The Five Cardinal Sins Salespeople Commit

By Cindy Waxer

Having spent more than two decades actively researching, selling and personally training tens of thousands of salespeople, Bill Brooks, author, consultant, speaker and founder of The Brooks Group, has learned a thing or two about the triumphs and tribulations of sales professionals.

But it’s the five cardinal sins salespeople commit that Brooks says road warriors must avoid if they are to achieve success in today’s tough economy.

Failure to maintain a constant presence in the minds of prospects or customers. Quite simply, this is a failure to prospect consistently both outside of and inside existing accounts.

“If you’re not constantly in front of these people, what’s going to happen is someone is going to come in from out of left field and suddenly steal the account.”

Me too thinking. Salespeople must be creative and innovative in their efforts to differentiate themselves, their products and their organization from competitors. “Companies must differentiate themselves from everybody else. It might be something so simple and basic as a unique selling proposition or customer and prospect handling.”

Failure to listen. The salesperson that hears but doesn’t listen interrupts prospects, delivers solutions that are off-target or simply overwhelms prospects and customers with irrelevant information.

“This is the single, biggest error that salespeople make…. When you fail to listen, you don’t configure a solution. How can you make an effective sales presentation to somebody if you don’t know what your customers need? You simply won’t be on target.”

Failure to anticipate. Missing trends, potential problems, needs or necessary solutions that could forestall problems or head off the loss of business opens up the account to the competition.

“Salespeople get blindsided. They get too caught in the now and don’t anticipate the future. You must have your ear to the ground in the account to know exactly what’s going on as accurately as you can.”

Tendency to focus on process over results. A poorly executed system of prioritization that virtually cripples the salesperson from delivering effective bottom-line results sabotages the sale.

“Salespeople either don’t have a systemic approach to the sale or they get so consumed with things like, ‘They really liked me.’ In the final analysis, the reason you’re meeting with a prospect is to make a sale.”