Avoid Five Errors That Many Salespeople Make

Most of my working life has been spent in sales. There have been examples of good, bad and ugly that have stayed with me over the years. During the time that I’ve been involved in training and coaching salespeople, I’ve seen and experienced ideas and techniques that have worked so well that I have been convinced and persuaded to buy. I’ve also experienced attempts to sell to me that have left me almost speechless in wonder that this person chose this profession to make a living.

I could sum up the biggest errors that salespeople make in five easy-to-remember terms. Here’s my take on what the poorest salespeople do…see if you agree and please do let me know your biggest errors.

Let’s take the word ERROR and see how it applies:

The first error is that they don’t learn from their EXPERIENCES. Many salespeople will fail to close or lose a sale and blame other things for that failure. They’ll criticise the prospect (they wouldn’t know a good deal if it hit them in the face), or the product (how do they expect us to sell this stuff?), or the competition (they’re bigger, better and cheaper than us…how am I supposed to compete?).

Better salespeople don’t make this basic error. They take lessons from their experiences, identify what needs to change to enhance it and work on making sure the same mistake doesn’t happen again.

Error number two…They don’t build expert RAPPORT with their prospects. Many buyers will build up trust with their suppliers and this is built on the good relationship that they enjoy with them. It starts with establishing a common ground and level of understanding between both parties. Better salespeople start the sale by getting on the right wavelength with the prospect and showing the personal touch before they move the sale on.

Error number three….The type of RELATIONSHIP between the client and supplier is not forged successfully. Many clients complain that their supplier takes time and effort to ‘court’ them when they want their business, but after the sale the attention is not as acute, and it generally is left to go its own way, only being addressed when there are problems or challenges. Better salespeople keep the lines of relationship open and developing as the servicing continuous.

Error number four…Their ORGANISATION is poor. I often ask salespeople how much of their sales figures they know, and it’s shocking to see the lack of knowledge they have. Organisation skills are sadly lacking for most. This doesn’t just involve how many sales they’ve made and the profitability of those sales, but also key account management skills, territory management and time management abilities. Better salespeople organise themselves to support the sales opportunities they have created themselves and through their company.

Error number five…They don’t REALISE their Potential. It’s a shame that many salespeople don’t live up to their potential, allowing their careers to mellow and plateau instead of growing to reach the goals they could achieve. By not having a journey towards personal development targets, many have failed to build entrepreneurial mindsets that would have seen them achieve so much. Better salespeople see opportunities to take their careers onto a higher level, reach closer to their potential and hence reap the rewards of a successful journey.

These aren’t the only five errors, of course, but they are the ones to which I’ve seen many sales people fall foul. Avoid these errors and you’ll build a good reputation and have the chance to succeed where many others have failed.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training


(Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

10 Reasons Why Salespeople Fail

In our consultancies and trainings with salespeople, we consistently get asked how to be successful in the career they have chosen. There are so many answers to this question, and many books have been written with authors’ opinions on what makes people a success in sales in today’s modern world.

I thought it appropriate to discuss this from the opposite angle today. By asking the question ‘what makes salespeople fail?’ we get a different perspective and identify the consistent traits that occur in people who don’t achieve their goals and objectives. take a look at our top ten and see if you agree and (more importantly) can add to them.

1) They haven’t changed their prospecting methods to match the needs of today’s buyers.

Many salespeople still buy lists, pick up the phone and make their cold calls to people they know nothing about, trying to get them interested in a product they (the prospect) know nothing about and don’t know why they need it. No wonder these salespeople are crying out for tips on how to cold call more effectively…they get rejected more times than they can cope with.

2) They are too reactive.

Many salespeople who fail simply wait for their company to provide them with the leads, then blame the company for providing leads that don’t materialise into sales. They don’t think proactively or make their own leads work for them.

3) The main emotion that they rely on is hope.

They hope this deal will materialise after they have sent a proposal. They hope their website will bring in scores of enquiries. They hope their pipeline will fill up, even though they haven’t spent any time nurturing it. Hope, hope, hope.

4) They blame everything else for their failures, without looking at what’s in their sphere of influence.

We often can see a failure a mile off; they’re the ones who blame other things for their problems (the economy, the competition, their boss, the products they sell, the leads, etc, etc) instead of thinking about what they can influence and affect.

5) They live in Pity City, instead of just visiting and passing on.

My trainers often tell me they deal with salespeople who want answers but then criticise every possible solution with the proverbial ‘Yeah, but….’

Many people have every right to feel pity for themselves because of what is going on within their company or because their competition are wiping the floor with them. But we need to see what can be done to progress, rather than living in a state of mind that keeps us trapped in feeling sorry for ourselves.

6) They don’t manage their time effectively.

Time is one of the most important things you have to work with. Too many salespeople don’t invest their time effectively enough. You can be really busy, really efficient, but it doesn’t always equate to effectiveness. Salespeople who fail don’t think hard enough how their time can be utilised to assist themselves and their clients

7) They don’t utilise their phone skills well enough.

