The Top Ten Mistakes Salespeople Make & How to Avoid Them

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Todd Duncan's revolutionary approach to selling yourself as well as the product has become an inspiration for tens of thousands of salespeople around the world. In The Top Ten Mistakes Salespeople Make and How to Avoid Them, he focuses his expertise on the most common and destructive blunders salespeople make and how you can prevent them.

Based on thousands of interviews, years of research, and two decades of personal sales experience, this book is specifically designed to help ...

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The Top Ten Mistakes Salespeople Make and How to Avoid Them

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Todd Duncan's revolutionary approach to selling yourself as well as the product has become an inspiration for tens of thousands of salespeople around the world. In The Top Ten Mistakes Salespeople Make and How to Avoid Them, he focuses his expertise on the most common and destructive blunders salespeople make and how you can prevent them.

Based on thousands of interviews, years of research, and two decades of personal sales experience, this book is specifically designed to help you steer clear of the ten most fatal selling mistakes―like trying to sell before training to sell, making unplanned calls on unknown customers, and selling your product before knowing your customer.

Duncan also shows you how to build a life-based business instead of a business-based life, finding that delicate but essential balance between work and home.

Packed with Todd Duncan's sought-after sales wisdom and energy, this book will give you the tools to avoid the pitfalls, sharpen your sales skills, and become the best salesperson you can be.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780785287803
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/6/2007
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Todd Duncan, CEO and founder of The Duncan Group is one of America's leading experts in the areas of Sales and Life Mastery. His tapes, seminars, and books, including High Trust Selling andTime Trapshave helped millions worldwide tap into their potential.
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Read an Excerpt



Nelson Business

Copyright © 2007 Todd M. Duncan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7852-8780-3

Chapter One

Mistake #1: Hyping

Relying on "You can do it" propaganda to maintain your sales motivation

Take a look in the backseat of the average salesperson's car and you'll often find a bona fide smorgasbord of motivational merchandise. Books, tapes, videos, and pamphlets dedicated to the art and science of becoming more successful. Salespeople are known for building extensive libraries of pump-you-up products. And in the right context, there is certainly value in such merchandise. But the problem is that despite filling their heads with the time-tested wisdom of the sales sages and productivity gurus, many salespeople still find themselves in the middle of the pack, achieving only mediocre success. Maybe you've been there ...

After attending your fourth sales and success event and spending more than $2,000 on products over the course of two years, you've found yourself whirling in a wind of debt without much success to show for it. You thought you made the investments that were necessary to take your selling success to the top, but it's beginning to look as if your investments are turning sour-and as a result, so is your attitude about selling.

After reading another book or listening to a new cassette or attending another seminar, you feel on top of the world. You feel confident that you can become the best salesperson in your field. You're inspired to persevere when you read or hear phrases such as, "Success might be one call away!" So you keep trying-but things don't improve that much. You've tried to talk yourself into being a better salesperson. "I am a successful salesperson," you've reminded yourself. "Just keep plugging away. No pain, no gain," you've reassured yourself. You've remained optimistic: "People want to buy my product! I will make a sale today!" But that approach works only for a couple of weeks. And so here you are, reading about a problem that you share with many other salespeople. Highs, then lows. Mountaintops and deep valleys. And you're probably wondering how this book is going to be any different from all the others you've read. Well, it won't be any different ... until you understand the essence of one of the biggest mistakes salespeople make. That mistake is something I call "hyping."


Hyping, in the most basic terms, is relying solely on external stimuli-success books, cassettes, videos, seminars, and the like-to gain energy and maintain enthusiasm to sell. It's the equivalent of eating a Baby Ruth candy bar to sustain your energy for an entire week. It usually works in the short term, while the sugar is running through your veins, but it never lasts. Before long, you're back to where you started: tired, hungry, and in need of energy. And the same is true in the sales profession. The only difference in the world of sales is that the "Baby Ruths" are bound, audible, and often come with a name badge and a ticket.

Don't get me wrong here; success merchandise isn't the problem. The root of hyping lies in the false belief that any form of external stimulation can alone truly sustain your motivation to sell successfully. It simply can't and won't. Like sugar in your veins, it may give you a little pick-me-up for a short period of time, but before long you'll be left to fend for yourself.


Listen in on any criminal trial and you'll most likely hear one word repeated more than any other. In the widely publicized criminal trial of O. J. Simpson, this particular word was mentioned 226 times in the opening and closing arguments alone. "What's the word?" you ask. Motive.

"The defendant had a motive to commit the crime," argues the prosecution again and again. "The defendant did not have a motive to commit the crime," claims the defense over and over. And both the prosecution and the defense have good reason for their reiteration. Motive is ultimately the foundation of every criminal trial in America. The police detain a suspect on suspicion of motive. The state arraigns a suspect on probability of motive. And the court tries a defendant on legitimacy of motive. Why is all this talk about motive so significant? Because motive is at the heart of any action-good or bad. Because motive leads to action.

