16 Bad Sales Habits

Marshall Goldsmith, Don Brown and Bill Hawkins in What Got You Here Won’t Get You There in Sales!: How Successful Salespeople Take It to the Next Level, (McGraw-Hill, 2011), identify 16 bad sales habits that severely damage a customer’s sales experience. Eliminating even one or two can profoundly improve your sales and influencing abilities.

  1. Failure to be present: repeated and annoying displays of behavior that indicate we’d rather be somewhere else, “some when” else or with someone else
  2. Vocal filler: the overuse of unnecessary and meaningless verbal qualifiers
  3. Selling past the close: the irresistible urge to verbalize and execute every possible step in the sales process
  4. Selective hearing: the absence of listening in the presence of a customer
  5. Contact without purpose: repeated, deliberate communication for no valid business reason (other than wanting to sell something)
  6. Curb qualifying: the tendency to judge a prospect’s means and motive superficially, from a distance
  7. Using tension as a tool: also known as “sale ends Saturday”
  8. One-upping: the constant need to top your conversational partner in an effort to show the world just how smart you are
  9. Over familiarity: the use of inappropriately intimate gestures
  10. Withholding passion and energy: the tendency to forget that people make decisions on the basis of emotion and later justify them with logic
  11. Explaining failure: behaving under the erroneous belief that simply assigning blame, fault or guilt is enough to satisfy the customer
  12. Never having to say you’re sorry: an inability to apologize or accept responsibility for personal or organizational errors/injuries
  13. Throwing others under the bus: sacrificing a colleague — often anonymous, often vulnerable and usually innocent — to cover up a functional failure
  14. Propagandizing: overreliance on organizational rhetoric and themes
  15. Wasting energy: taking part in organizational blame-storming and pity parties
  16. Obsessing over the numbers: achieving revenue, profit or productivity targets at the expense of metrics of a higher calling

By now, after reading this list, you may recognize a few of your own bad habits yourself. Whether you’re in sales or not, anyone can easily get trapped by these common communications mistakes.

Here’s a way to avoid them. Review the list and pick three that you’re prone to commit. Work on observing yourself in conversations and try to become more aware of when you fall into one of these traps. Then concentrate on avoiding it next time. Sometimes simply becoming aware of them helps you find better ways of communicating effectively.

What else can you do about these 16 bad sales habits? That’s for my next post. Tune in. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. What’s your most common communication habits? Do you recognize any of these traps?

(Photo by Ambro: Freedigitalphotos.net)

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