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The 7 Bad Habits That Make Salespeople Look Really Unprofessional

Forster Perelsztejn author on Overloop the sales engagement, cold email, and LinkedIn automation software blog
Forster Perelsztejn Sep 21, 201710 min read

A few days ago I sat down with our sales guy here at Overloop.

We talked about how some of our customers didn't manage to close more sales despite our efforts in helping them run more successful email campaigns.

What was holding them back?

To address this question, we ran a little experiment. Iulian (our sales guy, remember?) set up a call with 20 of these unsuccessful salespeople and actually asked them to sell him their product.

Yes, like a role play.

Here's what he found out!

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1. They don't know their product

On the 10 customers that Iulian talked with, he managed to catch 40% of them off guard, on their own product. Not that they didn't know it, but they didn't know it to the smallest detail. Which is a problem when you're trying to solve a prospect's specific issue.

You need to know your product from inside and out, down to every last feature.

We know it can be tough in the SaaS industry so you need to regularly review your own knowledge base if you have one to make sure you didn't miss out on something.

2. They talk more than they listen

This is one of the most fatal and critical mistakes you can commit. And 50% of our guinea pigs did it.

As Daniel Disney likes to mention it: you have two ears and one mouth because you're supposed to listen twice as much as you speak.

Okay, not exactly, but Saleshacker found out that the talk/listen ratio amongst the most successful salespeople is 43/57.

So, yeah it's important to give potential customers a tour of your product and show off its merits, but not listening to your prospects is the biggest of turnoffs.

3. They fail to turn product features into benefits

Sales 101. Features - Advantages - Benefits

Feature: Your car has an automatic driving feature.

Advantage: I don't have to pay attention to the road.

Benefit: I can eat breakfast and read my newspaper on my way to work which allows me to sleep longer in the morning.

The benefit always depends on the person; not everyone necessarily needs the extra sleep; maybe they like to admire the scenery, which is another benefit of having a self-driving car. You never know. Which is why you need to listen to your prospect to understand what matters to them (see point 2).

As Russel McGuire puts it:

Instead of you pitching how great your product is, why don't you ask the right questions, so your prospect tells you the value of solving their problem?

Luckily, only 10% of our participants were found guilty of this.

4. They divulge the price too early

Sales are about value: price should be formality. 20% of the sales reps we talked to didn't fully grasp that.

Your prospect should ideally want the product so much that price doesn't matter. Of course, this is hard to achieve and depends on the need.

In any case, coming up with a price offer early on makes you appear pushy. Keep the price to yourself until you really have a good understanding of your prospect's situation and of the outcome of them buying and using your product.

The point here is you need to show empathy and work towards a solution to their problem. You announce a price when everything else has been taken care of. There's no point of even discussing it if there's something they're not at ease with.

What if THEY ask for it? Even if they're the ones asking, if you announce a price before making sure your product is perfect for them, they might be turned off. Do the Grant Cardone technique: tell them that you won't discuss money until you've found the perfect solution for them.

5. They didn't customize the presentation

Oh my god, 45% of our panel of customers started off by some standardized presentation before asking any specific and personal questions.

That is a big mistake. Why? Because you're showing me features I might not even need, which might:

  1. Bore me
  2. Make me feel like you don't really care who you're talking to
  3. Scare me off on the value/price ratio since I'd be paying for stuff I don't need

Guys, customize every presentation and every tour of your product!

6. They lacked of eloquence or articulation

You don't need to talk like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs to sell me something.

However, if you don't speak in an enthusiastic or at least confident manner, I'm going to be turned off. Like, instantly. If you don't believe in your product, why should anyone else?

Also, if your grammar sucks, I'll infer that your boss made a terrible mistake hiring you. And if they don't care enough to hire someone with proper grammar, how can I trust them with taking care of my business pain points?

Thankfully, none of our customers were concerned by this, but it happened to us when we were looking for a customer success solution a few weeks ago. Thought it had to be mentioned.

7. They lead the interaction with their product instead of their customer

I know, this ties to several points that have been developed before but this will never be said enough.

There's a reason why the first point of our culture deck is "customers first". You may be the beating heart of your business, but customers are its life and blood. This is why you should make the interaction about them, the priority is finding a solution to their problem. Your product only enters the stage as a solution to that problem.

More than that, as sales expert Steve Hall puts it:

Your prospects aren’t thinking about you at all! For all they care, you may as well not exist. They’re far too busy thinking about themselves.

They have their own problems, their own customers, their own issues, their own suppliers, their superiors, subordinates, colleagues, products and services. When they aren't thinking about them, they have their friends, family, hobbies, sports, books and movies to think about.

Why should they care about you?

The truth is, your business only exists as a solution to their problem.

If you try to push a product that doesn't fit, you will being branded as a pushy a**hole. On the other hand, if you're honest enough with your prospect to recognize that your product may not be a good fit for their needs, they will remember it when someday they finally need your solution. Or when someone they know might need it.

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Sales heaven

There are, to us, the top 7 sales deadly sins. Stay clear of them and things might work out for you!

Thanks again to the customers who agreed to take part in this.

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