5 mistakes every sales professional makes – and how to avoid them

The sales process can sometimes seem like one of M.C. Escher’s optical illusions; the ones where the stairs wind around each other, criss-crossing and overlapping with no sense of an ending.

At least, the process feels like this if you don’t have a plan. Designing a well thought-out strategy is the essential first step in creating a cohesive and accessible sales plan that is sure to get your company leads that convert.

The first thing to remember is that most failed sales strategies share the same mistakes, hurdles and pitfalls – by learning what they are, you then just have to design ways to overcome them.

Here, we outline three out of five key steps in refining your sales process. To read more in-depth about these three and two more bonus steps, download the e-book Breaking past Escher’s Stairs: Top 5 Sales Mistakes to Avoid.

Mistake #1: No clearly defined sales process

When you land your first lead after hours of hard work, it can be so tempting to rush into the conversation without first defining your plan of attack. However, even though it’s important to make contact with the lead as quickly as possible, all your swiftness will be for nothing when your sales plan falls apart.

Before you even get your lead – before you even start marketing – figure out what steps your customer is going to want to undertake before they’re convinced to buy your product. What do they want from you? Your website? Your product? Outline your communication strategy ahead of time, and work out how you’re going to nurture leads so they turn from warm to hot (instead of cooling right down).

Mistake #2: No value or needs discovery

Picture this. You design a piece of software that is going to make every small business’s accounting dreams come true. You create a website and optimise it so the site’s easily found by customers typing ‘accounting for SMEs’ in their Google search bar. Your product looks great and you know that, once downloaded, it’s easy to integrate into the company’s accounting functions. In fact, you think it will become an essential part of any accounting arm’s day-to-day.

But does your customer know that too?

You might have the most brilliant product in the world, but unless you articulate your value proposition to customers, they won’t feel the need to buy, download or consume.

Unless you can make them see how your product will help them and their business, your sale will be lost. Write down how your product is unique and figure out how it will help businesses. Make it irresistible to even the toughest clients; and then tell them why they want it.

Mistake #3: Product pushing

Yes, you work in sales. Yes, the customer knows that. No, you don’t want to come across as that typical sales person.

Think about it – when you’re looking for a solution for a major problem, how helpful is a pushy sales person going to be? Not very helpful, is the answer and, more than that, pushiness can actually be detrimental to your chance of closing a deal.

Instead of adopting the mindset of ‘sell, sell, sell’, take a step back and approach the conversation with the customer’s perspective in mind. They’re not looking for a product; they’re seeking a solution; one that will alleviate their stress and make their jobs easier. Understand their goals and sell them the way to achieve them.

Download the e-book to find clear, actionable steps on how to achieve these three outcomes, and find a bonus two chapters that outline common sales mistakes.


Sales is a theme we cover quite extensively in the online academy. You can find modules and workbooks in  the Opportunity catalogue, The ‘Rocket’ , ‘Orbit’, ‘Wow’ and ‘Social’ programs are sales and customer experience related. I’ve also designed a continually available profile to get seasonally rotating taster content from the primary subscription catalogues of the academy. Then, when you’re comfortable, you can elect the relevant academies for your personal growth

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