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7 overlooked sales mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Kyle Parrish

VP of Sales at Mixmax

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Table of contents

When a sales rep wins, they assume it’s due to their expertise, persuasiveness, and high-level performance. Fair enough. Everyone knows they’re busy trying to meet quota.

But what happens when a sale is lost? It’s easy to blame a million different things—from marketing to the customer to the price. But how many of these sales reps know one way or the other? Or even the sales leaders, for that matter?

It’s vital to take a step back and analyze what, in fact, lost (or won) the deal in the first place. Discovering such actionable insights will help not just the rep but the entire team learn how to more successfully and efficiently pull prospects through the pipeline.

While that may be easier said than done, we have a place to start. Here are seven of the biggest sales mistakes reps make that may deter, stall, and even lose deals in the middle of a sales cycle.

1. Counting on the demo to seal the deal for you

You’re allowed to think your product is great—and it very well might be—but your prospect isn’t dazzled by features and features alone, especially if they’re already suffering from a sales pitch hangover.

A big mistake right out of the gate would be to treat the demo as a one-size-fits-all solution; hoping the demo seals the deal for you.

Doing a proper discovery call and asking open-ended questions (more on this in #3) to learn about your prospect's specific pains and interests is key. After that, you’ll want to present a tailored demo focusing on the features that solve their problems and help them achieve their goals.

A related mistake to avoid is making it difficult for your prospect to join your demo. With Dialpad, your prospects don’t need to download anything. Just a click of a link and they can join your demo directly from their browser, on their phone or computer. If you’re on the phone with prospects, you can use Dialpad to send them an SMS with a link to see a screen share of your demo.

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Salespeople who successfully move past a demo stage have generated a business case that clearly conveys value and helps clients overcome obstacles, putting the focus back where it should be: the customer.

2. Not setting a plan with steps all the way to closure

From qualifying the first lead to the next meeting down the buyer’s journey, you need to strike while the iron’s hot. Responsiveness is a critical part of sales engagement, but that’s often easier said than done.

Having robust processes and sequences in place to follow up with your prospect is key to making that happen.

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How to use Mixmax to follow up with a sequence directly from your Gmail with your unresponsive prospects after a demo call

Timing your follow-ups, for one thing, will help you stay top of mind and while setting a notification on your calendar is a start, it’s still guesswork. Using a tool like Mixmax, you can get notified right when your prospect has opened your email a certain number of times so you can follow up at the most opportune moment, practically guaranteed.

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Easy rule setup in Mixmax to get notified in Slack when key stakeholders interact with your email

You can also set rules to get notified when key stakeholders have seen your sales enablement assets, ensuring a lead never gets cold.

3. Not understanding the customer's buying process

Buyers follow a buying process, so your team should follow the process, too, feeding them the right information at the right time. According to CSO Insights, sales teams that align their internal sales processes to the customer’s journey saw win rates 17.9% higher than the average!

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The result of dynamically aligning sales process to customer’s path by Miller Heiman Group

However, Forbes recently argued that sometimes there is no coherent journey for the customer, partly due to the fact that large purchases aren’t made frequently enough to warrant a defined process.

If your prospect doesn't have a defined process, a mistake would be not proposing one based on your selling process. Ask open-ended questions to get to know your prospect’s needs, challenges, and pain points and create a sales strategy accordingly. To begin, ask sales engagement questions such as “What are some of the frustrations you’re currently experiencing?” or “Who else, if anyone, is involved in the final decision?”

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Examples of closed-ended vs open-ended questions

Knowing how prospects make decisions, where they get their information, and what objections they raise allows you to configure a customer-centric approach and guide buyers through the funnel. In addition, it'll tell you the motivation for why they are speaking to you now and who is involved in the decision-making process (see point #7).

4. Not having the next meeting scheduled before the meeting ends

This is one of the simplest yet most important points: Sales is all about momentum. Securing the next step before that sales call ends ensures you’re not playing phone tag with your prospect for the follow-up. This, in turn, means there is less distance between meetings, meaning there is a shorter sales cycle. What’s not to love about that?

