July 31, 2012


Sales coaching is a fluid, dynamic field that needs to be responsive to both changing technology and the mercurial tastes and sophistication of buyers. Despite the constant refinement of techniques necessary to be successful, there are several basic truths in sales that have always held true, and will always hold true, no matter what is being sold or to whom. Some of these truths include what not to do if one wants to make a living in sales.

Here are five deadly behaviors that plague salespeople and the companies they work for the world over, costing countless millions in lost revenue annually.

1. Talking too much

This one is first because it is probably the deadliest habit. Salespeople need to listen much more than they talk. By asking the right questions and listening, the customer will practically hand over everything needed to recommend the exact product or service solution that will close the sale.

What are the right questions to ask to get the prospect talking? Read through some of our earlier blog posts for some helpful tips.

2. Giving up too soon

Although not a hard and fast rule, generally it can take up to 12 contacts to make a sale in the business-to-business sales environment. Unfortunately, most salespeople give up after around three.

Sales coaching and personal development actions are usually sufficient to keep a salesperson’s motivation up and interested in pursuing a qualified lead. However, the problem might also lie in a lack of a formal sales process that spells out how and when potential buyers are to be “touched” and a CRM that manages it.

3. Failing to qualify beforehand

Some eager salespeople consider every lead something which is to be pursued, no matter what. But failing to determine whether the prospect has the authority and cash to make a purchase can waste a lot of valuable time. When commission dollars are at stake, salespeople might become desperate. One skill that should therefore be part of all sales coaching is knowing when to walk away from a deal that will never happen because the logistics are simply not there.

4. Resting on your laurels

Occasionally, salespeople that experience some success can let things slip and take their success for granted. Some of the symptoms of this deadly habit include:

  • Starting the day at the crack of noon
  • Spending more time on the golf course or at cocktail lunches than conducting real business
  • Failing to “keep the saw sharp” with sales training and product knowledge
  • Relying on Internet traffic to build their business, especially considering Google’s frequent algorithm changes which obliterate Web traffic for lazy marketers

Top salespeople realize that there are always hungrier salespeople after their business, and stay proactive.

5. Blaming someone or something else

Professional salespeople can do well in every type of economy and in basically any industry under the sun where a demand exists or can be created. The amateur blames her company, product, competition, prices or the weather for her failure to prospect, qualify, present and sell to those able to buy. The pro simply does the job, understanding that she might have to work a little harder and smarter to overcome outside obstacles.

Sales coaching can get mired down with the latest fads and marketing tricks, especially in this Internet Age with its over-reliance on SEO and social media marketing to produce leads. Trainers would do well to focus on the fundamentals of sales and studying what makes people tick in order to help salespeople avoid common blunders that kill sales, not to mention their livelihoods.