Top 10 sales bad habits (and how to break them)

April 24, 2015

By Kevin Cundiff

Anyone who’s ever tried to give up chocolate or put in more time at the gym knows that bad habits are easy to form but hard to break. And in the monkey-see-monkey-do world of retail sales, one person’s bad habit could spread to the entire team; bad habits equal lower sales and declining revenue.

Have you identified the Tp 10 worst retail sales habits? No? That’s fine, because we did for you. Here they are, along with a few ideas on how to stop them.

#10 – Low self-confidence

Problem:
Good salespeople are confident, and confidence is contagious. If a salesperson isn’t confident in his product or in the act of selling, consumers won’t be confident about a purchase.

Solution:
Knowledge is power. Know your products and the confidence of both you and your customers will grow (and so will your sales). Practice roleplaying to rehearse pitches and overcome objections, and it will translate into success.

#9 – Leading with price

Problem:
Once price is established, it has to be overcome with value. This can often be difficult because customers may have already been turned off by the cost.

Solution:
Always lead with value. Using knowledge of your customer’s specific needs, build a mountain of benefits that will easily tower over the cost you present later.

#8 – Failing to close

Problem:
Sales reps who present the value of a product without a closing statement result in an awkward silence. The natural reaction is to fill the silence with a data dump, a communication breakdown that can kill a sale.

Solution:
At the end of the benefit presentation, employing soft closing statements such as ‘How does that sound?’ or ‘We will set that up for you today as well, sound good?’ can take the customer to the finish line. You’ll either receive a ‘yes’ from your prospect, a clarifying question you can answer to close the sale, or an objection you can overcome. Avoid the awkward silence and guide the customer to the close.

#7 – Failing to connect

Problem:
When sales representatives don’t learn anything about their customers, it’s very difficult to inform them of how products and services can truly enhance their lives.

Solution:
Take time to learn about customer needs, and link those needs to the right product or service solution. There’s no need for a "hard close"  if a customer trusts you. Connect and they will take your recommendations.

#6 – Too much terminology

Problem:
Slinging around fancy-schmancy adjectives about your products doesn’t necessarily help you sell more. While certain terminology may be well known internally, it is likely foreign to the customer.

Solution:
Know your audience. Talk about products using vocabulary the customer is accustomed to. However, you should still be sure to use the correct legal or compliance language laid out for you.

#5 – Believing you’re short on time; and
#4 – Believing the store is too busy

Problem:
These two habits go hand in hand. Look, we’re all busy. Still, you have a job to do. Take a breath and proceed.

Solution:
Always provide customers with the best experience possible. This includes making them aware of any potential products and services that could benefit them (No. 10) and treating them like they’re the only person in the store (No. 7).

#3 – Overwhelming customers with everything at once

Problem:
Sometimes knowing the product isn’t the issue, but learning how and when to use it is. Just because a sales rep knows everything doesn’t mean the customer needs to hear it.

Solution:
If a connection with the customer has been made, deciding what information to share, and when, becomes easy. Demonstrate that you’ve listened by presenting only what will resonate with the customer, instead of hurling value props until one sticks.

#2 – Clerking

Problem:
There’s a difference between clerking and selling. Clerking is simply exchanging money and asking if they’d "like fries with that."  Don’t be a clerk or a cashier, be a salesperson.

Solution:
Sell! Sell! Sell! Don’t let the customer steer the conversation. Establish a sales process that builds value before you get to the register. Doing this will help you become a bona fide salesperson who can improve your customers’ lives.

#1 – Not selling to everyone

Problem:
Why, why, why would every customer not be offered products or services? Who knows? But it happens. (Insert excuse here.)

Solution:
No more excuses. No more making decisions for the customer.  Present to everyone. Remember, you lose 100 percent of the sales you don’t offer.

Kevin Cundiff is the vice president of warranty retail for Foretgra.
Photo courtesy of Flickr


Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Service, Department Stores, Employee Training, Psychology


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