12 Common Mistakes Salespeople Make

In My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle sang, “Words, Words, Words— I’m so sick of words.”   The reality is that our words are important, even crucial, to our effectiveness as communicators in every line of work.

Common Mistakes Salespeople Make

I’m delighted to host this  guest post by Patricia Fripp, Executive Speech Coach, Keynote Speaker , Sales Trainer and President of FrippVirtualTV .


Salespeople put themselves and their companies on the line with every word. Here are the 12 most common mistakes that I see—and how to avoid them:

1. Unclear thinking. Want clarity? Imagine that a busy executive says, “You have ten minutes to tell me about your company. In one sentence, how should I describe your benefits when I talk to my managers tomorrow?”

2. No clear structure. Make it easy for your prospect to follow what you are saying. What key “Points of Wisdom” do you want the prospect to remember? How will you illustrate each point?

3. Talking too much. The key to connecting with a client is conversation and asking questions; the quality of client information received depends on the quality of the questions—and listening to the answers!

4. No memorable stories. Vivid, relevant stories help prospects “make the movie” in their minds by using memorable characters (i.e., satisfied clients), exciting situations, intriguing dialogue, suspense, and humor.

5. No emotional connection. Build an emotional connection by using the word “you” frequently and answering the unspoken question, “What’s in this for me?”

6. Wrong level of abstraction. Get on the same wavelength with your prospects, whether broad generalities (C-level), how you can work together (middle managers), or data, facts, and figures (IT).

7. No pauses. Changes of pace, pauses, and full rests allow listeners to think about important points you’ve just made.

8. Hmm…ah…err… Self-explanatory. Practice in front of your sales manager or colleagues, video or audio record yourself, and note any digressions.

9. Weak opening. Engage your audience with a powerful, relevant opening that includes them. For example, “You have an awesome responsibility,” or “Congratulations on your company’s recent success.” Then focus on their needs: increasing sales, reducing errors, cutting overhead, expanding their market, increasing their digital footprint, or perfecting their sales presentations. Whatever your product can help your prospect do.

10. Weak closing. To close, pick the one sentence you absolutely want embedded in their minds—even if you don’t get the sale.

11. Lack of specificity. Specificity builds your credibility and helps position you above your competition. What is the number one crime against your credibility? It’s a single, suddenly-popular buzzword that makes me feel like fingernails screeching on a blackboard every time I hear it. It’s “stuff.” It means debris, and your products are not.

12. Misusing technology. Charles H. Green, co-author of The Trusted Advisor, tells about four advertising agencies bidding on a large account. The last team walked in and said, “We’re ready to do exactly what the other three competing agencies have done. We can give you the ‘Dance of a Thousand PowerPoint Slides,’ but you have a choice. You can pretend you already hired us, and for the next two hours we can start brainstorming on your account. If you hire us, you’ve received two free hours of consultation; and if you don’t, you’ve still had two hours free.” They won the account by intimating they could use the latest technology but displaying the presentation skills that they didn’t need it.

Remember, you— the presenter— are much more important than even the best audio visual aid!

For more information about Patricia Fripp’s speaking, sales training, coaching and FrippVirtual, visit


About Susan RoAne

Susan RoAne leads a double life as a sought-after professional keynote speaker and a bestselling author. Known as The Mingling Maven®, she gives diverse audiences the required tools, techniques and strategies they need to connect and communicate in today’s global business world. The San Francisco Chronicle says she has a “dynamite sense of humor.” To hire Susan to speak for your company, association or college, 1.415.461.3915