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4 Mistakes Mediocre Salespeople Make That Cause Them to Lose the Sale

Sleazy salespeople.

I know – you probably just had an image pop into your mind, right? Something like…

Well, maybe not to that extent of Harry Wormwood from Matilda, but definitely not something positive…

It’s happened to ALL of us: at one point or another, we’ve had a bad experience with salespeople and that can sour our taste about them. (Even if we are in sales.)

Here’s the reality: these types of sleazy characters are far and few between. Do they exist? I’m sure they do but it’s a small percentage.

What there is a LARGE percentage of are MEDIOCRE salespeople. These aren’t bad people per se, it’s that they are making common mistakes that HURT them and cause them to lose the deal.

These mistakes also aren’t earth-shattering mistakes but little mistakes that hurt credibility and trust. With some easy tweaks, we can fix these mistakes and automatically gain trust and close faster too! Let’s check out these four mistakes:

1) Being Late – I get it; you’re human but when you are late to a sales call, that prospect is automatically making a note in their mind about it. This is 100% controllable to be on time and early! I know what you are thinking: “Marcus, sometimes traffic is a beast and there’s an accident so that can cause me to be late.” (Or insert some other common excuse.)

Yes, sometimes that can be the case but the question you must ask yourself is, “How often am I late?” If you are late consistently, this is simple problem to fix. If it’s a one-off because something happened on the freeway, then it’s not a big deal as I’ll teach you a simple trick below that will make you look AWESOME to your prospect.

So let’s say you are running late and your phone’s GPS says you will be 7 minutes late. The MEDIOCRE rep just shows up 7+ minutes late. The top performing rep AKA you, will call the prospect and tell them that you are “about 15 minutes behind.” Yes, I added a buffer here of 8 minutes intentionally because you will need it! Here’s how it works out:

  • 7 minute delayed drive time
  • 3ish minutes to get yourself gathered and out of your car to them

This will now make you 5 minutes AHEAD of the time you told them! Seems crazy but they will now be like, “WOW – you got here faster than I thought!” They are now IMPRESSED with you. I’ve done this for EVERY SINGLE TIME I’VE BEEN LATE (due to some uncontrollable situation or appointment running long) and 100% of the time they are impressed!

Also, sometimes something else weird happens and you need that extra buffer time – this gives you a few to get yourself mentally set for the appointment as no one feels on their game when rushed.

2) Lack of Preparation – Being prepared for a sales call takes ZERO skill. It takes simply WILL to prepare for the call. That can mean doing online research about the business, searching on social media, preparing any collateral, grabbing extra samples, customizing documents, templates, etc.

Imagine that you have Mary Poppins’ bag (totally dated myself with that reference) – whatever could potentially come up in a sales call, you are ready to go with that in your briefcase, bag, or purse! Your prospect will be incredibly impressed and you’ll feel a boost of confidence knowing you are well prepared! This will also shorten your sales cycle as well since it can reduce having to go back and prepare anything if you already have it ready to go.

This also applies to product knowledge, business knowledge, etc. The mediocre rep does not do any research and does not have any idea on what they should know. They are constantly saying, “Let me look into that” or worse,  they try to fake it by using buzzwords as an attempt to show credibility.

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3) Poor Active Listening Skills – Active listening is a superpower for building strong relationships and for sales. Both top and mediocre reps will have a list of questions to ask the prospect. However, after a mediocre rep asks a question, they are already FOCUSED on what question to ask next…OR they are chomping at the bit to start pitching! It becomes incredibly transactional and trust is not truly built.

Top reps listen carefully to what the prospect says and then have follow up questions to ensure they have a good understanding of it. Here are some key phrases you’ll hear a top rep ask while fact-finding:

  • “Can you tell me more about that?”
  • “Can you elaborate on that?”
  • “Can you help me understand ____?”
  • “If I understand you right,  _____, _____, and _____ are your current challenges, is that right?”

Note they are clarifying questions that seek to understand and are also open-ended questions. By showing empathy and truly seeking to understand, the trust is deepened between the top rep and the prospect.

4) They Focus on the Sale vs. The Solution – Those that have worked directly for me know that I am ALL about the one-call close. HOWEVER, ONLY when we’ve earned it. Mediocre reps are heavily focused on closing for the sake of closing. They pepper the prospect with all the features of the product/service in hopes they’ll close. Here’s the reality:


They care about a SOLUTION. They want their problem solved. If you have not DEMONSTRATED that in the sales call, then you have not earned the right to ask for the business. Top reps understand this and as a result are spending a lot of time actively listening to understand what the prospect needs and then aligning the SOLUTION to meet the needs. They are more concerned with the solution than the sale as they know the sale is a byproduct of providing the best solution!

So there you have it – 4 Mistakes that Mediocre Salespeople Make That Cause Them to Lose the Sale. What are your thoughts? Are you guilty of these mistakes? Make sure to comment, like, and share below with any friends to help them from making these mistakes!

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Marcus Chan, President / Founder of Venli Consulting Group, is an award-winning results and people-driven executive sales leader. Over the last decade, Marcus has been promoted 10X in 10 years and has been ranked in the top percentile of every company and every role he has been in.

He is passionate about helping others reach their maximum potential through high performance sales consulting and coaching. You can follow him on Instagram here for daily motivation! More information and a ton of cool resources are waiting for you here! 


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