3 Common Sales Beginner Mistakes – And How to Fix Them

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New to selling and not getting the results you want? Or are you trying to sell – but it feels like riding a horse backwards with a tin bucket on your head? In other words, awkward and damn uncomfortable?

Maybe you’re not a “salesperson” per se, but your job requires you do just that – say you’ve started a company as a technical founder, but you still need to sell the idea of what you do – to potential partners, investors, and talent to help you grow your baby*.

Or maybe you are asked to sell ideas internally to others on your team, or across departments in order to get an initiative to happen at your firm.

You never signed up to be a salesperson. And frankly, you’re not feeling too fired up about it right now.

We’re not all born with sales skills. Some of us get by on intuition. But for others of us, we are forced to be salespeople without a great basis as to how to do it. Should I sell like the salespeople I’ve encountered in my own work? What if I didn’t like their style? What about salespeople in pop culture? We often have a negative perception of salespeople and selling in general. It feels foreign and awkward.

And when it’s not comfortable, it’s hard to be confident.

One thing that breeds comfort is practice. Another is success.

If you’re a beginner salesperson, or have never had training in sales, you may be short-circuiting* your success without even realizing it.

Sometimes the things that cause us to fail are doing those things that we most quickly identify with salespeople – being aggressive, pushing the features and benefits of our product—hard,

They may even be things that seem to make some sort of logical sense. But in reality, are actually hurting you.

Three Common Sales Errors – And The FIX For Each

So here are three quite common sales mistakes you might be making. At NorthStar Consulting* we see these all the time with salespeople we coach. The good news is they’re all fixable. Also good news – we explain how below.

1. Selling too early in the process

We all know the situation. We pick up the phone call from that unknown number…and we’re immediately hearing about a great deal which is going to be perfect for us and comes with this and this and this and this great thing….

Selling on first contact is a mistake. This is what cheesy salespeople on late-night TV do.

The purpose of any cold contact should be one thing – to set up a separate time and space for a sales meeting to take place.

We in effect need to get permission from the other party, before we go into any sort of sales-oriented topics.

The FIX: If you’re selling too early, you may be spamming*. What we want to do is construct an effective first outreach contact – whether that is by email, call, or in-person contact.

We need to orient our approach to setting up that meeting – and that means respecting the other party by not hitting them with salesy stuff right off the bat. This turns people off and makes them put up their defenses/guard immediately.

Our approach needs to be short, to the point, and built to create enough trust and stimulate enough interest – with just the right amount of information and social proof – so that the other person agrees to an easy 20-minute meeting with us. That’s when we get into the sales*.

2. Promoting features rather than value

You know you have a cool product or a great service. And you just know it could solve a lot of the other guy’s problems. If they only knew about all the cool things it can do, they’d see it too, right?

This is a common trap.

We need to think in terms of what problems or pains our product solves. Or about what aspirations it can help the other person reach (we call this the princess…) 

Some people think that if they simply burn through all the neat features their product has, the other person will have no choice but to see how cool it is and agree. And hand over the credit card.

You may absolutely love your product (and if you’re the one who created it, you probably should). But you need to think in terms of the value it brings to the other side, before going through all the technical aspects and cool effects/features*.

The FIX: Leave the features and technical stuff for later in the process – step 3 (Demo, aka Solution Presentation).

You can mention what your product or service does in general terms early…but the features should be considered the proof that what you have can do what you promised it could in the sales meeting (Step 2) part of your sales framework. Don’t lean on the features alone to sell – figure out the pain or problem first—and then show how the features help relieve it.

3. Not building an effective Buying Atmosphere

Not sure what we mean by Buying Atmosphere, you say? Well this is easy, it’s all about putting on the right tunes, pouring out a few drinks, maybe lighting a candle or two…wait no, that’s actually a different sort of buying atmosphere.

What we mean here is simple: The Buying Atmosphere is simply the feeling the other person has that it’s okay to say NO to you.

We all love to buy things that we want, need, or that we feel will improve our work or personal lives.

But we HATE the feeling that we were “sold” – in other words pushed to buy something.

Creating an authentic Buying Atmosphere is key to building this feeling –and letting your prospect feel in control of the decision.

The FIX: The good news here is that the Buying Atmosphere—the words we say—are simple. The tougher part is that you have to be authentic – to feel and mean it.

We simply say something like “I’ll go ahead and show you what we do. If it sounds good to you, great – we can talk about ways we might work together. But if not, that’s okay too. Whatever you feel is fine with me.”

The key is that these have to be authentic words. Read more here on how to have a great Buying Atmosphere—and when you should build and emphasize it.

Mistakes are Normal/Natural*

Any of the above sound familiar? If so, no worries. Most salespeople aren’t born – they are made. Or rather, they make themselves – by learning the right skills and developing the right habits.

If you find you have to sell, and not feeling great about it – we can help you get better. We work with people from all backgrounds and cultures. And becoming good at sales is possible – no matter your personality “type”. Believe us, we’ve seen it.

Want to know more? Let’s set up a 15-minute Skype chat. Don’t worry, we don’t bite. And if you like our ideas, that’s great – but if not, that’s okay too 😉

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