We all know this feeling. Here are 5 common sales mistakes and how to avoid them.

We all know this feeling. Here are five common sales mistakes and how to avoid them.

Great leads are not easy to come by, so we get pretty bummed out when we see salespeople fumble them. Here are some of the most common mistakes we see, along with pointers on a better way.

1. Checking your email first thing.

This is a tell-tale sign of a salesperson with a “reactive” schedule—rather than one that’s built around the best times to connect with targets. First thing in the morning, when most people are just getting to work and checking their email is usually a great time for you to be making calls. Same goes for lunch-time, when many of your targets may be eating lunch at their desks, and after 5 p.m., when many senior people are still working and more likely to answer their own phones.

2. Failing to connect with the C-Suite up front.

Enormous amounts of time get wasted and many deals are lost because salespeople fail to loop in the CEO or other high-level executive until late in the sales process when the deal gets passed up the food chain for a final decision. The fact is that most companies don’t communicate well internally. If you get a lead from middle management or below, it pays to reach out to the C-Suite before you even connect with that lead. Then keep leaving messages or sending emails at key stages throughout the sales process to stay on the executive’s radar.

3. Treating an executive’s admin like a receptionist.

If you connect to an executive admin, don’t just leave a message! At most companies, the CEO’s admin is a wealth of information and pretty powerful in their own right. If you get a chance to ask them questions, grab that opportunity with both hands. Ask them: who’s the right person for me to talk to? How does the buying process work in your company?

4. Not using data to optimize calling and emailing strategies.

Make sure you have data to support your call and email strategies.

Make sure you have data to support your call and email strategies.

Without data, you can’t identify patterns. If you don’t know exactly what you did, you can’t know how to do it better. Setting up clear processes, tracking your activities, and analyzing your results is the only way to improve. For example, what days of week and times of day do the most people open on your emails or answer your calls? What subtle differences in your email subject lines or calls-to-action dramatically improve your click rates?

5. Promoting your product instead of your value.

When it comes to generating leads by building your personal network, your primary goal is to build trust and authority in your area of expertise. When you participate in LinkedIn groups, blog, tweet, and so on, you want to be seen as a resource and a thought leader. If you mention your product at all, it should be secondary to offering helpful information, perspective, or advice on the broader topic at hand.

Bonus tip!

The idea of promoting your value instead of your product has broad ramifications. It’s very easy throughout the sales process to fall into the trap of selling features, rather than benefits. Be sure to keep your focus on how the specific person or company you’re selling to can benefit from what you offer—rather than the bells and whistles of the product/service itself. That means listening more, talking less, and knowing your audience as well as possible.

Get more advice on Looping in the C-Suite, Building Your Day Around Your Customers, and much more in the first book of the Pipeline Way series: Building a Lead Machine.