Don’t do this!

The best salespeople are not backward about learning from their mistakes – or the mistakes of others. Here are a few doozies. SUE BARRETT

Sue Barrett

By Sue Barrett

As markets tighten I thought we could reflect on some lessons learnt in the past by highly experienced, successful sales people.

The following lessons are from some of the participants of my “Sell like a woman” research project and make for interesting reading in “what not to do” in sales. Here is the second part of a three part series on common sales mistakes.

Not listening

Going in too fast! Jumping ahead before clarifying the whole picture. I had to learn more about people. Recognising that not everyone moves and thinks as fast as I do at times. [Tia]

I have not listened to people enough, or rushed through. [Danielle]

Missing vital information, because I was so excited about our new offering I talked too much and completely missed the mark with the client, whose needs were entirely in another area. [Fay]

Making assumptions relying on someone without checking

Assumption! I have been caught out assuming certain things about customers that were completely incorrect and had almost lost me a sale. A customer’s perception is also very different to my own – never try to guess what they are thinking!! [Karen C]

Believing I had a sale before it was closed. Initially, I believed what I was told. Learnt early on that you don’t have a sale until the contract is signed, money is exchanged or order is given. [Debra]

No sales process

Not knowing that there is a logical process to selling. Spending too many years “flying by the seat of my pants” feeling my way through selling and losing sales in the process. If only I, and others like me, had known that there is a process to learn and follow, we could have made so many more sales in those early years. Lucky I learnt about it before it was too late. [Lucy]

Believing the hype about “tricks and secrets” to selling when all it is a proactive communication process. I would have not wasted so much time and money on self-help books trying to prop me up emotionally and so much energy on stress and uncertainty. [Mia]

I entered the sales world quite young and I recall being completely thrown when a customer would give me an objection. 1:1 sales coaching helped me overcome this and changed my perception that objections were not a negative and in fact were buying signals! [Melissa S]

Lack of planning

Not having the right systems and databases to make communication with our clients an easy process. In the early years of the business, we grew so fast that our systems didn’t keep up! It meant that I was doubling up on paperwork when communicating with our clients, which was such a waste of my valuable time! Not using technology to generate reports and keep detailed notes. [Kirsten]

Not having a plan in place. I made calls for the sake of making calls and spent most of my early sales career running around like a chook with its head cut off calling on the wrong kind of people because I didn’t know what a good customer looked like. [Sue]

Too focused on self and not the customer

Focusing on the outcome for myself not the client. Early on in my career, I was brash and aggressive and wanted the sale now, sometimes at the expense of the longer term relationship. My clients now are some of my best referral sources as they know I am about their needs before my own. [Nicky]

The worst mistake I made as a sales person was when I became focused on ME and what I wanted rather than focusing on others and what they wanted and how I could help them. I found I would be consumed with my goals and what I wanted to achieve, that I would ignore how this affected my relationships with my customers and ultimately my sales and sales career. [Sally]


Sue Barrett is founder and managing director of BARRETT, a boutique consultancy firm. Sue is an experienced consultant, public speaker, coach and facilitator. Sue and her team are best known for their work in creating high performing people and teams. Key to their success is working with the whole person and integrating emotional intelligence, skill, knowledge, behaviour, process and strategy via effective training and coaching programs. Click here to find out more

For more Sell Like a Woman blogs, click here.



Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.