The art of selling is an intricate process, a bit like a tightrope walker maintaining his balance so that he makes it to the end of the wire without falling. One false step and you are going to lose the sale.

As a salesperson you need to maintain the right balance throughout your sales process – i.e. be friendly and informative, yet not too pushy or aggressive. You also need to understand the psychology of the buyer to help close a sale. Most of all, you need to avoid making any of the 7 biggest mistakes made by sales people.

Here’s a list of these crucial sales mistakes, and how to avoid them.

Mistake No. 1: Focusing on the Product, Rather Than the Customer

Are you more concerned with sharing the latest buzz about your product than on finding out what your customer really wants?

If you are, take a step back and try listening to your customer first.

The customer comes first when making a sale. Ask questions, listen carefully to the answers and you will find out what your customer wants. Once you know what your customer wants and needs, you will be well on your way to making sales by explaining how your product meets those needs.

Robertson in his popular book “Stop, Ask & Listen” summed it up nicely with his wise words of advice:

“Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Remember WII-FM – What’s In It For Me?”

Mistake No. 2: Making a Bad Impression By Not Being Prepared

Preparation is the key to making lots of sales.  First impressions count and these impressions are formed in the customers’ minds within the first few seconds of meeting you.

Dress to look the part and use appropriate language when speaking to your customer. Be positive, friendly and confident in your demeanor and conversation. Avoid being pushy or too full of yourself.

At the minimum, prepare a conversation starter you can use to break the ice upon first greeting your prospect.

Be thoroughly familiar with your company’s product literature and its business values and ethos.

Mistake No. 3: Not Doing Your Homework to Land a Big Fish

In addition to being knowledgeable about your company and its product offerings, it is also important to get to know your client.

If you are hoping to land a big fish, then spend the time to research your client  (e.g. read their annual reports, media press releases, and latest company reports) to obtain a better understanding about their business and its requirements.

If you’ve done your homework, you will be in a better position to recommend a solution tailored to suit your client’s circumstances.

Mistake No. 4: Not Collecting Critical Leads

Nothing is sweeter to the ears than a cash register ringing up a sale.

Making a sale after your first contact with a customer is a fantastic result. But what happens if your prospect isn’t ready to buy straight away?

Not taking the time to collect the contact details of your prospect is a lost opportunity for making future sales. Your prospect may not be ready to buy today, but that doesn’t mean they won’t buy later. But if you don’t have their contact details, they are not likely to be buying from you!

Mistake No. 5: Lack of Repeat Exposures

Collecting your customers’ details is only the start of the sales process – now you have to start building a relationship with your prospects.

It may take three or four contacts with your prospective customer before you land a sale.

Mediums such as email marketing are an efficient and cost effective way to keep in touch with your customers, along with traditional methods such as direct mail outs.

The greater the number of positive contacts made with your prospects, the greater your chances of making that next sale.

Mistake No. 6: Consistency is the Key to Selling the Perfect Customer Experience

In the well known business book “The E-Myth Revisited”, Michael Gerber tells the story of visits to his local hairdresser and the inconsistency of the customer experience.

On his first appointment he received one of the best haircuts he had ever had – a hair cut with scissors, a hair wash and extras such as a top up of fresh coffee. On his second visit the barber used a combination of scissors and shears, and served a single cup of coffee. The third visit was different again, with the hair wash done after the cut with no coffee served.

As Gerber summed up:

“There was absolutely no consistency to the experience.” [My barber] was in control of my experience, not I. It didn’t matter what I wanted.”

If your customer’s experience falls short of their expectations about your product or service, future sales may be jeopardized.

Be consistent in the delivery of your product,  starting with the sales pitch about what your product has to offer. Make sure the sales pitch matches the reality.

Mistake No. 7: You Forget to Build a Relationship

The lifeblood of a successful business is repeat sales. To get repeat sales, a salesperson must work at building a strong relationship with his customer.

Making the first sale is only the start of the relationship. The next challenge is to entice your customer further down the sales funnel, so that they will buy more products and services from you in the future.

Do whatever it takes to build a strong relationship with your customer. Work on maximizing the lifetime value of your customer, rather than just making one off sales.

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing had this to say about the sales funnel:

“Generate leads on a broad scale and then “funnel” them toward becoming a client with increased contact and content.”

“The greatest opportunity for real growth in most businesses comes from selling your existing clients more products and more expensive services.”

Becoming an expert salesperson takes knowledge and experience acquired over time. Learn from and avoid these 7 biggest sales mistakes and you will sky rocket your career in sales.