Do and don’ts in sales?

Sales is a challenging yet rewarding field that requires certain skills and tactics to be successful. Knowing the right approaches can set you apart from the competition, while the wrong moves could sabotage your efforts. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the essential do’s and don’ts that every salesperson needs to know. From lead generation to closing deals, we will cover the best practices to boost your sales performance. Whether you are just starting out in sales or are a seasoned pro looking to take your game to the next level, this article will provide invaluable tips and advice. So let’s dive in and learn the key principles for sales success.

Do’s in Sales

Focus on Solving Problems

Customers don’t want to be “sold” anything. What they care about is having their problems solved. Make it your goal to truly understand your prospect’s challenges and pains so you can determine how your product or service can help. Ask thoughtful questions, listen intently to their responses, and identify where your solution fits into addressing their needs. If you can demonstrate how your offering will make their life easier, you will be seen as a trusted advisor rather than a pushy salesperson.

Establish Rapport and Trust

People buy from those they know, like and trust. Relationship building is crucial in sales, so focus on establishing genuine rapport with prospects. Take time to get to know them as individuals, not just as customers. Show interest in their business, challenges, and goals. Be friendly, sincere and helpful without any agenda. Trust is hard to gain but easy to lose, so make sure all your interactions are thoughtful, honest and reliable. When prospects see you as someone who cares, you’re far more likely to earn their business.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Asking open-ended questions shows customers that you are interested in understanding them better while closed-ended questions can come across as impatient or pushy. Get the conversation flowing with questions starting with who, what, where, when, why and how. These prompts will reveal more insights into the prospect’s needs and encourage thoughtful dialogue. Save closed-ended questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no for later in the sales process when you need to confirm specific details.

Listen More Than You Speak

Some salespeople are so busy pitching that they don’t take time to truly listen. Fight this urge. Let the prospect do the majority of the talking while you focus on active listening. Pay close attention, ask follow up questions, acknowledge their points and don’t interrupt. Listening builds trust and shows the customer you are invested in understanding their perspective. Taking a consultative approach demonstrates that your priority is helping them solve a problem, not making a quick sale.

Leverage Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Peer recommendations and customer stories are powerful tools to build credibility and close more sales. Collect compelling reviews and testimonials that speak to your product or service’s value. Then weave these into conversations with prospects to alleviate concerns and reinforce your capabilities. Verbatim quotes and specific examples of how you helped other customers in similar situations are highly persuasive. Just be sure you have permission to use their names and feedback. Social proof goes a long way in nudging prospects off the fence.

Make Your Pitch Relevant

A common sales mistake is launching into a generic pitch before assessing what matters most to that particular prospect. This one-size-fits-all approach is less compelling. Instead, tailor your messaging to be relevant to each customer’s unique situation. Listen first to understand their pain points, challenges and goals. Then you can emphasize how your solution addresses their specific needs and tie benefits back to what they care about most. This relevant, customized approach resonates so much more than blanket statements.

Follow Up Promptly and Consistently

In sales, the fortune is in the follow up. Set reminders to follow up with prospects consistently across every stage. Whether it’s sending requested information, connecting them to a satisfied customer, or simply saying you are thinking of them, regular communication is key. Immediately following up on inquiries also conveys responsiveness. Set expectations upfront on your follow up process so prospects know what to expect. A robust follow up strategy shows commitment and builds trust with customers over time.

Ask for Referrals

Referrals are one of the most effective ways to generate new sales leads. If you’ve done a good job nurturing the customer relationship, don’t be shy about asking for referrals at the close of a sale. Say something like “I appreciate you choosing us for this project. Who else do you know that could benefit from our services?” People are usually happy to share your name if you’ve delivered value. Referred leads convert at a much higher rate since they already know and trust you before you connect.

Don’ts in Sales

Don’t Be Pushy

Nothing turns customers off more than aggressive sales tactics. Avoid high-pressure pitches, overpromising, and insisting the prospect make an immediate purchase. This pushy approach raises defenses and damages trust. Instead, aim to be consultative. Provide helpful information, be patient answering questions, and let the customer set the timeline. Making the process low-pressure means they will keep their guard down and be more receptive.

Don’t Talk Too Much

Many salespeople are so nervous that they end up dominating the conversation. This prevents you from uncovering the prospect’s true needs. Avoid long-winded presentations about yourself or lengthy product pitches. Keep it brief then ask strategic questions to learn more about their situation. Your prospect’s responses provide clues on how to tailor your solution. The more they talk, the better you can position your value.

Don’t Overcomplicate Things

Resist the urge to bombard prospects with complicated features and technical jargon. Not only is this overwhelming, but it can confuse and distract from the true value you provide. Keep your messaging simple and benefit-driven. Explain how your offering solves problems in a straightforward way. Use plain language, relatable examples and analogies. Complicated pitches come across as disingenuous sales tactics. Keep it concise, clear and relevant.

