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Why Salespeople Don’t Make More Sales

Published Thursday Mar 5, 2020

Author John Graham

Why Salespeople Don’t Make More Sales

Things don’t go well for some salespeople. Simply put, they say they want to sell, but their numbers tell a different story.

What’s missing? What needs to change?

The answer may rest in how they view their job. Call it “task tunnel vision.” It’s especially common among sales people.
When a salesperson says about a task,  “That’s not what I’m hired to do. I want to sell. Just leave me alone and let someone else do all that other stuff,” they have task tunnel vision.

Unfortunately, when salespeople erect an impenetrable mental wall that stops them from venturing outside their self-imposed prison, they are preventing themselves from selling more.

The way to break free from task tunnel vision is to focus on what customers look for in a salesperson.

Be An Advocate
Even though the promise of the internet is that consumers will be better informed consumers, it doesn’t bear out. Given the plethora of today’s products and services, customers need someone to explain how things work, how one product or service is different from another and to even explain why what the customer is buying costs what it does.

When a sales person has in-depth information about how their entire company works, they are better able to serve as a consultant to prospects and to turn those prospects into clients.

This isn’t to suggest that salespeople pretend they’re consultants. They’re not. But a well-rounded sales person who connects with different departments can be a consultant of sorts for their own employer.

While some may think the role of customer advocate is asking too much of salespeople, it isn’t. In fact, it will build trust in the salesperson as they are perceived as an expert and shorten the length of the sale as the salesperson won’t need to get someone else to answer the prospect’s questions.

Answer Customer Questions
One thing the internet has done is made people more inquisitive. As one marketing director says, “People are always searching for answers and whoever provides the best answers to the most questions at the end of the day will be the winner.”

So the last thing salespeople should do is rush into a sales spiel.

Forget the sales presentation and use the time with a prospect as a customer-focused FAQ session. It might start this way: “Here are some questions customers ask, along with my answers.” When salespeople let customers know they are open to questions, it becomes easier for customers to shift into asking their own.

Offer Choices
Then there’s the paradox of choice or when given too many options, people are more likely to buy nothing. Anyone who has shopped in a paint store understands “choice paralysis.”

However, too few options makes people feel like they need more value before making a purchase.

They may even feel like they are being forced into doing something they may come to regret.

Yet, this is what happens when salespeople skew presentations so they lead straight to one conclusion. When this happens, customers don’t buy, they rebel.

So, when a customer offers an objection. Don’t necessarily jump in with a prepared response to the objection.

Rather salespeople should listen and ask more questions that allow the prospect to feel heard. Then the salesperson might come back with several potential solutions to assuage the customer’s reservations.  

Make sure that as you propose different ideas, that you also check in as to how the client feels about each option. If a check in elicits a response like “That wouldn’t work,” quickly move on. That way you reduce options as the discussion progresses.

Finally, it’s a salesperson’s job to help the customer make an appropriate decision.  While making a sale is key, getting there is the most important part of the journey.

John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategy consultant and business writer. He is the creator of “Magnet Marketing.” Contact him at or

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