8 Bad Selling Habits You Need to Fix

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Salespeople get a bad rap. A recent HubSpot study, asked respondents to submit the word they most associated with salespeople.

The #1 response? “Pushy.”

Yikes. Persistence is part of being a salesperson. In fact, 80% of sales require five or more follow-ups. And there’s an obvious difference between consistently adding a bit of value with each check-in and doggedly pursuing prospects who have, in no uncertain terms, told you they’re not interested.

But the contrast between persistence and pushiness isn’t always so clear. If you’re doing any of the things on the list below, you might be coming off as pushy without even realizing it.

Here are 10 Bad Selling Habits You Need to Fix

1) You start talking about your product / service right away

What you think: Your product / service is great! Why wouldn’t a prospect want to hear about it?

Why it’s bad: Never lead by talking about your product or service. Unless your prospect is already quite familiar with your value proposition, try building a rapport and getting to understand your buyers needs, wants, and challenges. Once there you can dive into talking about your product / service. 

2) You use a lot of declarative words and phrases (“should,” “have to,” “need to,” etc.)

What you think: You try to spend time during each sales pitch giving advice and sharing best practices with your prospects.

Why it’s bad: Your intentions are noble, so keep doing what you’re doing. The problem here is a matter of semantics. Telling a prospect repeatedly what they “should” or “have to” or “need to” do comes off as bossy and condescending even if your only intent is to help. Instead, try phrases like, “Businesses like yours have seen success …” or “What we’ve found drives results is …” Let your results speak for themselves.

3) You make statements instead of asking questions

What you think: You’re an expert on the vertical you sell into, so there are a few safe assumptions you can make about your prospect’s business.

Why it’s bad: While your prospect’s business might function like the hundreds you’ve seen before in their industry, you don’t necessarily know the specifics. Even if you have a pretty good sense of what the answer might be, asking questions such as, “So I’ve seen X problem a lot at companies like yours, are you experiencing something similar?” shows your prospect that you care about their unique perspective, while simultaneously showing off your expertise. Remember: establishing a relationship and presenting a customized sales pitch is a must if you want to have successful sales. 

4) You start every objection answer with “But … “

What you think: You’re just trying to handle objections, and “but” is the first filler word that comes to mind.

Why it’s bad: Constantly saying “but” comes off as argumentative and puts prospects on the defensive. Instead, try the Ransberger Pivot:

  1. Acknowledge your prospect’s objections.
  2. Understand their hesitation, or ask questions until you do.
  3. Find a common goal burned in your prospect’s objections, and build on it to convince them your offering is the best way to achieve that end.

5) You treat all objections equally

What you think: You (understandably) want to make the sale, so sometimes you find yourself on autopilot when answering objections.

Why it’s bad: There’s a significant difference between, “This problem is a priority for us, but let’s wait until next quarter to talk … “ and “We’ve had seven straight quarters of losses — we just can’t afford to implement anything right now.”

Not all objections are created equal. Some can be resolved simply by educating your prospect. Some are a result of inertia and can be mitigated by creating a sense of urgency. But there are always objections that stop a deal in its tracks, and treating those like minor concerns that can be talked away won’t endear you to your prospects. Learn to spot the difference between brush-offs, points of confusion, and true blockers.

6) Your calls-to-action don’t align with your prospect’s buying stage

What you think: You can tell your buyer has the business pain your product or service solves, and you want to help them by jumping into a formal sales process.

Why it’s bad: Just because you can tell a buyer suffers from X business pain doesn’t mean they’ve realized it yet. So even if a call-to-action will eventually be useful for them (like a product demo), offering it when they’re still in the education stage just makes it seem like you’re rushing them along because you want to close a deal. Instead, move the sales process forward by teaching your buyers about their problems and helping them devise a solution. 

7) Looking for Moby Dick

What you thinkThe “white whale” is that big account that makes your sale quota.

Why it’s bad: Chasing the whale is enticing, but all too frequently results in a lot of work swallowed by a black void. When at the last minute the “whale” doesn’t sign the contract, you’re left falling short. Which isn’t to say that you should stop chasing any whales—just don’t. But instead, don’t be afraid to pursue the smaller accounts, after all, everything adds up in the end.

8) Following Your Gut

What you think: People like to think they are intuitive – especially sales people, and that’s not always the best option. 

Why it’s bad: The problem with going with your gut is that a lot of things happen in your gut that aren’t particularly pleasant.

Do your research, qualify your leads, don’t go on wild goose chases. There are only so many hours in the day, make them productive by following leads likely to result in a sale, not leads that make your gut feel good. Save that for going out to dinner.

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