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The 32 Worst Things You Can Do in Sales:

4. Not Listening to Customers

By Steven J. Schmidt (2/16/09)

If you listen carefully to a potential customer, they will almost tell you how to make the sale. A lot of salespeople are not successful because they do not listen to what the customer is saying.

That is like going to a restaurant and telling a waitress that you want Filet mignon. However, imagine if the waitress didn't listen and brought you Chicken Marsala. You would be pretty unhappy, right? Take that same scenario to making a sale out in the field. As long as you get the Filet mignon, you will be happy.

Not listening to a customer can cause confusion. Say you're working business-to-business selling Internet service. Now, suppose the customer asks, "Since the phone line and the Internet line come from the same modem, will my Internet work if my phone line goes out?" Imagine if you reply, "Well, the speed of the Internet is much faster than other competitors and you can check your voice mail from work for your phone."

That is a great piece of information that you delivered to the customer, but has absolutely nothing to do with what the customer asked. If a customer does not get their question answered, then you are fulfilling a need that they want.

Avoiding a question can only really leave the assumption that you do not know the answer or you cannot fulfill the service the customer wants. If you do not know the answer, you are better off saying that you don't rather than making something up or switching the topic. You will not look great that you do have the knowledge base for the question the customer asked - this aspect is also on this Worst Things in Sales List - but at least you are being honest with the customer. You may not also get the sale, but at least your reputation isn't ruined because you're making up answers.

You have to realize that time is very precious when trying to do business with a customer. You have to stay on topic and answer the question that the customers asks to the best of your ability. Once you deviate from that and start talking about a different topic, that will be the beginning of the end of that sale!

More from The 32 Worst Things You Can Do in Sales

  1. Walking Away - 2/16/09
  2. Not Looking Customers in the Eye - 2/16/09
  3. Talking Too Much - 2/16/09
  4. Not Listening to Customers - 2/16/09
  5. Not Knowing Your Product - 2/16/09
  6. Not Being Organized - 2/16/09
  7. Getting Distracted - 2/16/09
  8. Selling Price Alone - 2/16/09
  9. Not Getting Proper Rest - 2/17/09
  10. Getting Flustered (Lack of Production) - 2/19/09
  11. Leaving Territory Too Quickly - 2/20/09
  12. Being Rude to Customers - 2/23/09
  13. Being Too Content - 2/24/09
  14. Maintaining Poor Hygiene - 2/26/09
  15. Pressuring Customers - 2/28/09
  16. Not Having Fun - 3/2/09
  17. Not Closing - 3/3/09
  18. Lacking a Powerful Introduction - 3/4/09
  19. Not Following Up With Customers - 3/6/09
  20. Not Having a Strong Mentality - 3/8/09
  21. Lacking Discipline - 3/10/09
  22. Not Handling Objections - 3/12/09
  23. Sounding Desperate - 3/14/09
  24. Having Poor Customer Service - 3/17/09
  25. Not Taking a Vacation - 3/21/09
  26. Misreading Customers - 3/27/09
  27. Lacking a Unique Sales Identity - 3/31/09
  28. Not Letting Yourself Be Known - 4/6/09
  29. Not Having Patience - 4/9/09
  30. Not Holding Yourself Accountable - 4/11/09
  31. Hitting on a Customer's Wife - 4/13/09
  32. Acting Like a Salesperson - 4/23/09
  33. Overview - 5/23/09

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