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8 bad sales habits you need to quit

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After working with countless salespeople in the last 17-plus years, I have noticed that many of them have a number of bad habits they need to give up if they want to improve their results. Here are eight of them:

  1. Opening initial prospecting calls with “Hi, how are you?” This is a lame opening that does little to establish your credibility. It’s much more effective to immediately state the reason for your call than to waste time with this sort of opening.
  2. Using too many filler words. It surprises me how many filler words get used in a sales call or presentation. Words or phrases such as “you know,” “basically,” “OK,” “as I mentioned,” plus the inevitable non-word fillers such as “uh” and “um.” This type of communication detracts from your message and reduces your credibility.
  3. Spending too much time trying to establish rapport. Although it’s still important to develop rapport with prospects, your busy prospects have very little interest in spending five or 10 minutes of their valuable time engaging in small talk. It is better to focus on the reason for your call/meeting. This is often more effective in establishing rapport with a busy executive.
  4. Opening sales calls, demonstrations and presentations by talking about your company, clients, products, etc. Regardless of how important you think this is, your prospects don’t actually want to hear this type of information, at least not right away. What they really want to know is how you can help them solve a pressing business problem.
  5. Talking about aspects of your company that have little or no relevance to your prospect or customer. Many salespeople — and their managers — feel compelled to discuss details about their companies that simply bore their prospects. For example, you may be a global leader in a particular industry, but if a prospect is a small regional company, your global presence might have no relevance to them.
  6. Chasing a lead that has little possibility of turning into a sale. You only have a limited number of hours in a given day, week or month and spending them trying to close a deal when the other person lacks any buying interest or motivation is not the best use of your time.
  7. Shooting from the hip. Practicing your sales call, presentation or demonstration is not a glamorous activity. However, a few verbal rehearsals or run-throughs of an important presentation can mean the difference between “Let’s do it!” and “Thanks, we’ll think about it.”
  8. Relying on closing a “whale.” Every salesperson wants to land a whale, a big account that will ensure they meet their sales targets. While it’s a lofty target — and one that every salesperson should strive for — it’s a mistake to rely solely on closing that big deal, because it can lure you into a false sense of security. I have seen many big deals take a turn for the worse at the eleventh hour leaving a salesperson empty-handed at the end of the month or quarter.

Giving up these habits can be tough. After all, they’re habits, and habits develop gradually over time. They sneak up on you and take root almost without your noticing. However, if you want to achieve better results and increase your sales, you need to work steadily and diligently at giving up your bad habits.