8 Things Smart Salespeople Never, Ever Do

Avoid these common sales mistakes and follow the lead of successful sales reps to improve your sales

What mistakes do successful salespeople sidestep that the rest don’t? They avoid common mistakes by learning quickly what not to do and engaging in highly productive behaviors that yield stellar results. Here are eight common mistakes that top salespeople avoid in order to achieve and exceed their sales goals.

1. They never present contracts to unqualified buyers
Smart salespeople are fervent qualifiers. They focus on qualifying before they ever begin to present solutions or attempt to close. They know that contracts don’t get signed unless they determine the validity of each sales opportunity.

2. They never ask only closed-ended questions during a sales call
Smart salespeople develop their questions to get their buyers talking. They seek to uncover their story through well-crafted open-ended questions starting with who, what, where, when, why and how. They know the necessity of closed-ended questions which require a Yes or No answer, but they use them sparingly.

3. They never rely exclusively on “company-generated leads” 
Smart salespeople know that they have a stake in the game. Unless they work for companies that have a powerful marketing engine, they invest in leveraging their talent to develop self-generated leads through cold calling, networking, referrals, etc. They key here is creating a robust pipeline of qualified buyers through as many efficient ways possible.

4. They never mistake activity for productivity
Activity is taking action. Productivity is taking action that makes progress towards a goal. Smart salespeople know the difference between the two. They focus on moving each sales process forward rather than getting stuck in busy work, data entry and other non-productive tasks. Setting weekly goals, breaking them down into manageable tasks and then scheduling them is a standard method for productive work.

5. They never give a standard presentation
Every presentation, regardless of whether it is the same product or service is customized to fit the buyer’s specific needs and wants. Smart salespeople know that people buy what they want, so they curtail the presentation to meet those objectives. Giving a canned presentation leads to commoditization and can reduce the buyer’s decision to price rather than value.

6. They never use buzzwords from their industry with a buyer
Buyers hate being confused by salespeople. If you want to alienate a buyer, use your industry lingo to show how smart you are and you’ll get the boot. Instead, translate for your buyer into language they will understand. This is very apparent for those in the technology work or those who sell complicated products or services.

7. They never sell exclusively on price
Smart salespeople sell on value – not their perception of value, the buyers. That means they focus on uncovering (by asking good open-ended questions) what the buyers perception of value is and then selling to that. Leading with your product or service hides your value as a sales professional and hides the value the buyer is looking for since you made the product and price the focus on the sales conversation. Remember, they are not buying your product, but rather, what your product can do for them. They’re buying the benefits. So do what smart salespeople do, ask and deliver the value your buyer communicated to you from their answers.

8. They never call on a prospect without first researching them or their company
LinkedIn is one of the greatest business tools every created. Use it. Most people have a LinkedIn profile, have a website, a Facebook page, not to mention the other myriad of social media sites. From a quick 1-minute skim of a LinkedIn profile to an in-depth investigation from multiple social media sites, you can learn a lot about buyers within your target market prior to contacting them. Smart salespeople know this and they do it well. Your credibility will go up every time you do.