How to Avoid the Biggest Mistake that Sales People Make

Step One for Professional Selling

Selling may require a variation in the strategies depending on the vertical market and the goods or services being represented, however the principles of selling remain the same. Because the principles are universal, the commonalities that are found in the mistakes that are made in the sales profession are also universal. With that understanding in mind, we know that there are many errors that show up in the early stages of a sales professional's career, and there is one that seems to be pervasive in both brand new and tenured sales people alike. Are you ready for it? Ok, here you go.

"Shut up and Listen!"

Got your attention didn't it? I know that statement still rattles me a little every time I read it, which means it is serving its purpose. You see, here is the deal; sales people, both young and old, are notorious for verbally vomiting on their prospects and customers alike.

Now, most of the time there is great intent around these audible data dumps. We want to be viewed as the expert and we want our prospects and customers to see us as a resource for them. We want them to feel comfortable with us, and often we think that by flexing our intellectual muscles we are creating this comfort level Yet, for some reason this just doesn't create the desired outcome in our meetings and interactions, and we are left sitting in our cars scratching our heads wondering what just happened?

So, what do we do about this? First, we must understand that the sales profession game may be the same, however the rules are different. Sales used to be all about providing information, and whomever had the most information won. Today, information is everywhere and customers have access to it 24/7. Listen, we are all carrying super computers around in our pockets, so information is available in abundance. As a result, Sales Professionals must bring something other than information to the table.

You may be thinking that your product or service is unique or proprietary and that your information is still important. I hate to break it to you; you are fooling yourself by thinking that way! Now, I am not saying that you don't need to know about your products or services. I am also not suggesting that you shouldn't be an expert in your field. What I am suggesting is that your information or knowledge can't be your only deliverable. People make buying decisions out of emotion and then they justify the emotional decision with logic. This is principle. This is universal. This is unchanging.

In order to differentiate yourself in the market and outperform your competition, you must find a need and then provide a solution to that need. Simple right? It really is. However, you can't do this if you are the one doing all the talking in a meeting or conversation. To find the need you must first ask great questions and then; yes, you guessed it. Shut up and listen!!

When I say listen, I mean really listen. We refer to this as active listening. This is essentially being an empathetic observer. You are listening to what the other person is saying both verbally and non-verbally. This  is not pretending to listen while formulating what you will say next! That mistake is where so many get in trouble and begin to fall back to spewing information all over the place.

So you asked a great question, and you actively listened. Now what? Ask another question. Keep asking questions and listening until it is truly clear what your prospect or customer's real need is. Often we take the first answer as the need and we go right into solutions. We want to go for the sale right away and ultimately this can be the deathblow to an opportunity. Remember, people buy for emotion and they justify the decision with logic. You must ask enough questions until you get to the real emotional need. When you connect to that true need, then you will be able to align the need to your product or service.

In closing, in order to avoid the biggest mistake that sales people make, simply ask great questions and then actively listen. Rinse and repeat that cycle until the true need is uncovered and then begin to design a solution for the need. Become a master at this and you will see your close rate and productivity increase exponentially.
Brian Wright
Brian Wright> all articles
Brian Wright, Director of Sales for NASP, has 15+ years of experience both in B2C and B2B sales as a Sales Professional and a Sales Leader. Brian has been training with NASP CEO Rod Hairston, NASP and their sister company, Growth-U, since 2015 and is also one of the Association's Certified Advisors.
His primary focus is on partnering with the NASP members to help them maximize their experience in the community, help create pathways to tap into their unlimited capability and take their careers to the next level.
  • /data/userPictures/B8D651BF-5C75-4551-814A-F0033235AA8B.jpgAmpuan Anwar7/4/2018 7:55:54 AM
    Totally agree! and it is not the race of getting a complicated questions, Just ask simple active questions and you will be surprised when your customer answer more proactively and are more engaging in the conversations. Then the active listening took place, this gives opportunity for me as a sales associate to gather much information about the customer to proceed with the presentation or discussion.

  • /data/userPictures/A64D35E2-FF52-4161-8F9F-D92AD1FB7611.jpgKai Ozogul8/1/2018 10:15:57 PM
    "The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent." --Alfred Brendel.

    Everybody loves to talk, who loves to listen?

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureFemale.jpgKatie Cana8/8/2018 9:09:29 AM
    This has made a huge shift for me as a sales professional. I start each conversation with the thought, "this isn't about ME." When you shift the focus from what you are supposed to be saying to what the prospect needs, it is a true game changer. Now, I will shut up and listen! Thanks Brian!

  • /data/userPictures/3272A88C-A375-4A94-AFE1-98ECC8B3EDDE.jpgCarson Baird8/15/2018 4:16:09 PM
    First step of being a customer-first salesperson! If you can't listen, how can you possibly understand their challenges, pains, and their vision of the solution?!

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureMale.jpgDaniel C8/29/2018 5:03:54 PM
    Good advice Brian!

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureMale.jpgScott Kemp8/29/2018 9:20:48 PM
    This is why we have one mouth and two ears. Great article!