Don't Kill a Sale. Use These 5 Methods Instead

BY Rachel Cagle
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There are 10 ways sales reps can instantly kill a sale, according to Dan Duffy, writing for Selling Power. These include:

  1. Not pitching to the decision-maker
  2. Talking too much
  3. Announcing, not selling
  4. Focusing on winning arguments
  5. Giving a “one size fits all” sales pitch
  6. Hard selling instead of need-​based selling
  7. Focusing features instead of benefits
  8. Dropping the price
  9. Not asking for the sale
  10. Not following through

That’s a lot of ways sales reps can kill a sale. However, there are five easy ways reps can combat these sales killers.

How to Combat Methods that Kill a Sale


One of the most frustrating roadblocks sales reps encounter is when they realize they haven’t pitched to the decision-​maker. You’ve done all that work and given the best pitch of your career only to be told, “Actually, you’ll need to speak with…” Talk about a way to kill a sale.

While you may be tempted to blame this problem on the person you ended up pitching to, they’re not always the heart of the problem. Sales reps get so used to rejection during their outreach calls that many tend to jump at the first offer to listen from whomever they happen to be calling. However, the first person to answer the phone is rarely a decision-​maker. They have people for that.

The solution to this sales killer is to always qualify the person you’re talking to BEFORE you put in the effort of pitching to them. Do your research into who you should be targeting beforehand. Or if you’re having trouble identifying a decision-​maker, don’t feel as if you can’t ask the gatekeeper, after a quick elevator pitch, who could benefit from your product or service. Don’t kill a sale by not being prepared. Our research shows that making this mistake creates a credibility problem.


Simply taking the time to listen can reduce the problems that frequently kill a sale. No one wants to talk with someone who doesn’t seem interested in listening, especially not salespeople. You already have to combat the sales professional's reputation of being pushy, don’t add fuel to the fire. When you focus on talking instead of listening, you’re denying yourself valuable information that could make the difference between landing a sale and missing the mark with your pitch.

By listening, you’re giving the prospect the opportunity to communicate their needs to you. Consumers' needs are the lifeblood of successful sales. If the prospect doesn’t have a need to fulfill, they don’t have a reason to make a purchase from you. Even if you go into the pitch thinking you know what the prospect’s need is, you could be proven wrong. But you won't know unless you listen to them. “Sales pros know they have to focus on two-​way communication designed to create rapport with a prospect that concentrates on highlighting the ‘value-​added benefits’ they and their company can provide,” says Duffy. Don’t kill a sale by assuming you know everything from the get-​go. Listen. You’ll learn something that will help you land the sale, or at least not burn a bridge you could return to later with a more relevant product.


On Duffy's list of ways to kill a sale, problems five through seven focus on how you’re presenting your product or service. Crafting the perfect presentation is the best way to overcome these problems. Let’s look at each one:

  • One-​Size-​Fits-​All: For anyone who has bought an article of clothing marketed with the one-​size-​fits-​all pitch knows that statement is not true. Why would a sales pitch be any different? You can’t approach all sales opportunities the same way. You’re always pitching to unique individuals with their own challenges and needs. Make sure your pitch reflects those aspects or else you’ll kill the sale with your cookie cutter pitch that doesn’t even remotely promote your product in a way that resonates with the prospect.
  • Hard Selling: No. Just… no. Who wants to be pigeonholed into a situation that can easily be customized to better suit their needs? Hard selling is a for-​sure way to kill a sale. Your pitch and approach need to, again, focus on the prospect's unique needs. Trying to force the prospect to accept your one-​size-​fits all pitch and offering will not lead to success. Your competitors are numerous and fierce and your prospect knows that.
  • Features Over Benefits: Again, this problem loops back to not focusing on the prospect’s needs. Your product’s features may be top-​of-​the-​line and worth bragging about. However, features rarely solve a prospect’s problems. Instead of focusing on the product’s features and hoping one resonates with the prospect, make sure your pitch revolves around the benefits the prospect can reap by buying from you. What can your product offer the prospect that your competitors can’t? What proof do you have that can support your claim? (Cough, customer reviews and success stories, cough). “In your excitement to make the sale, you might assume your prospects know the benefit to them,” says Duffy. “Don’t assume they know. Confirm it!”

What are the last two ways to combat methods that kill a sale? You’ll have to read Duffy’s article to find out.