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10 Common Mistakes Made by Outside Sales Agents


Rod Heasley outlines the 10 mistakes most commonly made by agents,
and effective remedies to correct them.

Read the Article Originally Featured on Agent Entrepeneur By: Rod Heasley

Before you can start selling more products & programs than you are selling right now, you have to change some of the mechanics that you are doing right now.

To know what areas of the selling process that you need to change, you need to make the most difficult evaluation and that is to evaluate yourself- and do it honestly!

Thought for the Day…

“You will only perform as well as the example you set for yourself”
Set your priorities daily … and live by them!

In my field agent training classes I like to refer to self-evaluation and how you can spot areas of weakness that need your immediate attention. The answers to all of your self-evaluating questions should be a simple “Yes” or “No,” there are no middle of the road answers when evaluating.


If the answer to the question about whether agents sell more products after their first initial visit to the client is “Yes,” then instead of making excuses for your current results, shouldn’t you be figuring out a way to develop more be-back visits and presentation opportunities?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to be smart or cute. But when someone calls something to our attention that falls into the category of good old-fashioned (sales) common sense, it seems that we should make excuses about the way that we have always done it, or better yet, the way it was taught to us. Just pay some attention to the results of your personal self-evaluation and every time you make an excuse you are closing your mind to new thoughts and that can cost you hundreds of dollars every day.

Please keep in mind that human nature is to reject any kind of change coming. We have all been doing some things so long that we’re confused and not sure about what and how to change it. We have all forgotten that “CHANGE,” (now let’s say “tweaking”) is how we got to where we are today.

All that I ask is that you listen to everything you hear objectively so that you can weigh the facts and make an intelligent decision. Since we are all in this “sales” game together, I believe that keeping an open mind is critical to your future success as an outside sales rep in the field.

Let me ask you this …

“Are you selling your products and programs in the same manner and procedure that you did last year?” If you are, then you are losing ground. Can you afford to lose one sale to your competition?

Let’s take a closer look at some specific examples and see where you fall in this self- evaluation process by answering the questions honestly!

Mistake # 1- Do you take each customer seriously?

Do you call on any perspective client that is not really in need of your programs, services and expertise? Do you pre-qualify potential clients? Do you list the same old entry (excuses) on your daily report expressing the status of your visit? Are these just descriptions and terms that you use to describe the potential clients that you let slip through your fingers? Please understand that every potential customer that you talk to today, in person or on the phone, at a business social gathering or connected to on social web sites is a potential client of yours. With this mind set you will begin to sell more products and programs.

Mistake # 2- Do you qualify customers properly?

Qualify = Investigate professionally & ask the proper questions to determine needs.

If you are not finding out your customers wants and needs before you make your presentation and you are closing 8 to 12 deals a month now, I am telling you that you’re losing that same number in extra sales a month!

The only way that you can find out customers wants and needs is to ask the right questions. I am not sure what is worse; not qualifying your customers at all, or only qualifying them on price alone? Since your presentation should be based on their needs, if you are not qualifying on the above-mentioned category that means you are missing more sales that you’re making.

Mistake #3- Do you conduct normal conversation or interrogation tactics?

Establish some common ground with the customer, relax the customer, and try to establish trust and confidence. The key to your entire sales approach should be that every customer gets the “red carpet treatment.” Let me ask you this, how much tip did you leave the last waitress that was rude to you and did not ask you for your wants and needs? Remember, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. The first five minutes should be spent in making the customer your friend, instead of rushing right in to your sales presentation

Mistake # 4-  Do you always ask for the order?

It really seems too simple, does it not? Make sure that you at least attempt to close everyone that you present to.

Now, do you have any questions?

I know you will say to me, “Why should I bother and try to close these people that have already told me they aren’t buying today? This is just a waste of my valuable time.” Well as soon as you learn not to cross hair (pre-qualify with no facts) a customer (deciding whether you have a live one or not) and instead ask everyone for the sale during your best presentation, you will soon realize that even some people who say they aren’t buying … will buy on the spot.

Mistake # 5Who controls the selling situation?

Who is the pro here with regards to the selling situation? Do you listen to the conversation that is taking place during the presentation process and ask yourself, “Who is controlling this situation?” Is it the salesperson or the customer? Getting the client involved in the presentation by control is the key to a successful close. Remember, soft commands can help you maintain control.

Mistake #6Staying average

The average outside field sales rep usually presents to 3 to 4 customers a day, and does not follow up religiously, does not prospect in off time, does not attend more than 6 hours of sales training a year, closes about 6-8 clients a month, and blames all sales results and income results on something or somebody else.

Remember if you are still closing the same number of clients a month this year that you sold last year…you’ve quit growing. You’ve averaged out and you’re standing still with no forward momentum.

Caution: Standing still is the first step to heading backwards.

Mistake #7Do you truly understand “Sales”?

“Selling is the lowest paying easy work … and the highest paid hard work that I know” – Author Unknown

Every sales “job” has its limits. That is why it is so great to be in an actual profession and not just a job. In a truly professional sales job, all the limits have been removed and there is no limit to what you can earn or the levels of success that you can reach.

Make a decision- Decide if you want your territory sales at the bottom, in the middle, or on top of your company. Real success is only up to one person- (surprise) … That’s you!

Mistake #8- Do you plan and schedule your day, week, month, & year?

Work on your sales objectives daily- Break down your monthly sales objective according to the number of selling days in the month.

Keep a personal planner (App or program) – Using this type of tool effectively can be your most effective organizational tool. (It will actually become your boss.)

Schedule cushion times during the day– Take a walk around the building, have a bag lunch at the park, relax on lunch time and enjoy your surroundings, etc. Make it an hour or so of your time to recharge.

Focus on high priority sales objectives– Certain goals and objectives have to have a higher priority than others, these ones should get the larger percentage of your workday. Select goals and objectives that inspire you and put your goals in writing, and then picture your feelings when you achieve the end results. Look at daily and routine assignments with eagerness, to make it a more professional working atmosphere.

Set priorities on your ‘to-do’ list for the day and keep a running master list of to do items- Adding and changing priorities daily.


Mistake # 9Do you motivate yourself and others daily?

Discover who or what really motivates you. You should want to do what you have to do daily, with positive energy, enthusiasm and a contagious attitude. Give yourself and others around you plenty of positive reinforcement by being a mentor to mold themselves after.

Make prospective clients you meet feel like the most important people in the world, because they are!

Mistake #10Have you embraced proper follow up techniques?

Most follow up systems require the salesperson to follow up owners periodically for no apparent or logical reasons. When the salesperson follows up buyers in a haphazard way, they eventually contact a buyer who is sore about a problem, or possibly feels as though they received discourteous treatment from someone within your company. At this point the salesperson gets “chewed out” for something that he had no control over. When this happens a couple of times, the salesperson usually no longer wants to conduct customer follow-ups.

Secondly, most salespeople fail to realize that one of the great secrets of outside sales success lies in a salespersons ability to continue to do the same good things, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

Remember: Successful salespeople are the ones who are continuously persistent, and to some this is extremely difficult and boring. Real losers in our industry are the ones who continually jump from one project, company, or sales process to another. In reality, they get bored doing what it really takes to become successful in the field.

Every field rep should develop and work with a program that is designed to retain at least 90% of his/her clients. In my opinion, there is only one way. You must become involved with the buyers personally as well as emotionally. Or in other words- KNOW WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR CUSTOMERS.

In Conclusion:

If you are really interested in dominating your market, or if you are just interested in increasing your current sales and commissions, Take this self-evaluation today! Tomorrow may be too late!