4 dumb sales mistakes that smart people make

4 dumb sales mistakes that smart people make

When you make mistakes in sales, your propsects likely won't tell you. Instead, they'll let their money do the talking—and close the deal with a competitor.

You don't want this to happen and neither do we.

That's why we’ve identified four of the biggest mistakes that sales professionals make and how you can avoid them.

1. Overselling on the very first point of contact

In sales, it’s very easy to fall in love with the product you’re selling.

This infatuation with your product often leads to obsessing over all the different features, bells and whistles. Unfortunately, while passion is great for conveying confidence in your product, it can often lead to sales professionals overwhelming their prospects with information—and a swift “delete” from prospects' inboxes.

Rather than sending an email that is short and sweet, too many sales professionals are sending emails that look like this:


You might think that giving a prospect all of this information up front is a good thing. In reality, no one cares about your product until you show give them a good reason to care.

Strive to keep your first message short and sweet. Like this:


The email above is very concise and straight to the point.

I’ve sent cold emails using this exact format and have had cold leads respond letting me know how much they appreciate the conciseness of the email.

You want your cold leads to not only read but also respond to your emails. Keeping them concise will help make that a reality. However, it’s not the only thing you can do to increase the likelihood of a response.

2. Giving your cold leads homework after first contact

Every Monday, executives from across the country wonder how they’ll tackle everything on their to-do list. As a sales professional, the last thing you want to do is add more work to a prospect's plate at first contact.

In the first email example we showed you, there are three requests being made.

  1. Click here to watch a video tutorial.
  2. See attached for a 3 page PDF.
  3. What time would work for a call?

A sales pro who uses one call to action in their outreach is a sales pro who understands human behavior. [Tweet this!]

Over the years, I’ve found that fewer calls to action in your cold emails can play a huge role in driving response. One call to action works best, especially when it’s short and the answer can be delivered in less than a sentence.

Here’s an example of a call to action you can use in your emails:

  • “Rather than having you read through a lengthy email, how about we lock in a quick 10-minute call?”
  • “I’ve reviewed your product and think that we can achieve X if we start moving on this soon. Can I send you a bit more info?”

In both of these cases, the homework for your prospect is limited. The answer can also be delivered in one sentence, which lessens the burden on your prospect. This is a weight off their shoulders and gives you a chance to move quickly and optimize your time.

3. Being uncomfortable with silence on calls

Silence is one of the most underutilized conversation tool.

It’s underutilized because when people think of silence, they often place the word awkward in front of it and reject the idea of having that experience.

Some of the best sales professionals struggle with this. Rather than listening to understand their prospects needs, they impatiently wait for their turn to speak.

If you ask a prospect a question and they give you a partial or short answer, wait.

Stay silent, stay calm and let them be the one to keep the conversation going. You will find that in this moment of silence, their response will be quickly followed up with a rationalization or solution.

George Ludwig, a trainer on sales strategy and peak performance psychology suggests that salespeople leave intentional breaks of silence in key places of dialog. The silence could be after a question or after a customer responds to something the salesperson said.

The intent of these breaks of silence is to give the customer more time to reflect and respond. As a result, you're giving yourself a greater chance to really understanding what they said as they begin to elaborate further.

And staying silent during a negotiation can be worth a lot of money. In one case, it saved us $225,000.

Embrace silence. It’s a powerful tool.

4. Wasting time following up rather than breaking up

Building rapport by reaching out to a prospect more than twice is a tried and proven approach for closing more deals. The challenge is that some sales professionals are so relentless with their follow-ups that they never have the opportunity to send a break up email.

The break-up email is one of the most effective follow up emails you can send to a prospect who hasn’t been responding to emails. It’s a tactic that has been used for years in the dating world and can be used in business just the same.

It’s the idea that people want what they can’t have. It’s the idea of transferring a bit of guilt so the other person scrambles to speak with you or make things right.

The best break up emails trigger an emotion that drives action. Here’s a great example of a perfect break up email that can be sent after multiple attempts to follow up:


Rather than following up over and over again, use the break up email to end the relationship and test a variety of emails to gauge which drives that final response.

If you haven't read my post on breakup emails that elicit responses from prospects, do this now.

Never stop learning

Now that you understand the mistakes that most salespeople make, you’re armed and ready to avoid them at all cost. You can take these tips into the workforce and be more effective and efficient than ever before.

One of the other mistakes that too many sales professionals make is they stop learning new tricks. So hats off to you for taking the step of reading this blog post. You’re already steps ahead of many of your competitors.

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