Sales People Are Getting It All Wrong


In this article, psychologist (and former leading sales person) Dan Sainsbury looks at the common errors many sales people make and how to remedy them.

Sales as an activity can be truly exhausting. Consistently trying to cajole and persuade people to say Yes to buying from you can be a highly dispiriting role. Endless sales calls, same pitch day in day out. Well, even a broken clock is right twice a day, right?
Being sold TO (or should that be *at*) is equally exhausting, having some shiny-suited individual blast away in your ear is not a pleasant way to spend your time.
And this is because sales people have it completely wrong. They need to COMPLETELY invert the way they do everything. Yep, again, it is the counter-intuitive ways that are the most powerful.
These are the 5 most common mistakes that I see in sales people and how to rectify them. Ie. do the complete opposite!

1. They make it about themselves.

They make it about how much money they need that month. Or about how good they sound, or whether they remember their pitch, or how good they look, or remembering to mention all the key features of the product. All about them, them, them, them. Stop it.
So, what is the complete opposite?
Make it completely about the person you are speaking to.
What are some of the best ways to do that?
Research pre-call: Who are you speaking to? What are their likely challenges and desires? Have they or their company been in the news recently (a quick search on Google news will show you)? What market forces are likely affecting them and in what way? Has their share price recently gone up? Who are their competitors?
And importantly, do you know something that they don’t about the market (eg from your own company’s research) that could give them great value and insight?
This is about making it a peer-to-peer exchange not annoying vendor to lauded buyer.
Then on the call / meeting your opener can soften them and make them feel good:
“Hi John, I’ve just been reading about the work you did with …. Etc”
For everyone loves to talk about themselves right?
You can then ask about their biggest challenges and desires. Ask them about them.
So, rule number one is to suppress the urge to blurt all over them about yourself and make it completely about THEM.

2. Forget your product completely.

Another urge sales people have is to want to pitch about their product. Huge yawn. The person you are speaking to is not interested(unless he has specific questions about spec).
Your pitch simply in most circumstances will not light him up as he is focussed on HIS world.
Come into his world first by understanding his greatest challenges and greatest desires and THEN you can see whether your product can help with that.
He will be a willing user and advocate of it if it can solve his most pressing problems.

3. Don’t make it about money but an agreed projected ROI.

If people are not bought into your product, even £1 feels expensive, right?
So at some point you need to find out the perceived value of your product in the prospect’s eyes.
You do that by asking an immaculate question.
“Once you’ve implemented this (product) which solves the problem of X, what is the perfect outcome?
And what is that outcome in monetary terms?
So if you’re saying it will likely be a £100k saving (or extra revenue generated) if the product is only £10k that is a good ROI, correct?”
You may also want to find out or establish WHEN they are likely to generate that £ by so you can impress on them the speed with which they can generate the ROI. Again you do that through discussion, nothing is presupposed.

4. Come away from your pitch and rest in the power of great questions.

There is a great inherent power in asking the right questions, acting like golden keys that unlock vision and decision-making in your prospect’s mind.
We’ve already used some questions here that will open up your prospect for he/she to see the immense value of working with you.
Questions such as
“What are your greatest challenges when it comes to ..?”
“What are your biggest desires in your role?”.
What other questions would be useful to ask in your quest to working with the prospect?
Questions have a huge power in and of themselves to turn a conversation from dry, banal and futile to a big partnership in the making.

5. Stop trying to close the deal and instead ask them how they buy.

Again use the power of asking the right question.
Once they have told you what they believe the likely ROI is, you can ask them how they buy.
Such a simple and effective question.
Likely, there are a few stakeholders in the decision so what are the best ways for them all to say Yes? You can ask the prospect that too.


In conclusion, forget your sales patter, unless you are of course red-hot and in the zone. Forget your How are you today’s? And remember to be a human. For this ultimately is an interaction between two humans.
Dan Sainsbury is one of UK’s leading sales psychologist whose clients enjoy using new techniques to help them open and close business quicker and more easily. New clients see a 3-fold increase in new business generation through a mixture of advanced psychology techniques and mindset optimisation. To speak with Dan to see how he can work with you please call 077239 25056 or email