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Sales • Apr 20th, 2020 • Daniel Bishop

6 Common Sales Rep Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

We take a look at some of the common mistakes sales people make and how to prevent them.

Common Sales Rep Mistakes and How to Prevent Them

Some would say sales is art. Well that does sound like a catchy phrase but let’s face it, it’s not!

We wouldn’t call it art because art has many forms, and more often than not those forms are free and not understandable by your average Joe.  The point of art is to stir emotions and make you think about the subject. Sales and art are comparable only in the amount of mediums through which both can be expressed.

Sales are conducted through different channels depending on which one suits your customer the most. We doubt your customers would appreciate it if your sales process felt like John Coltrane’s “Interstellar Space”, or Wassily Kandinsky’s “Blue Segment”!

The sales process is much closer related to science. Take chemistry, for example. Developing a new chemical product is a process that takes knowledge, precision, timing and confidence. Just like that, your salesperson has to have those traits to succeed in making a sale.

So, let’s take a look at what mistakes sales people make most frequently, and how to prevent them from mixing the wrong elements.

Stop and Listen

Remember those people at high school that had the skill of talking at the speed of light during an oral exam? This technique would sometimes work, and the professor would crumble under the sheer pressure of information devastating their temporal lobe. But more often one carefully placed question would derail the student completely. Similar situations happen in sales.

By using softwares like CRM, you’ll have perfect leads, an intuitive sales pipeline management, and analytics of sales patterns. On top of that your salesperson will have customers buying history, communication records, and personal details.

This might seem perfect, but there’s a catch. With all this power comes great responsibility of how to use it.  On the first glance the potential customer might seem like a perfect fit, but that doesn’t mean that the first call should be: 

“Hi, I see we are a perfect solution to your problem, you can make your first payment to this account.”

When cold calling, it’s important not to come off as too pushy and apathetic towards your customer. Remember, your first interaction is what makes the biggest impact. This is the time to take baby steps which will plant seeds for a long lasting fruitful relationship.

One study shows that the talk to listen ratio should be 43:57 in favour of the customer. 

Be polite and make your pitch, after that listen to your customer’s questions and only ask relevant ones.

Don’t forget to enter all the data gathered during the call in your CRM system to make your future interactions easier.

Don’t Offer Everything You Have

This might be the most common mistake of new sales reps who are overachievers. Being eager to help is a must, but be careful not to offer too much help for nothing, that’s how you become a pro bono consultant.

Not just that you’ll be handing out free valuable information, you are risking to confuse or, even worse, bore your customer. Only tell them what they need to know in the most understandable way possible. Avoid using your Shakespearean vocabulary and save it for your book club. Remember that people nowadays have a very short attention span.

Focus on the Solution and Value

As a sales person it’s important to know all the features of your product. But what if not all of them are important to your prospect? Instead of listing all of them one by one and wasting yours and your prospects time, focus on the ones that solve their problem. 

For example, if you are selling a CRM solution, don’t explain the technicalities of how it works, but talk about how it would upgrade their sales process and increases revenue.

If you think that lowering the price of your product will bring in more customers you might be wrong. If you price your product too low, the psychological effect it has on the customer is that they will see it as a low value product.

Offering discounts and special promotions will only give you a short-term boost in sales as they will go back to normal as soon as the bargain hunters are satisfied. 

What you want is a customer base that’s here to stay, and to do that you need to convince them that you are providing value. It’s always better to buy something more expensive that will pay off down the road.

Be Ready for Objections

Handling objections well is one of the most important skills a sales person can have. Rejection is always hard, but you need to be ready for a ‘’No’’. 

Think of it like this, if your prospect says “No” then when the time comes the value of the “Yes” will increase.

This is a common selling tactic used by car salesmen. First they will show you a couple of old unfit cars, and save the one they want to sell you for the end. At that point you’ll say “Yes” with a feeling that you got a great deal.

Be patient and respectful even when they repeat the same question, ask something irrelevant or just come off as rude. Don’t start your answer with a “As I said before”, that just makes the prospect feel ignorant, and makes your sale harder.

Finally don’t be disheartened if nothing works, not every prospect is meant to be, moreover 50% of prospects are not a good fit.

Don’t Bad Mouth Your Competition

Trying to make your business look better by putting down your competition is one of the worst things you can do. This is one of the mistakes an inexperienced salesperson does in hopes to win over a prospect. To a smart customer this will only show insecurity in your own product.

Instead of giving your competition free airtime, try and emphasise your strengths. If your prospect mentions your competitor, acknowledge their work, or even compliment them, but after that present the benefits of your product. This way you’ll be seen as a company that aims to outperform their competition. 

There’s a much bigger stake here than just losing a prospect. If your remarks go public a lawsuit for slander or defamation might follow.

Don’t be Dishonest

This might be the most obvious sales rep mistake, but it’s the one that occurs most frequently. Green sales reps tend to over exaggerate the capabilities of their product just to hook a prospect.

Even worse is when they hide limitations and costs that might come up after the initial purchase. This is a mistake, relationships funded on lies always crumble. 

The solution here is to slightly under promise but over deliver. This could be done during the the free trial stage, as your customers are not expecting much.

Remember, never push a sale just for the sake of selling. Not only will you lose that prospect, but your whole brand image might suffer and cause you to lose much more. 


Whether you are a greenhorn in sales or a seasoned sales guru try and always listen, be empathetic and do your best to solve your prospects concerns.

Most of these sales rep mistakes are not irreparable but if you can avoid them you’ll notice a significant improvement in sales and in customer satisfaction.

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