them and understand their interests, desires and motivation.  They realize that through strong relationships they increase their chances of building a long-term client. 

·          Analysis Paralysis – We’ve all seen sales professionals who get bogged down in trying to figure out their way out of a problem that they overlook the basics of what they do. Just as a basketball team who can’t execute fundamental basketball will lose more games than they should, sales professionals who don’t stick to fundamental sales skills will lose out on sales. Too many missed free throws can blow a game. Take the time to practice and execute your “free throws”, “passes” and other fundamentals to increase your odds of success.

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