How to avoid the seven deadly sins of selling

How to avoid the seven deadly sins of selling

The first objective of effective sales training and coaching is to help salespeople become aware of any bad habits they may have developed over time. The next objective is to admit that these bad sales habits are deterrents to success.

By breaking these bad habits down and see them for what they are, we can begin to rebuild our sales skills by putting in place healthy sales habits that lead to success.

However, even if you do not have the opportunity to attend good sales training or have access to an effective sales coach you can still be aware of and avoid the seven deadly sins of selling.

Sin 1: Talking your way out of the sale

In our desire to prove how worthy and clever we are to our prospects and clients we can talk our way out of a sale. Instead of entering into the sales discussion intent on listening to our clients and respecting their views and perspectives we may become so zealous about what we have to offer that we smother them with our view of the world. We can become so obsessed with ourselves we leave our humility at the door and lose our way by not engaging our client/prospect in the first place.

The remedy: assume less, pitch less, ask more questions, and listen.

Sin 2: Having no selling system

Having no selling system in place to guide and direct us can set us up for failure, especially if there are more than one or two salespeople in our sales team. Everyone doing their own thing, lack of consistency, time and energy wasted, and so on. We see this time and time again. Setting up a system helps salespeople fight against distractions, burnout, and laziness.

The remedy: automate your sales process so that you can save time, money, and effort.

Sin 3: Trying to win big without building trust and 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 various reasons prospects can fear doing business with salespeople. Trying to win the big deal without first building credibility and trust usually means you will come of second best. Who are you anyway? Why should people do business with you?

The remedy: Those big deals that people win usually come about because salespeople try to win small pieces of business first and build their credibility and earn the client’s trust incrementally over time.

Sin 4: Selling ‘sexy’ and no substance

While many marketing and advertising executives may seek the instant gratification of highly creative, flashy campaigns, salespeople are looking for substantive strategies that sell. There is an old saying: sell the steak, not the sizzle. For our purposes here, think of the ’sizzle‘ as the general sexy features of your product/service and the “steak” as the substance, the reality of your offering. The buyer is much more knowledgeable these days and can see through the hype and spin of “sexy”.

The remedy: Do not bluff your way through a sales call. Instead, match the relevant aspects of your offer to what is relevant to the prospect sitting across the table from you. Be transparent and open.

Sin 5: 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 time and 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 and their actions.

The remedy: Combat the damaging effects of anger by keeping a realistic yet positive attitude and doing the right things.

Sin 6: Putting your needs before those of your prospect

Greed and desperation can become key drivers for many salespeople. Rushing or pushing the prospect into buying instead of taking the time to understand their priorities, build rapport, and create trust, will push prospects away and leave you worse off. As will selling products or services that do not solve the prospect or customer’s problems. People will soon suss out a dodgy self-interested salesperson and run the other way.

The remedy: Become a trusted adviser to your clients by matching their real priorities with genuine solutions you can provide that will help them be successful.

Sin 7: Defaulting to price

You have two choices in business, either you have a clear point of differentiation from your competitors you can charge a reasonable premium for, or you are the cheapest. If you are the cheapest then price is your default position. Most businesses do not want to be the cheapest, yet many of their salespeople do not know how to position or stand up for the value of what they bring to their clients. Unwilling or unable to discuss the real meaning of value from the customer’s perspective and then present their offering in terms of real value, ROI, etc. Salespeople who default to price as their only option are doing everyone a disservice.

The remedy: Find and define a clear point of differentiation for your business and yourself. Then focus on the specific priorities of your customers and demonstrate how your offering delivers real value in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, and risk mitigation whilst reducing the total cost of ownership instead of only focusing on price.

Remember, everybody lives by selling something.

Sue Barrett is founder and CEO of and and has written 21 e-books and 500+ articles on the world of 21st century selling. Sue and her team partner with companies to improve their sales operations and provide sales consulting, training, coaching and assessments.



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