The phone is a great ally for salespeople, but many think they should try to sell using it. Today’s modern buyer is very wary of making any decision, and it’s rare to find someone deciding to make a big change over the phone. The failure comes by not knowing the true use of the phone, which is to confirm arrangements, build interest and create desire.

8) They fail to engage clients

Many failures occur because salespeople are unable to describe what life will be like when the customer is actually using the product or service. The salesperson still thinks that waxing on about the features and benefits will make the prospect leap for joy and wonder how they had got by without the product. With no engagement, the buyer loses interest and stalls or brings up objections. They need to see how their business will be different, how things will be better, what problems will be solved. No engagement means no decision.

9) They don’t know how to split their time between hunting and farming.

Farming for new business from existing clients is important. So is hunting for business from new prospects. Knowing how to differentiate between the two, and what support existing users need from you, is vital to create good use of time.

10) They have forgotten how important it is to constantly learn, grow and develop.

Most learning in sales occurs in the field, in the real world. How many books have you read in the last 12 months that can make a real impact on the way you serve your clients? How many times have you shared learning experiences with colleagues or your boss and changed your approaches to make sure you develop your skills?

Many failures don’t take their skill development seriously and consider that things they learned 5 or 10 years ago will suffice in today’s world. Sorry…they won’t. Failing to recognise that sales is a developing business is the same as thinking that the buyers who were around 5 or 10 years ago are still here today.

These are my ideas of what makes salespeople fail. Add your own and let me know them. I’ll compile a list and publish them soon.

Before I sign off, here are some more tips on becoming a great sales person:

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training


(Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

3 Ways To Mess Up A Perfectly Good Sale

I teach a lot of “Best Practices” here at MTD Sales Training. However, every once in a while, it’s time to explore some of those “Worst Practices.”

You can do a few things at the end of the sales process that completely ruins everything. The prospecting process went perfect. One telephone call set the appointment and the sales interaction went exactly as planned. Finally, the prospect said, “Ok, let’s do it!” Then, everything went awry. Below are three ways to pull-the-plug on a sale you closed.

#1 – Too Happy
Throughout the sales process, the sales person exhibited a pleasant and professional, yet serious demeanour. He was all business, and during the close, there was an obvious amount of tension in the air. Finally, the prospect agrees to buy and the sales person suddenly turns into someone who seems to have just hit the mega-world lottery!

You have to keep your cool after the prospect says yes. I have seen sales people start spending their commission before they finish writing up the order. Of course, there is a certain amount of relief involved, but you have to try not to show euphoria.

If you turn into a different person after the prospect agrees to buy, it will make the prospect feel as though your joy will come at their expense. Calm down.

#2 – Thank You—-Good-bye!
Another sure way to make the prospect begin to think twice about their decision is to rush out of the door or off the telephone as soon as you have a buying decision. You have to slow down and take your time. Some sales people are so afraid the prospect will change his or her mind that they are ready to run out of the door the instant they have a signature.

#3 – The Devil is in the Details
In combination with the above, many sales people rush through the paper work or other logistics involved in the closing the sale. The sale is not done, not closed and not actually sold, until you have dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s. Be careful not to run slip-shod with the details.

So remember to calm it down, slow it down and write it down!

Before I sign off, here are some more tips on becoming a great sales person:

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Digital Art)

3 Ways NOT To Handle The Prospect Who Is Shocked By Your Price

You went through the entire sales interaction without much problem.  However, as soon as you mention the price, the prospect, noticeably stunned, slips into a comatose gaze, and a look that says, “Are you kidding?!”

As mentioned in, “3 Ways To Handle The Prospect Who Is Shocked By Your Price,” when the sales interaction fails to uncover problems and pain or build value, there are but a few steps you can take to possibly save the sale.  However, here are three things you should not do, in this situation.

The Three DON’Ts

#1.  Don’t Try to Justify the Price
The only way to justify the price is to rationalize and defend the price, which only further diminishes the value.

“Well, our pricing is in line with the industry…”

 “Our price is lower than most of our competitors…”

“Due to the economy and oil prices, our costs go up…”

“Sticker Shock” at the end of the sales interaction is not a reaction to price; it is a matter of value and likely a failure of several steps in the sales process.

#2. Don’t Begin Discounting the Price
Do not lower the price!  Changing the price or the offer at this point only proves the prospect was correct in that your price was outrageous.  Sadly, some sales people justify the price and discount it at the same time; driving the value of their product and company into the ground.

#3.  Don’t Agree
Many sales people like to agree or empathise with the prospect in this situation.  This is a mistake.  There is a time to agree that your price is high, even to brag about your high rates.  However, that is only when you have built the value to where the prospect feels it is significantly higher than the price.   If the perceived value is so low that the prospect is shocked by the price, then do not agree.  Don’t use statements like:

“Yes, it is high, Mr Prospect, but everything costs more these days.”

