There are a few star performers in sales. The other 99% fall on a continuumfrom very good to poor. While this isn't news to anyone, the commonapproach is to hold up the 1% as models for everyone else. “Striveto be a star,” they're told. While that may motivate a few, itdoesn't help the vast majority of salespeople who want to sell morebut don't know how to go beyond where they are.

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Related: 5 tips to increase sales among newproducers

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This picture isn't complicated. For the most part, salespeoplecan do things that bother customers so they lose salesunnecessarily. Here are a number of them.

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1. Trying too hard. A salesperson can beso focused on making the sale that customers feel pushed to make adecision. Even though they may want to say yes, they say no insteadas a way to escape.

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2. Inadequate preparation. Using “canned”or rote presentations that are so general they're meaningless andemphasize the product or service without reference or relevance tothe customer.

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3. Ignoring the customer. Customers try tofigure out whether or not a salesperson is genuinely interested inthem, and the answer determines the outcome of the sale. Any answerother than “yes” means a lost sale.

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4. Talking too much. When salespeopledon't know what to say next, they cover it up with more talk.Instead of using such moments to ask questions, they try to get ontrack with more talk, but it's too late, the sale is dead.

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5. Laying on the jargon. Somesalespeople think it makes them seem more confident and competentif they use a “secret language” — jargon — to make themselves soundlike experts, when it only makes customers feel uncomfortable.

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6. Poor follow through. By placing the toppriority on closing sales, little effort often goes into preparingthe way to get there, including a failure to answer emails, makingmistakes, not returning calls, forgetting to send requestedinformation, and not meeting agreed upon deadlines.

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7. Writing off prospects. How many timeshas a prospect become a customer long after the salesperson hasdropped them? There's no telling how many more sales a salespersoncan make just by staying closer in touch with prospects.

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8. Lack of enthusiasm. Whether it's aclerk at a dry cleaner store, a server at a restaurant, a loanofficer at a bank, or any other salesperson, it takes energy andenthusiasm to engage customers.

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d9. Not painting verbalpictures. Too many salespeople try to impresscustomers with “war stories,” and present “facts” when the customerwants to know how their purchase will change or improve their life,help them feel better about themselves, and fulfill a dream.

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10. Playing a role. It's never deliberate,but it happens. A salesperson's words, manner, and attitude cancause customers to react negatively. Instead of acting normally,they come across as if they're playing a part or following ascript.

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11. Failing to involve customers. It's notonly inexperienced salespeople who are guilty oftalking to customers,not with them. It's as if they are determined tograb the reins and keep control at all cost; akin to winning thebattle but losing the war.

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12. Too focused on what they want tosell. It's one thing to be enthusiastic about yourproduct or service, but it's something else to make customers feelwhat you're selling is all you care about.

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13. Stopped learning. They're frozen intime, most likely at when they first went into sales. Customersview them as “dated” and out-of-touch, unable to help anyone meetcurrent challenges and opportunities, and it gets worse with eachpassing year.

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14. Believe they can sell anything. Notonly do they believe it, they see it as a badge of honor and a signof superiority. They brag about it freely in a self-serving attemptto put a shine on a faltering sales career.

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15. Impervious to criticism. They guardtheir self-image at all cost, requiring endless praise for theirsales prowess, while striking out at the slightest sign ofcriticism. They not only deny the accusation, but they also labelthem unfair and wrong, nothing more than signs of jealousy.

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16. Not feelingvalued. Everyone deserves a pat on the back, butsalespeople, unlike others in a company, can quantify theirperformance; they know how they're doing. Being disturbed by a lackof appreciation only distracts a salesperson from getting the jobdone.

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17. Overestimating their competence. It'scommon for most people to avoid bragging by underestimating theircapabilities and failing to give themselves the credit theydeserve. With salespeople, it's just the opposite. They are proneto exaggerate their competence, their ability to workcollaboratively with customers and to close sales.

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18. Getting pumped up. No salesperson canbecome successful merely by listening to motivational messages,attending seminars, or buying the latest sales guru's book. Successtakes focus and hard work.

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19. Talking down to customers. Somesalespeople intimidate customers so they can better seize andmaintain control. Some customers acquiesce, not feeling up tochallenging the salesperson, while others bail out and goelsewhere. Even those who concede harbor resentment.

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20. Putting the brakes on. After asalesperson has been in the business for a while, even some years,they start to put their foot on the brake. Seemingly, they decideto only go so far, letting it be known what they will and won't do.They want to decide which prospects they'll work on, and the levelof service they'll offer customers. It's a great way to put thebrakes on their sales.

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21. Distancing themselves from thecompany. This is subtle, but customers pick up whensalespeople drop hints that that they would do somethingdifferently if they were in charge. It's an effort to earn pointsby showing they're on the customer's side. It almost alwaysbackfires; customers don't want to do business with renegades.

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22. Confusing talk with action. Becausesalespeople tend to be verbal, they think that when they saysomething, they're doing it. They readily agree to get a proposaldone, make a delivery, assist with a project, or make apresentation. When the due date comes around, they're absent. Andso are their sales.

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Selling is hard enough without being weighed down by attitudesand behaviors that make it tougher — and sometimes impossible — tomake more sales.

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Related: Better selling: 10 tips, from prospecting toclosing

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