In this case, the best sales technique is getting prospects to commit and say yes to the question: “Can we schedule the next step?” Not only will asking this question help you gauge their level of interest, but it’ll also leave you better prepared for the meeting to come.

If you’ve ended the meeting and forgot to cement that next step, never fear. Sharing your availability directly in your email with Mixmax helps you control when the next meeting takes place and allows your prospect to choose a meeting time with a simple click—without ever leaving their inbox.

Sharing sales call availability in email

Sharing your availability in-email with only selected time slots using Mixmax

Reducing friction and tedious back-and-forth is the key to momentum.

5. Not managing legal and procurement requirements

Did you think the process ends when the customer gives that coveted verbal “yes?” Think again! Great salespeople begin the contract review and negotiation process parallel to the sales process, rather than something that comes afterward.

According to a 2020 report, these are the top 10 most negotiated terms:

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The top 10 most negotiated terms in 2020 by World Commerce & Contracting

“The best contractual processes are those which have been mapped, discussed and simplified beforehand," writes the team at Simple Legal.

"Unfortunately, this happens relatively rarely, which is a real shame as the more legwork done by sales and legal prior to the contract negotiation stage the quicker and smoother it will go – by a wide margin.” Tackling this sooner with a more efficient process can keep the balance between legal and sales and for the bottom line.

6. Not creating enough champions and coaches to give you information

We all need some help closing the deal sometimes, and having someone on the inside can be a gigantic advantage. In comes a champion, or coach: someone at the company who loves your new product and wants to help you sell it to their team.

Whether it’s at a small business or enterprise, a champion is essentially someone who doesn't have the official authority or decision-making power but is willing to give you helpful information. Champions can divulge the decision-making process (see point #3), provide internal metrics to build a better business case (see point #1), and keep the competition at bay.

Yeah, it’s a big deal. But getting that kind of info is always easier to do on a phone call, rather than an email. That’s where Dialpad comes in handy.

Dialpad helps ensure that your sales reps have everything they need for their calls. For example, when a prospect says “pricing”, Dialpad’s built-in artificial intelligence can train your reps on how to address those types of questions. You also get a post-call transcript, which makes it easy to quickly find information on things like common sales objections or identify calls with negative sentiment.

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Real time transcription for sales calls with Dialpad

Also, it works on all your favorite devices. We’re talking smartphones, laptops, tablets—everything. And, thanks to the Mixmax integration with Dialpad, your reps can make a call directly from their Gmail.

7. Not understanding the decision-making team

Did you know the average number of customer stakeholders involved in a B2B purchasing decision is 6.8? Even if you successfully built an army of champions that can hold the fort, deals close when everyone involved feels connected to your product or service and believes in its value. Get a solid idea of each stakeholder you’ve interacted with and sell your solution to each, giving you a strong tie to the entire decision-making chain.

Yes, it can be time-consuming, not to mention repetitive. Between trying to send the perfect, personalized email to every decision-maker on your list, as well as keeping your CRM data hygiene up-to-date and customer base straight, it can seem like this step will create additional work! That’s where a sales engagement platform like Mixmax comes in.

Mixmax is the leading sales engagement platform made for revenue teams using Gmail and Salesforce. By automating repetitive tasks and organizing their daily workflows, Mixmax increases reps' productivity and empowers them with the tools they need to do what they do best: sell.

Mixmax's rules engine

How to eliminate data entry with the simple, but robust Rules engine built into Mixmax

Don’t rely on your sales skills exclusively

It can be tempting to keep doing what you’re doing, especially if you’re winning deals. But high-performing sales professionals are constantly reflecting on their performance—blunders and all—to refine their processes, iteration by iteration.

Mixmax email reporting dashboard

Mixmax reporting dashboard lets you answer any questions you have about your team's communications with customers and prospects

Your sales excellence can definitely help you close, but don’t rely on that exclusively. Compare yourself with these common sales mistakes above and don’t skimp on looking at the data to see how you can tweak your process to better support the customer. This type of overarching sales management can pay dividends.

Win more deals with Dialpad + Mixmax

Use Dialpad and Mixmax together to automate sales tasks and better engage with prospects—on the phone and over email. Book a product tour to learn more!