If you routinely get prospects that feel your pricing is extraordinarily high, understand that you have more than a pricing problem.  In fact, you may not have a price problem at all.  Conversely,  you probably have very serious problems within your sales process, your sales interaction, and in building value.

Before I sign off, here are some more tips on becoming a great sales person:

Happy Selling


Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

What This Means To You Is….

During the past 2 weeks my wife and I have had about 6 different conservatory companies around our house giving us quotes.

The standards of salesmanship have been appalling to be honest.

The two biggest problems that they had was: (and please avoid these yourself!)

1. Not qualifying me up front

One guy had DVD’s, a slick presentation, “salesmans patter” etc etc He went on and on and I let him until after 1 hour he “revealed” the price which was over twice the amount I had in my mind.

He’d just wasted an hour of his valuable prospecting time and more importantly my wife had missed Eastenders! (drat!)

Lesson: Qualifiy up front!

Sure, I could have gone a little higher if I’d have seen the value in it. But over twice my budget is a different ballpark altogether!

2. Talking features not benefits

“I’d recommend that because you’ve got a south facing garden that you have an electric ridgeflow as well…”


Me no understand!

So what!

What does it mean to me!

The salesman probably fell into one of the most common faults a lot of salespeople have. They are so close to the product and service that they expect me to know what an “electric ridgeflow” actually is!

Well, I didn’t have a scooby doo!

Now when covering features make sure that you actually tell the prospect what it means to them.

Never assume that they’ll be able to work it out for themselves. Instead you need to tell them!

So when you’ve covered a feature follow it up with something like:

“What this means to you is that when the temperature reaches 90 degrees at the top of the conservatory that the hot air gets sucked out which keeps it cool whether you are in there or not. You mentioned that you want the room as a playroom for Holly? Well, with a south facing garden you’re going to get the sun all day and that means that Holly can play in there and you don’t need to worry that she’s too hot…”

Lesson: Tell your prospects what things mean!

So there you have two, fundamentally basic but very valuable lessons. Two lessons that you think are just plain old common sense.

But when was ever common sense, common practice!

Before I sign off, here are some more tips on becoming a great sales person:

Happy selling!


Sean McPheat
The Sales Jedi
MTD Sales Blog

MTD Sales Training

Telephone: 0800 849 6732

Don’t Under Promise And Over Deliver

If you’re a subscriber to the “under promise and over deliver” philosophy then you’ll probably not survive in sales for too long.

I’ve read so many books that say you must under promise and then over deliver and I just shake my head at every single one!

Here’s why:

1. If you under promise you’ll most likely not win the business in the first place because prospects today want to be “surprised” and “excited” by what you offer

2. The modern day buyer can sniff out when you’re not “offering the best you can”

3. You should accurately promise and then try your very best to over deliver far above that promise

4. Your clients and prospects have very high expectations so you continually need to raise the bar

5. The modern day buyer is fully aware of the under promise and over deliver approach so they will know when you’re trying it on!

Overall, we need to raise the standards of sales professionalism worldwide. By “under promising” means we are not doing the best possible job we can for our clients.

Instead, we need to work with our prospects and clients to accurately determine what we can do and then strive to over deliver on that promise.

Happy selling!


Sean McPheat
The Sales Jedi
MTD Sales Blog

MTD Sales Training

Telephone: 0800 849 6732

Truth in Selling

Truth in Selling

There is a big difference between what’s legal and what’s right. As professional sales people, we must hold integrity above all else, including the letter of the law. Honesty is key, misleading, deliberately confusing and bamboozling sales advertising, literature and talk is no more acceptable today than the old school smile and dial rhetoric of the past.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

A new car dealer was using this misleading statement: “Bankruptcy Sale”

Bank Owned Cars Must Go!

Over 300 Bank Reprocessed vehicles for sale to the public!

All Must Go!

Now, when you look at that, do you get the feeling the bank has repossessed cars from some unfortunate people who failed to make their payments and sold them on to the garage for profit and now the garage is off loading them at hugely discounted prices?

Well, look again and you may notice that it doesn’t say “repossessed;” it says reprocessed! I asked the owner what that meant, and he had no answer. Especially since the cars in question (only about 150) had all been on the forecourt for months. Also, what and who is the “bankruptcy” what’s that all about?

The owner, in an effort to defend himself, informed me that the ad was perfectly legal, to which of course I (quite emphatically) let him know that it wasn’t.

Let’s continue to restore the integrity in our profession by ensuring truth in advertising, honesty in selling and let’s finally put the BS to R.I.P!

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

0800 849 6732

The Truth In Ad Sales

Hi there – something a little lighter for you…

This clip is funny!
The Truth In Ad Sales is a spoof set of ad sales, the buzz words and what staff are really thinking!

So you’ll want to watch this ASAP to make sure you get an ROI, OK? – You’ll see what I mean when you watch it!

Is this like your office?

If I had a pound for everytime I’ve seen this kind of thing…

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

0800 849 6732

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