How to Avoid the Seven Deadly Sins of Selling

One objective of effective sales training is to break down your bad sales habits. Our goal is to build your sales skills, using habits that lead to success, which are built on a firm foundational understanding of human motivation.


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    Avoid talking your way out of the sale. Swallow your pride. It is our need to prove to our prospects that we are smart and worthy of their respect that often leads us to losing the sale. We talk too much and listen too little. We blurt out features and benefits without first finding out if that information is relevant to our prospects. Or even worse, we neglect to find out if revealing such information will actually lessen our chances of winning the sale. The key is to assume less, pitch less, and ask more questions. Fact finding is the first step on a sales call; you can't make a recommendation if you don't know what the customer needs. You should ask questions such as: How much is an average customer worth? What is your 5 year business plan?
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    Avoid stumbling due to systemless selling. Setting up a system helps salespeople fight against laziness also known as the deadly sin of sloth - and keeps us from drifting into bad habits that will inhibit our sales performance. You should be looking to automate your sales process as much as possible so that you can save yourself time, money and effort. And we don't just mean automate with computers or other technologies. We mean that you must work on developing systems habits, scripts, typical questions that have proven to be effective in any given situation. It doesn't matter what system you use, just make sure you are using one and monitoring the success it brings you. Your main goal as a salesperson is to find what works as fast as possible and then keep repeating it time after time to reach extraordinary sales goals.
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    Avoid gorging your way to a loss of credibility. Building trust and lowering your prospect's resistance to change are the biggest challenges you will face early on in the sales process. For any number of reasons, your prospects fear doing business with you or any other salesperson. Therefore, what you need to do is slowly build trust and rapport with your prospects. By building trust slowly, you are avoiding the deadly sin of gluttony. Don't go in trying to win the big deal without first building credibility. There is an old saying that in order to eat an elephant you must do it small bit by small bit. The same applies in sales. Those salespeople who try to win small pieces of business and then build incrementally end up with a much greater portion of their customers' share of wallet. Even more striking is that those that use this strategy manage to break into many more accounts than those who simply try to go out and bite off more than their prospects will allow them to chew.
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    Avoid sexy but substanceless marketing. While many marketing and advertising executives are seeking the instant gratification (i.e. lust) of highly creative, flashy campaigns, salespeople are looking for substantive strategies that sell. There is an old saying that goes: sell the steak, not the sizzle. For our purposes here, think of the "sizzle" as the sexy features of your product/service and the "steak" as the solid benefits. If you are selling features, you are probably going to end up dead in the water. What you must do is sell benefits that are relevant to the prospect sitting across the table from you.
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    Avoid losing sales because of the blame game. Anger often rears its ugly head when reality does not meet one's expectations. Many salespeople, especially early in their careers, are discouraged by:

    • the amount of work it takes to succeed in sales;
    • the amount of rejection that one must endure; and
    • the many factors that are outside of one's control as a salesperson.
    Although there are many factors that a salesperson cannot control, one very powerful factor that they have total control over is their attitude. Combat the damaging effects of anger by keeping a realistic yet positive attitude.
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    Avoid putting your own needs before those of your prospect. Greed drives salespeople to:

    • rush the prospect to buy instead of taking the time to build rapport and create trust first;
    • sell products/services that do not solve their prospects' and customers' problems; and,
    • at best, make one sale but lose potential future sales by ruining their reputation with the customer.
    To avoid greed, you must not only become a true trusted advisor to your clients but also, and perhaps more importantly, understand how to create the perception that you are their trusted advisor.
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    Avoid blindly following the masses, because of envy, instead of leading through customer-centric differentiation. The reason why most sales training programs fail is that they are focused on tactical tools rather than strategic frameworks. Tactics are essential; however, typically, where most sales courses, books and tapes fall short is in tying their tactics together into an overall flexible strategy. No one can tell you exactly what notes to play, but you can get the sheet music that you can interpret and play based on what sounds right for you given your own unique style and what sounds right for your buyer, given any situation that confronts you. Differentiate yourself by focusing on the specific needs of your customers.

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Categories: Retail Sales