9 (More) Terrible Sales Ideas We’re Addicted To.


Share on LinkedIn

(If you missed the first 8 terrible sales ideas, you can read them here…)

9. “Checking in”

Somehow we seemed to have missed the memo that our clients down really don’t care about our personal schedules. The idea that we place a call or send an email to a customer with the opening line “I just wanted to check in with you” is just silliness. More than that, it indicates a sloppy sales process. Somewhere upstream in the process, the opportunity wasn’t qualified properly or key information that you need to deliver results was somehow lost in the process. The “Check in” is a clear indicator that you need to check out your sales process and hone some new skills.

Edgy Alternative: Start every conversation with the word “YOU” and stop communicating unless you are delivering new value.

10. Always-on Prospecting

Prospecting doesn’t need to turn you into a jerk. Just because you are passionate about what you are up to doesn’t mean that we are. It’s a misnomer that you always need to be prospecting. In fact if you try to do that then you’ll find yourself not really prospecting at all. You’ll find yourself franticly flailing — tossing out business cards, and interrupting new friends with your “I do that too” tagline. Getting new business is vital to your ongoing success. But when you force yourself at prospects it’s just distasteful and ineffective.

Edgy Alternative: Intense short-term bursts of targeted activity aimed at attracting key markets.

11. Ponderous CRM tasks

As the sales process has rapidly accelerated over the years, much of that can be attributed to the use of technology enablement. The Customer Relationship Management platform is the single largest toolset at play for sales teams. And it consumes incredible amounts of time from team members. Organization is key to stay focused and prioritized. Lists of tasks, opportunities, and customer contact information are all vital . You need them. But are you sure you need a CRM in the first place? Maybe you need to be a little more disciplined and lose all the “busy work” organizing your database.

Edgy Alternative: A careful, educated selection of sales tools instead of running after what’s being advertised.

12. Industry jargon

Ahhh…. the buzzwords. What would we do without them? Every industry has their own set of coy, unintelligible acronyms that are bantered around with linguistic deft – as if the use of the words themselves qualify us as players. And it’s a big fail. New customers are intimidated by not understanding what we are talking about. And prospects have a hard time differentiating us from the rest of the goons in the industry, since we all happen to be using the exact same vocabulary. By the way, a lot of this jargon is influenced by scientific or technical advancements in our particular vertical. And traditionally, that crowd hasn’t been the best at selling things. So, you might want to think twice before adopting their terminology.

Edgy Alternative: Create your own “humanized” terminology and use them confidently.

13. Not apologizing

Somehow being fallible seems to vanish when we emerge each morning from our “bat cave” and head out to sell. We fail to connect with prospective customers in one of the single most powerful ways when we refuse to apologize. Emotion is like a pendulum. Crying can turn into laughter with the right comment. Anger and frustration can turn into relief and appreciation with the right touch. And instead of using this to our advantage (and frankly, just doing the right thing) we stand with our chests pushed out, defiantly reminding our customer that “we don’t make mistakes like that”. It’s naive business-making at the core.

Edgy Alternative: Admit when you screwed up and give back until your buyer knows you’re sorry

14. Listening to the experts

You know more than the experts. Yet in every industry we pay homage to the single few intrepid leaders who emerge from the pack with a vision of the future. And that “following the leader” ideology is extremely self-limiting. Expertise is something that we all have. And sharing your unique perspective is a huge differentiator. An old proverb states that: “To learn, one must teach others”. That’s exactly the model for sharing expertise. You’ll emerge from the crowd, be different, and attract new customers who want bold, new solutions — rather than just another “monkey do” consultant. Learn from everyone but be your own man.

Edgy Alternative: Defy the gurus. Build your expertise in exactly all the opposite ways. And be bold.

15. Qualifying sales effort

As markets and services began accelerated diversification, the idea of qualification became a prevailing methodology for targeting potential new customers and maintaining effective time management. Through a series of questions (that we continuously refined) we were able to see “if” and “how much” time we should spend with a prospect before our activity became a complete waste of our time. Certainly, effective and efficient use of your time is wildly important to your overall success. But no series of questions or amount of “industry experience” can predict the intangibles. Rationing your experience to those you feel most eligible sounds a little selfish (and down-right “skeevy”).

Edgy Alternative: Giving away as much help and insight as you can manage (without ask for anything in return)

16. Email marketing

Almost 3 million emails are sent every second of the day. We’ve evolved from door-to-door sales to direct mail campaigns to telesales to now email marketing. And as with all of the previous evolutions, quantity seems to be the standard modus operandi. We buy lists of names or create complex web processes to capture traffic in order to build a database of candidates for our “email blasts”. And then we send out horribly boring “all about me” content that is shamefully one-way. We are even so bold to send these newsletters from our super-intimate “[email protected]” email address. And while the technology is impressive, we haven’t stopped to rethink if we are adding any value to the world with our frantic emailing activity.

Edgy Alternative: A dedication to the “conversation”. A revolution against being boring.

17. “Doing” way too much

Sales has come down to a bullet list of what you’ve done — a series of actions of accomplishments. And we’re careful to share our most recent “104% of quota” accomplishments with anyone who will listen. Somehow we imagine that “doing” things is what makes us who we want to be. And that’s horribly misguided thinking. Doing is always a result of being. Who you are (deep down) will always drive what y0u do and who you become. So attitudes become important over immediate actions. And yet we train new sales actions and somehow downplay the need for better sales attitudes. And then we wonder why our amazing “power phrases” don’t help us close down more deals. Maybe it’s because actions don’t really matter if our attitudes are broken.

Edgy Alternative: Therapy and a focus on “being” rather than “doing”. Fixing our head games.

Without a doubt it’s time that we reexamine why we do what we do.

We’ve accepted the status quo with little question and it’s undercut our ability to achieve outrageous success.

We’ve become addicted to predictable, “follow the crowd” mediocrity.

But we can change all of that.

And it can start today.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dan Waldschmidt
Speaker, author, strategist, Dan Waldschmidt is a conversation changer. Dan and his team help people arrive at business-changing breakthrough ideas by moving past outdated conventional wisdom, social peer pressure, and the selfish behaviors that stop them from being high performers. The Wall Street Journal calls his blog, Edge of Explosion, one of the Top 7 blogs sales blogs anywhere on the internet and hundreds of his articles on unconventional sales tactics have been published.


  1. Good post. Another you may like to add is trying to hard to make a sale. I have always felt that You can’t make a sale, all you can do is create the right Buying environment and the sale is up to the Buyer. When you are focused on making the sale, you are focused on you and not connecting with the Buyer. Instead focus on creating value for the buyer and let go of the outcome since you have no control over it anyway. The Buyer will then feel you are less needy. No one wants to be rescued by a desperate person.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here