Don’t Be Desperate

Desperation is unattractive in sales, as in dating. Prospects can sense when you are overly eager for the business, and it undermines your credibility. Avoid compliments that seem like flattery, discounting too quickly, or taking disrespect. While you don’t want to be arrogant, conducting yourself in a confident, professional manner earns more respect. Be patiently persistent without conveying neediness. If a prospect seems disinterested after multiple touches, politely move on.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Every prospect is unique with different motivations and challenges. Avoid the mistake of lumping them into a one-size-fits-all bucket. What worked for one customer may be entirely irrelevant to another. Set aside any preconceived ideas and approach each sales conversation with an open, curious mind. Draw prospects out with lots of questions to understand their goals and pain points. Then tailor your pitch accordingly. Making assumptions closes the door on what could have been the perfect solution.

Don’t Overpromise

It’s tempting to overstate capabilities in hopes of making a sale. Exaggerated claims or unrealistic promises will always come back to haunt you. Be honest about what your product or service can and can’t do. If the customer has needs you can’t meet, own this and suggest an alternative provider. It’s better to lose a deal than set false expectations that lead to disappointment and damage your reputation. Manage customer expectations upfront to build trust for the long haul.

Don’t Neglect Follow Up

Inconsistent or nonexistent follow up frustrates customers and loses sales. Prospects want to feel valued, not ignored. Frequently following up conveys that you are reliable, engaged and truly want their business. Whether it’s sending useful content, addressing unanswered questions, or simply saying hello, out-of-sight cannot mean out-of-mind. Track all commitments and keep the conversation moving forward. Consistent nurturing secures sales that could have easily slipped away.

Don’t Forget to Ask for the Sale

Some salespeople avoid directly asking for the business, fearing it seems pushy. But most prospects won’t offer up a yes unless explicitly asked. Look for buying signals like budget approval, urgency to solve a problem or complimenting your solution. When the timing seems right, confidently ask for the sale. Provide options that advance the deal like a free trial or pilot project. You miss 100% of the sales you don’t explicitly ask for. Just be sure to do so in a consultative, helpful way.

Key Takeaways

Here are some key lessons on improving your sales approach:

  • Focus on understanding and solving problems vs. just pitching
  • Build rapport and trust by taking a genuine interest in prospects
  • Ask open-ended questions and actively listen to understand needs
  • Customize your pitch to be relevant to each prospect’s situation
  • Promptly and consistently follow up across the entire sales cycle
  • Leverage customer reviews, testimonials and referrals
  • Avoid being pushy, talkative, or overly complex
  • Don’t make assumptions, overpromise or neglect follow up
  • Politely ask for the sale once you see buying signals

Mastering these do’s and don’ts will make you a more effective, consultative salesperson while avoiding behaviors that turn prospects off. Focus on customer value, not sales quotas. Build trust and address needs with a tailor-made solution. If you provide an outstanding buying experience, revenue growth will naturally follow.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most important things to do in sales?

The most important sales best practices include: listening intently, understanding needs, building trustworthy relationships, adding value, communicating clearly, being dependable, following up consistently, solving problems creatively, knowing when to speak up or be quiet, personalizing pitches, asking for business at the right time, educating prospects, setting realistic expectations, and maintaining integrity.

What are some common sales mistakes to avoid?

Some key sales mistakes to avoid are: focusing on features rather than benefits, being dishonest or pushy, failing to listen, poorly qualifying leads, lacking follow-through, winging demos instead of customizing, not requesting referrals/testimonials, skipping post-sale nurturing, failing to share customer success stories, and neglecting to keep marketing materials updated.

How do you build trust with customers in sales?

To build trust, be transparent with prospects, acknowledge when you make mistakes, only make realistic commitments, follow through on your word, maintain confidentiality, stay true to your brand/values, have candid conversations, validate their concerns, provide proof your solution works, and recommend what is in their best interest even when it doesn’t immediately benefit you.

How can you stand out in a competitive sales environment?

Ways to distinguish yourself in a crowded marketplace include constantly improving your product knowledge, knowing the competitive landscape, asking thoughtful questions, listening fully to understand needs, approaching sales through the lens of solution-finding vs. hard selling, providing creative ideas customized to the prospect, adding unexpected value with each interaction, promptly responding, showing initiative to build the relationship, remembering small details about each prospect, and sending meaningful follow up.

What steps can improve a sales pitch?

Ways to enhance sales pitches include capturing attention immediately with a compelling hook relevant to that particular prospect’s situation. Focus on telling a story vs. stating statistics. Share specific examples and case studies. Have a conversational tone. Invite participation through open-ended questions. Create an emotional connection. Use visual aids sparingly. Make it a dialogue, not a one-sided presentation. Practice relentlessly and solicit feedback. Time it appropriately. Close with a specific call to action.


Mastering sales isn’t easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding. Following the do’s will distinguish you in the marketplace and the don’ts help you avoid common missteps. Focus on putting customer needs first, developing authentic relationships, and truly understanding how to bring value. If you can perfect both the soft skills of emotional intelligence and the hard skills of sales methodology, your career growth can skyrocket. Remember that customers want to feel understood and buy from those they know, like and trust. If you can communicate that you have their best interests in mind, the sales will come.

I hope this overview on sales best practices and pitfalls gives you a helpful framework as you analyze your own selling style. Use it as a guide focusing on the actions within your control. With the right approach and mindset, your sales abilities can always keep improving. The strategies here are applicable whether you are selling enterprise SaaS solutions or retail products. Master the craft of salesmanship and success is sure to follow. Just stay committed to priorities like service, ethics and adding value. The rest will fall into place.

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