7 Common Sales and Marketing Mistakes You Can Avoid

MISTAKE #1. The belief that the “right information” will make a difference.

Not having the right information is rarely the biggest obstacle to improving sales results. Telling people the right things to do rarely gets results. Insights from selling masters are available easily and cheaply in books and tapes. We have all attended presentations full of great ideas. Yet in spite of soaking in all this great information. . all too little seems to change.

New ideas are not going to help the people who are only using half of what they already know and only doing half of what they know they should be doing. Most people already have the knowledge and ability to increase sales results. What they don’t have is the knowledge about how to put it all together and make it happen.

MISTAKE #2. Preparation is not the same as action.

If five people are on a cliff and three decide to jump, how many are left? Answer? Five. Why? Because deciding to jump and actually jumping are two different things! So it is with sales training. You can be determined to increase sales, or improve margins, or both. You can acknowledge that improving your sales results will mean altering work habits, organization methods, and your sales process.

You can also enthusiastically announce to the world your determination to increase results. But actually changing is quite another story. It’s like paying for your gym membership every month yet not going. You feel better as you convince yourself that you have taken a meaningful step toward fitness. Reality is that all you have done is waste resources while months pass by.

MISTAKE #3. Seeking a large solution, rather than a series of consistently larger successes.

The more ambitious the training goal, the longer it takes before you can start to implement anything. There is just too much to absorb. As time dribbles on priorities change, people come and go, and the competitive marketplace further evolves. These factors make your training less relevant.

MISTAKE #4. Not having good communication between the sales consultant and the organization.

If there is not effective communication between trainer and corporation, the odds are that the information will be too complex or too far outside an organization’s comfort zone to expect people to implement anything of substance. Worthwhile training is a collaborative effort. There is always more than one way to achieve a desired result. There should be serious discussion of the pro’s and con’s of all options.

MISTAKE #5. Wanting results superior to others, but doing that which is common and generally accepted.

Hello! If 85% or more of large sales training programs are considered failures 12 months after delivery (and most managers would be hard pressed to cite an example of a sales training program that was wildly successful). . . Why be so willing to do again that which has not proven effective?

Mistake #6. Defining success as the delivery of information, rather than as a measurable sales result.

Obtaining the right information and answers is not success. Success can only be obtained after initiating change that contributes to reaching a predetermined worthwhile sales goal. Quality information and answers can only support that change process. It is not success in it’s own right.

MISTAKE #7. Being too quick to accept a sales consultant’s pre-packaged solution.

You may have a sales problem and a sales consultant may have a solution. But, when the applause dies down, how likely is it that the program will contribute to initiating change and increasing sales productivity? Before the program is delivered there has to be frank and honest discussion about: sales goals, when results can reasonably be expected, time and resources available, and the organizations willingness to implement and support changes in strategy and work habits.


Brilliant ideas about what ought to be done come easily compared to the actual ability to make needed changes happen. Let’s state the obvious. If you need to improve sales results, it’s not going to happen if you do essentially what you always have done before. If you or your organization is unable (or unwilling) to do or support the types of change recommended by a training program. . . Why bother at all? Find this out before you invest a lot of time and money.

Have a discussion with the sales consultant about how much expected recommendations and suggestions vary from your current practices. If the reality is that they will take too much time, cost too much money or just plain will not be accepted / adopted by the sales force. . . don’t do it!

Are you just “too busy” to focus on worthwhile strategic thinking? Do you tend to make impulsive decisions about new strategies just to “see what happens?” Are you always disappointed about results (have unrealistic expectations)? Do you too easily excuse those who continue with work habits that fall short of goals? Well, if too many of these things apply to you and you don’t alter those behaviors, no sales training program in the world will help you.

Best Wishes Improving Sales Productivity,
Scott Channell
Copyright 2003-2012 Scott Channell