How to avoid the biggest sales pitfalls

Whether your business provides products or services, it involves selling. And selling is an art. But unlike that abstract painting you did in art class, you can’t really afford to make mistakes.

Here are 10 of the most common sales pitfalls and how to avoid them.

1. Selling to the non-buyer

Avoid selling to the non-buyer. If your prospect doesn’t have the problem your product or service solves – don’t waste your time trying to sell to them. It will only drain your sales resources and won’t deliver any results.

According to Hubspot, 50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting. And that brings us to the next sales pitfall – a poor qualification process. 

2. A poor qualification process

Closing a deal successfully is often linked to well-qualified prospects. These are potential customers who align with your buyer personas, whether they have shown an interest in your product or not.

To help your salespeople find the best-fit customers, your qualification criteria must be clear. What is your customer value proposition? How does your product add value?

3. No defined sales process

A poorly defined sales process forces salespeople to use ad-hoc methods – leading to haphazard results and negative customer experiences. When you provide your team with a framework to follow, even inexperienced reps will quickly get the hang of selling.

A typical sales process involves seven steps: 1) Prospecting; 2) Qualifying leads; 3) Researching the qualified prospect; 4) Pitching your product; 5) Handling objections; 6) Closing the deal; and 7) Nurturing the relationship. You can tailor the process to suit your business.

4. No documented sales plan

A sales plan ensures the team knows what they need to do to hit their sales targets. When a sales plan exists, you can monitor your team’s progress and adjust tactics to meet the overall strategic objective.

Therefore, a sales plan should provide strategic direction. Include your sales goals, and outline roles and responsibilities. When people understand their duties and how they fit into the organisation’s vision, performance can increase by 10%.

5. Relying on tools to support a poor process

First define your sales process. Tools alone will not provide a solution for a poor sales process. Instead, tools are meant to enhance your performance – not drive it.

6. Price and product details before value

If a prospect is not willing to allow you to understand their needs, they are not interested in your services. Your focus should be on helping your customers, not selling to them. Again, this goes back to starting with a clear qualification process to find customers who are a good fit for your business.

7. Not leveraging existing relationships

Eliminate the concerns of your prospects through reliable and referable clients and their references. Testimonials help to build trust in prospective buyers. Share these references on your website and social media and in your company profile and sales enablement kits. 

8. Not investing in and reinforcing training

Regularly assess the skills needed to take your sales team to the next level and invest in training them frequently. It will pay off over time. Keep in mind that 84% of sales training is forgotten in the first three months.

9. Failure to use a sales management process (SMP) to mitigate risk

Your SMP should communicate how you intend to manage results, change and performance.

10. Not documenting a sales process

Document and communicate your sales process often to ensure everyone in your team stays on the same page. Use visual tools like infographics and videos to explain the process simply.

Your SMP should communicate how you intend to manage results, change and performance.

How it works

1. Take the test

Our Diagnostic Tool identifies the gaps holding you back.

2. Book a strategy workshop

Together we map out the right solution to get everyone on the same page.

3. Get the tools

We develop the tools to empower your team and move them forward. These tools include infographics, presentations, videos, and sales enablement kits.


Find out more

If you’d like to find out more we offer a 30 min discover call.

Based on the outcome, we problem-solve with you to create a way forward that empowers you and your staff.

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About Garth Jemmett

Garth Jemmett is the founder of We Explain Stuff. He helps business leaders escape complexity by making strategies, processes, products and services easy to understand.

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