10 Biggest Sales Mistakes and How to Avoid Them Like the Plague

10 Biggest Sales Mistakes and How to Avoid Them Like the Plague

Owning a small business means you’re in the business of selling, whether that’s your product or your services.

Luckily, sales skills can be learned much like a sport or a hobby and the more practice you get, the better you’ll be. Qualities in outstanding salesmen include being proactive, friendly and disciplined.

Selling is an art and by fine-tuning your skills, you’ll see an immediate increase in sales when it comes to your small business.

Here, we’re looking at 10 of the biggest sales mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.

Not Listening to the Customer

If you’re doing all the talking, there’s a problem. Successful salesmen are slow to speak, but quick to listen. Your job is to meet the needs of the customer, not to fulfil some quota.

To avoid this, ask questions to your customer. Find out their needs and come up with a solution.

Being Too Aggressive

Car salesmen have a bad reputation for being too pushy. You can’t walk onto a lot without being bombarded with people just waiting to sell you the most expensive car on the lot. In your business, don’t be the one your customers are trying to get away from.

To avoid this, let your customers know you’re available for questions and then back off. Let them browse in peace and make a decision in private.

Not Focusing on the Solution

Too often, salesman and business owners are focused on the discounts and deals rather than meeting the needs of the customer. Ask yourself, “How is this product/service going to help my customers?”

To avoid this, try not to think about making a sale. Instead, focus on helping the customer and finding a solution to their problem.

Not Asking for the Business

You’ve just spent an hour with a potential customer and they’re about to walk out the door. Many business owners miss out on sales simply because they don’t ask the customer for their business.

To avoid this, ask the customer what they’d like to do without being pushy. You can ask if they have any other questions or what they’re concerns may be. You’ll never miss out on a sale by asking for it at the end of your presentation.

Speaking Only to One Person

Often, business owners “sell” and “present” to the man if a couple were to come in (or whomever they believe is the decision-maker). You’ll most likely miss out on huge selling opportunities by not including and speaking to everyone in the group.

To avoid this, include everyone in the conversation. If it’s a couple, ask both people questions and look to find a solution or product that suits both of their needs.

Not Showing Confidence

There’s a difference between being confident and being pushy. Learn it and use it to your advantage. Confident salesmen truly believe in their product or service and know that it will help their customers. Pushy people don’t necessarily believe in the product, they simply want the sale.

To avoid this, learn as much as you can about your customer base, your product or service, and how it will help them. The more knowledgeable you are about the product and the more you believe in it, the better chance you’ll have at closing the deal.

Getting Off Topic

While you want to get your customers trust, you don’t want to get so far off topic that you run out of time to make a sale. It’s great to get to know your customers, but try to stick to solving their problem rather than learning their entire life story.

To avoid this, keep the end goal in mind. Introduce yourself, be friendly and start listening to the customer. Remember, you’re trying to find a solution to their problem, not make a lifelong friend.

Being Judgmental

Just because someone “looks” like they can’t afford your product doesn’t mean they can’t. You can miss out on huge sales by not giving people the time and attention they deserve.

To avoid this, treat all potential customers equally, regardless of race, religion, gender or appearance.

Forgetting to Follow Up

Oftentimes, people may need a few days to think things over before committing to your product or service. That’s OK, as not all sales are made that day.

To avoid this, send an email or make a phone call to your potential customer within two days of meeting with them. Keep it short and sweet by thanking them for their time and letting them know they can contact you with any further questions.

Not Seeking Out New Business

Business owners can sometimes get so caught up in what’s in front of them (employees, new products, current customers) that they forget to continue advertising and reaching new people.

To avoid this, business owners and salesmen need to be in the habit of constantly looking for new business. Whether sales are high or low, new business should always be a top priority. Dedicate a set amount of time each day to get new customers into your store or place of business.

What selling mistakes have you made in the past? Share in the comments below!

Contamination Suits Photo via Shutterstock


Donny Gamble Donny Gamble Jr. is founder of Personal Income. A published author, and investor, he graduated from The Ohio State University and has a passion for teaching others about alternative investment and retirement strategies.

6 Reactions
  1. #1, #2 and #3 are often problematic in combination. A good salesman will ask what the customer is looking for (to understand what solution is needed) and then listen to the response. If the response indicates the customer is still looking, but has no questions then you back off. If the response shows doubt or need, then respond with relevant information to help the customer find the solution they need. It seems easy, but takes a lot of practice.

  2. Great tips! Love the way you described each point. I am not 100% sure I agree with totally backing off, but we are service oriented so we are a bit different. Thanks for sharing!

  3. You should always listen to your customers regardless if they have something good or bad to say. Feedback is feedback and you can always learn from it especially if it is about improving your business.

  4. I think some of the biggest things that will spoil any business is the lack of attention, not returning calls, and not keeping promises. The hard part where you blow the customer over the head doesn’t effect anymore either, most people are too informed these days.