Let's face it: The sales profession doesn't exactly have a stellar reputation. The industry of selling is fraught with people who will say or do anything to close a deal (and companies who condone such behavior). Unfortunately, you too may be guilty of some bad sales habits — habits that could be affecting your reputation.

Here are seven bad sales habits you need to kick:

  1. Pitching too soon. The vast majority of salespeople pitch their products or services too soon. As a result, they end up pitching the wrong solutions or failing to effectively position their solutions because they haven't taken the time to determine whether or not prospects actually have need of them.
  2. Opening your pitch by talking about your company. I'm flabbergasted by the number of salespeople who still believe this is the best way to open a presentation. They use up valuable time talking about their companies and their achievements, when they could be focusing on what is important to their prospects: the solutions to their problems.
  3. Failing to listen. Too many salespeople don't listen to their clients or prospects. As a result, they fail to address the key issues their prospects have stated are important to them. This is a very common mistake in the business world. One of the easiest ways to connect with decision-makers is to carefully listen to what they have to say.
  4. Not understanding key business issues. In today's highly competitive business world, salespeople are expected to have a strong grasp of the issues affecting their prospects' businesses or industries. Bringing new insights to the table can help you win trust and stand out from your competition.
  5. Not asking enough high-value questions. It still amazes me how many salespeople think that telling is selling. Your prospect or client should be doing most of the talking during a sales conversation. The key is to ask high-value, thought-provoking questions to get your prospect thinking.
  6. Delivering a generic presentation. The objective of a sales presentation is to demonstrate why your prospect should buy your product, service, solution or offering. Unfortunately, very few salespeople craft presentations tailored to their individual prospects. Instead, they use the same slides, information and approaches regardless if the prospects' specific needs.
  7. Failing to follow through. A prospect asks for a particular piece of information, but the salesperson does not deliver it, so the prospect has to call and ask again. This causes warning signals to sound in the prospect's mind. After all, if the salesperson is this slow to respond beforethe sale is made (the "courting" stage), how long will it take to respond after?

Selling is an honorable profession, one that gets a bad rap thanks to a few dishonorable salespeople. Show your prospects you're one of the good ones by avoiding these bad sales habits.

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