In the end, the fate of a defendant on trial usually lies in each lawyer's ability to prove or disprove that the individual's motives can be linked to a specific action. If the evidence shows that the individual's motives and the criminal act are an unlikely association, there is little ground to convict. In other words, actions without motives are very unlikely to occur. And the same is true of your actions as a salesperson.

Tapped Motives -> Sustained Action

In the sales profession, you can't ignore your core motive for selling, then rely solely on hype to sustain your enthusiasm to sell. When you do, your enthusiasm will simply be based on emotional highs and lows, on how you feel that day or in that particular moment. And that will make it very difficult to sustain momentum. Trying to sustain your selling energy without tapping into your core motive for selling is like trying to run a marathon on inspiration alone-without food or water. No matter how much adrenaline you have as the starting pistol sounds, when your body is depleted of nutrients, no amount of inspiration will give your muscles the energy they need to keep going. And eventually you'll collapse.

Untapped Motives -> Unsustainable Action, or Hyping

As a salesperson, your level of enthusiasm depends heavily on your core motives for selling. That's because motive truly gives birth to action. External stimulation (books, tapes, seminars, and so forth) is supposed to be a catalyst that taps into your existing motives for the purpose of initiating consistent, motive-centered action. But external stimulation alone is not the true mother of action. And as a result, it will never sustain your enthusiasm in the long term. Maybe you can relate.


The bottom line is that true, sustainable enthusiasm in sales begins when you understand your core motives for selling. Unfortunately that's where too many salespeople go wrong. Either they don't understand their core selling motives, or they mistake money and materialism for motives. And those mistakes lead to an emotional roller coaster of a career while they leave discerning customers with a bad taste in their mouths.

Have you ever thought about what might happen if your customers could hear everything you were thinking during a sales transaction? Would they still want to do business with you? Would they put their trust in you? Or would they walk away even sooner? If anything would reveal your current motives for selling (whether legitimate or not), letting your customers hear your thoughts surely would. For some salespeople, that would certainly be a good thing. It would show customers that their intentions are honest and mutually beneficial. But for many salespeople, revealing their thoughts would get ugly. It might sound something like this:

Salesperson: Can I help you with something?

Customer: No thanks. I'm just looking.

Salesperson: Well, just so you know, we have a big sale going on right now on several of our new models ... Not really, but I'm telling you that because I want you to think you're getting a better deal than you really are.

Customer: Okay. I'll keep that in mind.

Salesperson: Was there a particular car you were interested in? Preferably one of our most expensive models so that I can get a big commission.

Customer: Well, I'm thinking about buying my daughter an Altima for her high-school graduation gift. But I'm not sure yet.

Salesperson: Those are good cars. I used to own one myself before I traded it in for a Maxima ... The truth is that I've never owned either car, but I am telling you that so that I'll have more credibility with you when I talk you into spending your money.

Customer: I think a Maxima may be more than I want to spend right now.

Salesperson: Well, let me tell you that once I realized what I was missing, it was a no-brainer to spend a little more money to get the added safety and features that a Maxima offers. And ironically, now my daughter drives that car and loves it ... Actually I don't have a daughter, but telling you that helps me relate to you better and should help me talk you into buying the more expensive car, which means more money for me.

Customer: What do you drive now?

Salesperson: I was hoping you'd ask ... I just picked up one of our new 350Zs. Talk about a great car! And if I can, I'll try to talk you into buying that one because that's the biggest commission I can make. The truth is that I don't own that car either, but it will-I hope-make you think I'm more successful than I really am.

Customer: Those are great-looking cars. All right, I'm just gonna keep looking, and I'll let you know if I need anything.

Salesperson: No problem. Take your time. Why don't I go ahead and run some numbers on the Altima while you're looking? That way, if you find something you like, we're one step ahead of the game and you won't have to spend all day here. And while I'm at it, I'll run numbers for the Maxima and 350Z, too, so that I can try to convince you to buy one of them. In fact, I'll make it look like you can get a great deal on the more expensive cars so that the Altima doesn't look like your best option.

Customer: Okay.

Salesperson: Great. I'll be right back ... Get your checkbook ready.

Now, I know that's only a humorous example, but many customers would hear something similar if every salesperson's motives were audible. And that's sad. In fact, the fundamental source of hyping is that the "default" motives for many sales professionals are money, status, and job title. The problem is that those are merely rewards for successful selling-but they can never be core reasons to sell. They are results of successful selling, but not the roots. And such motives are certainly not earnest enough to keep you consistently motivated.

If you've been relying on something similar to keep yourself enthusiastic about selling-if you've been constantly reminding yourself of the potential payoff in order to get through tough times-if you've been solely looking to pump-you-up products to get yourself excited about selling, without looking at why you sell in the first place-then you're guilty of hyping. And you need to make a change before it's too late, before the "sugar high" wears off and you feel more lethargic about selling than when you started.

