21 November 2008

The ten biggest and most common sales mistakes.

I was recently asked by a journalist what I feel the ten biggest mistakes are when it comes to selling? Trying to narrow this down to 10 was difficult, as I feel very strongly that selling skills in Australia are generally pretty bad (in fact I think they are bad all over the world).

So here are my top ten most common sales mistakes – if you can add any more to the list, please drop me a note in the comment box – 

1. Sales people not being prepared when making a sales presentation.

2. Poorly presented sales people (dirty or wrinkly clothes, poor personal grooming, body odour etc). 

3. Poor or non existent product knowledge – that is the sales people can’t give you any advice because they know nothing about the products that they are selling.

4. Sales people with a bad attitude – everything is a hassle. 

5. Sales people who don’t listen to what the customer wants.

6. Making a promise to follow up with a customer and then not doing it. 

7. Not having clear sales goals. 

8. Not being “present” with the customer – that is the sales person’s mind is elsewhere.  

9. Not being compelling and definite when it comes to making a recommendation to a customer.  

10. Poor communication skills – no eye contact, mumbling, one word answers.  

I guess at times we have all been guilty of a few of the above, but now is a good time to stop and see if you can put a tick against any of these bad habits, or do any of your staff have them. Knowing where you are going wrong is a great place to start  to get it right. 


6 thoughts on “The ten biggest and most common sales mistakes.”

  1. I hate it when people pounce on you the second you are in the door saying “are you happy just browsing” “can I help with something” – some industries are more guilty of this than others. I like people that take genuine interest in you – in a fun way. Best example thats happened to me, I was in a furniture shop sitting on a lazy boy, cool sales guy came up and dared me to stretch out flat which automatically made the chair a real lazy boy. He wasnt trying to sell to me, he was just helping us ‘experience’ the furniture – no pressure, just fun and friendlyness.

  2. Hi Allison,

    I couldn’t agree more. Make people laugh and be genuine in your interactions and everything else will fall into place. Thanks for the input.



  3. Geoff Beck says:

    Hi Andrew,

    All of the above in one person/point of sale…. experienced that before.

    One of my biggest pet-hates is a lack of affirmativeness from point of sale attendant, waiting for an un-necessary amount of time to get served or even being acknowledged.

    Just lately I have walked out of a couple of shops/restaurant due to no one wanting to serve me or conscious of my presents. These point of sales outlets not only lose a single sale, but future sales, and consequently I’ll only tell others of my experience who are more than likely not going to waste there time experiencing the same. The ramifications for someone/point of sale failing in just one of your ten above are potentially huge.


  4. Hey there Geoff,

    What amazes me is that someone will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, to set up a business, and then put some untrained, uninterested, bad attitude person behind the cash register. To me this is the biggest job in the business.

    Oh well, spread the word and hopefully it will make a difference. See how sales skills and service pick up as things get a bit tougher out there. Sadly too little too late for some businesses I think.

    Thanks for your input Geoff.


  5. I’ve often wanted to contact the owners of a business and tell them how poorly their staff represent them. Many is the time that I’ve walked out of stores because I couldn’t get the attention of a sales person – they weren’t interested. One such store was a well known Electronics store and I was in the market for a new computer – this was a few years ago. The Indian sales guy followed my husband around but ignored me – although I was the one asking the questions. He kept answering my husband as though he was the one that asked. We walked out in disgust and I rang the manager to tell him he’d lost a $2K sale because the sales guy wouldn’t acknowledge me as the potential buyer. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall and listen to that conversation!

  6. Sangria says:

    Hello Andrew.

    I think you are right on the money when you say that the selling skills in Australia are lacking.

    I think there are so many external factors such as education levels, age, ethnicity, emotional intelligence etc that drive a sales person to present such bad selling approaches and experiences. I used to teach in a college in the evenings in Sydney and the DOS of the College was an intelligent person but lacked thorough understanding and usage of the English language. He worked as the DOS for 4 days of the week and then the reminder 3 days worked in Woolies. After 3 months of teaching in a disorganized environment, I decided to label his moods as the ‘Woolies Complex’. He seemed to blur his role as a DOS and Woolies supervisor and as result just wreak havoc in the college workplace and amongst the college students.

    I think a bad salesmanship is a presentation of individual efforts and abilities or lack thereof. I doubt that businesses would appreciate such individuals to become front line personnel and ruin profits. I believe such bad retail practices is also a representation of how we, the ‘X’ generation deal with the ‘Y’ generation. Trust me, the ‘Y’s are a shocker!!!

    So once again the generational gap has just widened as we embark on this discovery that we have let the future of businesses in the hands of such sloppy generation who have no concept of respect, boundaries and unity!!

    Come to think about it once again ‘perspectives’ are evolving faster than the business landscapes!

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