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How to Avoid Common Salesperson Mistakes

In sales, every mistake is magnified, which is why steering clear of missteps is one of the most important things reps can do. As part of the sales track on Education Day at ASI Orlando, Gary Michels of Southwestern Consulting not only listed the worst kinds of order-killing errors, but offered up advice on how to increase sales efficiencies.

To break habits that cause mistakes, Michels said “every salesperson has to have a servant-minded attitude. You need to focus on helping clients and not ‘getting’ them. You need to be interested and not interesting.”

According to Michels, some of the most common salesperson mistakes include being a poor listener, not showing empathy and failing to keep up-to-date on what’s going on at clients’ companies. “Knowledge is power and there’s no excuse – with all the information out there online – to not know if a client is doing well or having layoffs or whatever. I also always try to see a client’s point of view,” Michels said. “Remember that sincerity can be felt by your prospect. And with listening, there’s a reason God gave us two ears and one mouth.”

Michels also cautioned attendees that not planning their day effectively is a huge problem for salespeople nowadays. To avoid this trap, “commit to a daily schedule and plan the night before. Make an “A” list of must-do’s, a “B” list of should do’s, and a “C” list of things you can do if you have time,” Michels said. “My advice: Do the As and Bs before 2:00, so you can get to the Cs.”

A few other mistakes Michels highlighted: dressing down too much, not taking good notes during client meetings and underestimating the importance of prospecting. “There are only two things that can make salespeople money: prospecting and presenting. I’d say 60%-70% of your time should be spent on these things.” Try to do everything else that you have to do – the thank-you notes, the research, the paperwork – during off-hours, Michels said. “Some people do this late at night or very early, like 4:30 on Saturday mornings. It’s great because you can hear the birds chirping, but your phone won’t be ringing.”