Stupid Things Sales People Do

Four of the Worst Sales Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

The four items listed below are some of the most foolish things that sales people do on a regular basis. These are things that you must avoid if you want to be successful in winning deals and making money. Being aware of these pitfalls and avoiding them will be your first solid step towards a successful sales career.

Oh and we can write a blog post like this because… well we have done all of these STUPID things – and many more throughout our careers.

1. Not Asking For the Business

So many sales professionals get a contact, make a connection with a representative at a potential customer, go through a sales cycle and then fail to ask for the business. They don’t even mention that they want to sell something. This is stupid for obvious reasons. If you don’t ask for the business, you won’t get it. A good sales person is ALWAYS on the lookout for potential business. Ask for the order!

2. Not Planning for the Worst

Planning for the worst is what sales people are paid for. If customers never raised objections, all companies could just go into “self-serve” mode. Sales people would turn into cashiers and just scan products across a lifeless sensor. The reason sales people are necessary is to combat potential objections from customers. So, to be successful in sales, you need to be prepared for every potential objection, even the worst imaginable.

3. Not Knowing What the Buying Process Is

This is a really dumb one. You’ve absolutely GOT to know what your customer’s buying process is. This is extremely useful and not that difficult to accomplish. Generally, all you need to do is ask and your prospect will tell you the steps that their company must go through before any deal is approved. Be persistent with your prospect and make sure that THEY really know (because sometimes they don’t) the full extent of the buying procedure. If what they are telling you sounds iffy, try talking to someone else in the company to make sure. If you don’t get this information, you will never have a clear idea of how close you actually are to finalizing the sale and your predictions will almost always be wrong.

4. Bad Time Management

This one is easy to identify, but difficult to avoid. If you spend most of your time at work doing things that don’t make money (e.g. designing elaborate spread sheets, organizing email, “strategizing in the office”, etc.), then you will not be out getting sales. This is obvious, and yet we often feel more comfortable with these less important tasks than with the real meat and potatoes of the sales process: cold calling, negotiating, and prospecting. For this reason, keeping on track takes discipline. Every time that you are conducting an activity at work, ask yourself: “Is there something else that I could be doing right now that would be making more money?” If the answer is yes, it’s time to switch activities.

Need more information about the dos and don’ts of complex sales? Check out our weekly podcast at We offer FREE information on a regular basis in our ongoing weekly sales podcast. There’s no better way to improve your sales expertise than constantly educating yourself on effective sales methodology.

Good Selling
Mike & Joe
SalesRoundup Podcast

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5 comments for “Stupid Things Sales People Do

  1. Randy Ayn
    April 2, 2009 at 10:29 am

    I need to remind myself of number 4 constantly. Focus!

  2. James in MO
    April 2, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Don’t forget “Not Continuing Education”. As a manager, I noticed that some of the people would do hard work & educate themselves (through Positive Attitude & continued learning through sources like Sales Roundup Podcasts, books, etc) on their attitude and their product knowledge. They’d get success, but then stop doing the things that got them there. It’s dedication to the profession and your sales/people skills that sets the top 20% apart.

  3. John Patrick
    April 2, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Totally agree.

    If I had to add anything it would be not being prepared not only for the objection but also for the agreement. How many times have we lost a sale because we kept talking (after all, we still had three bullet points to cover) when their head was nodding up and down!?

  4. Jonathan
    April 3, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    My stomach is in knots thinking about this subject. hahah.

    Ok, I’ve got two for you:

    1. “Committing Distribution Malpractice”

    This is the process of selling your company value or features without knowing what your prospect wants to hear. Don’t laugh….it exists every day amongst sales people who either become overly enamored with specific features of their offerings or who can’t seem to stop repeating the same message that once resulted in another deal.

    2. Selling to an all powerful decision maker

    In short, there is rarely 1. Learn to identify all and consensus build.

  5. May 8, 2009 at 1:33 am

    Jonathan’s comment about consensus building is sooooooo true. There rarely is just one all-knowing, all-powerful decision maker; it’s great when you can create a meeting of all minds and bring everyone together in agreement to support your cause (closing a huge deal!) Therein lies your success…..

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