In order to break free from a hyping habit, you must leverage your core motives for selling. You must look deep inside yourself and answer the question of why: Why, above every other reason, do I want to succeed in sales? And if your answer is something that can be measured externally (for example, money, position, status), you will continually have trouble remaining motivated to sell-especially when difficulties arise. That's because how you sell (your action) is linked to why you sell (your motive), whether you know it or not.

We all have one predominant reason for why we sell. You have one motivating factor that dictates much of how, when, where, and why you go about your business of selling. And ideally that core motive drives you to new heights as a professional. But if you don't know your core motive for selling or are mistaken about its identity, you will constantly find it difficult to remain enthusiastic to sell. And when the going gets tough, you will have difficulty doing your job each day. You will have the hope to sell successfully, but not the heart. And like many, you will eventually call it quits, whether by force or by surrender.

The breeding ground for hyping is created when you don't take the time to understand the primary reason for why you sell. But the proving ground for hyping is cultivated when you try to pull up your proverbial bootstraps by looking externally for inspiration instead of internally where your true motivating factors exist. I found this out early on in my sales career ...

There I was again, in the midst of another success seminar. Along with thousands of people in the auditorium, I was standing on my feet, beating my chest, and proclaiming, "I am great. I am a winner!" The energy in the room was as intense as the speaker himself. He had literally put the audience in a trance that made us feel invincible. With a booming voice he summoned us to "dream big dreams!" Again and again, he shouted, "You can overcome anything!" And I was truly believing it.

I vividly remember the speaker as he towered over his audience and told his rags-to-riches story. It would have been difficult to convince anyone there that he or she couldn't make something big happen. With eight hours of pure exhilaration in my veins and several hundred dollars' worth of resources at my side, I felt "programmed" for success. I was invincible. But as I would soon find out, that wasn't enough.

As the days passed, I felt my motivation waning. All the hype that external stimulation had summoned was beginning to dissolve, and reality was setting in. After a few weeks, my success tapes sought hibernation in the backseat of my car. And before much longer, I had only distant memories of the selling energy I had come to possess that day at the seminar. While I was contemplating this reality, I stumbled upon what is now the governing axiom in my life. I finally realized that motivation can't come from the outside. It must begin on the inside if it is to be sustained consistently.


Our company's average client spends approximately $5,000 each year on products and events in order to become a better, more enthusiastic salesperson. And of all the salespeople I speak to each year, nearly one-third of them have heard me speak before. These statistics indicate that salespeople want to be successful. They want to remain motivated. They're not just spending money on products and seminars because it's fun. They're in it to win. They're looking for something to keep them on par with their colleagues, and they're looking for the key ingredient that will keep them enthusiastic about selling in good times and bad-the magic potion that will keep them motivated to ascend and go beyond the hill of mediocrity. But many salespeople don't realize that the heart of remaining passionate about selling resides within them, not in the latest, greatest "how to" merchandise. It's simple: when your core motives for selling are clear, your path to success is also clear. And there's no other way around.

I am a motivational speaker. It's what I do for a living. So it's obviously in my interest to motivate people, right? But in all my years of speaking professionally, I've learned one thing about the advice and enthusiasm my products and seminars offer: they're not the keys for remaining motivated to sell successfully. I can be the most motivational person in the world. I can play the loudest, most inspiring music at my events. I can show you the most touching, moving film clips on five big screens that surround the room. I can have you walk on hot coals. I can fill your head with the most cutting-edge selling techniques and tactics. I can bring in the most successful salespeople on the planet to assure you that "you, too, can be successful!" and "you, too, can have everything you want!" But unless you understand your core motives for selling, everything I do will leave you full of short-lived hype. And eventually you will need another fix to keep you going-something or someone else to pump you up again.


Excerpted from THE TOP TEN MISTAKES SALESPEOPLE MAKE & HOW TO AVOID THEM by TODD M. DUNCAN Copyright © 2007 by Todd M. Duncan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


MISTAKE #1: HYPING Relying on "You can do it" propaganda to maintain your sales motivation....................1
MISTAKE #2: POSING Trying to sell before training to sell....................17
MISTAKE #3: TINKERING Treating the symptoms but not the sickness of poor selling efforts....................39
MISTAKE #4: MOONLIGHTING Building a business-based life instead of a life-based business....................61
MISTAKE #5: MUSCLING Taking Lone Ranger actions instead of using team-connected strategies....................83
MISTAKE #6: ARGUING Selling your product before knowing your customer....................103
MISTAKE #7: GAMBLING Making unplanned calls on unknown customers....................123
MISTAKE #8: BEGGING Seeking your customers' business before earning your customers' trust....................141
MISTAKE #9: SKIMMING Focusing on surface profitability instead of client satisfaction....................159
MISTAKE #10: STAGNATING Losing your sales edge by neglecting your growth curve....................181
About the Author....................203
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    Nice one

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