Author: Joe Paranteau

Published Date:

5 common sales mistakes

5 Common Sales Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)

Sales reps are often their worst enemies. Why? Because they make 5 common sales mistakes that cost them sales and hurt their careers. Here are the five common sales mistakes and how you can avoid them:

 Mistake #1: You sound like a salesperson

You're trying to be someone you're not. For sales to go well, you have to be YOU. One of the common rookie sales mistakes is pretending to be someone else. Maybe you've seen a sales rep who seems to have it all together, and you're trying to model their approach. They are crushing it in every sales call and are a smooth talker. That's how top producers are supposed to look – RIGHT? 


Be authentic. Be genuine. People can spot a fake from a mile away, and they'll have no problem rejecting you and your offer.

Used car salesman

Words matter

The words you say and how you say them matter. You've got to be authentic, and the type of person buyers can trust. Trust begins with understanding and the empathy that comes from listening more than you talk. It's amazing to think sales mistakes like this happen.

Often, new sales reps think there is magic in every word they say, so they blather on about their product or solution in the sales call. Avoid talking too much. Instead, listen and ask questions to understand their situation thoroughly.

A typical sales mistake for sales reps is to pitch rather than have a conversation. A conversation is a two-way street. It's not a one-way trip. It's not about you. It's about them and what they need.

Listen First

Sometimes it's not what you say that gives you away. You are too busy sharing all the great details of your sales offer to notice your customer has lost attention and is now reading emails on their phone. You are not curious enough about what matters to them.

Listen to understand. You will be ready to move forward when you know the situation. Sales teams who listen close the deal.

The Right Message is Appropriate

Another way you sound like a salesperson is by HOW you deliver your message. Your sales presentation should harmonize with customers and what they expect. If you come on too strong, your prospects will become suspicious and believe you are trying to force a decision for your self-interests. Don't rush it, and don't create a false sense of urgency at the expense of the relationship.

Be bold

The flip side of coming on too strong is a lack of confidence. You need to project confidence, even if you don't feel it. If you don't believe in yourself, your product, or your company, why should your customer?

If you know your stuff, people will want to work with you. Preparation builds your swagger better than anything and will help you stand out in saleshttps://www.jparanteau.com/how-to-stand-out-in-sales/.

Mistake #2: You don't qualify the deal

I get it. Salespeople, especially new ones, are always excited at the first hint of success. You work hard, and as soon as you hear buying signals, you assume it's a done deal, only to have your vibe crushed later when the deal falls apart.

It's a common sales mistake salespeople make. When it happens, the sales rep is left wondering how to explain the mistake.

The antidote is to qualify the deal. What makes it a good fit for your time and attention as well as a good fit for your prospect? With guidance, your sales teams will be equipped to prevent one of the most common mistakes in selling.

Qualification process

What is qualification, and why is it important to your sales team?

Qualification determines whether a prospect is ideal for your company, product, or service. You don't want to waste your sales teams time (or your prospect's time) when you are not in mutual alignment.

Patterns give you clues about what matters to customers. These patterns can become the basis for your qualification of new customers.

The consequences of not qualifying your opportunity

If you don't qualify your sales opportunity, you could be wasting valuable time. You might sell a product or service the customer doesn't need or can't afford.

It's one of those sales mistakes made when you rush the deal. Understanding your customer's needs and budget is vital before proposing a solution. You might also be selling to the wrong person or department (common mistake) without qualification. Qualification is essential to ensure successful sales outcomes.

How to go about qualifying your opportunity

When qualifying for an opportunity, it's essential to understand the advantages and risks. Here are a few tips on how to go about qualifying an opportunity to determine if the opportunity is worth pursuing.:

  1. Define your criteria. What are the most important factors to you in an opportunity? Is it the company's size? The location? The industry? The team? Decision makers? Define what's most important to you and use that as your guide when qualifying opportunities.

  2. Do your research. Once you've defined your criteria, research the companies that meet those requirements. Look at the company's website, read reviews, and speak with people who have worked there. The research will help you better understand what the company is like and whether or not it would be a good fit for you.

  3. Ask the right questions. When interviewing with a company, ask questions that will help you assess whether or not it meets your criteria. For example, if company size is crucial to you, ask how many employees they have. If location is important, ask where the company is based. By asking the right questions, you'll get a better idea of whether or not the opportunity is a good fit for you.

Mistake #3: You don't prepare

One of the very first steps in most sales processes requires a salesperson to do their homework. In today's competitive marketplace, preparation comes before profits.

If you want to stand out in sales, sales reps can position themselves as trusted advisors and build long-term relationships by taking the time to prepare to solve their customers' problems.

Preparation is vital for salespeople looking to be successful. Your prep should include pre-meeting planning, exploring public financial statements and social media accounts for potential clients, and understanding what success looks like in their industry.

Understand the culture, values, and what's essential to the business. Talk to employees, partners, and suppliers.

Salesperson preparing for a meeting

How often is this step taken for granted and disregarded?

I've been getting a lot of bad sales pitches lately, which is starting to wear on me. Here are just some examples of how people are squandering their first impressions.

The LinkedIn Sales Experiment

I've been experimenting on LinkedIn to see how widespread sales laziness is. In my profile, my first name is “-.” I place my first and last name in the last name field. It's a surefire way to spot the spammers because their intro emails stand out.

Check this out.: 

How i modified my linkedin to spot spammy sales emails

Failing to proofread before hitting send.

  • You can tell there was little effort put in by proofreading this mass mailer before sending it off as another canned message of impersonalized information that doesn't address my needs or interests.

Someone who wanted my sales team engagement
  • If you use automated technology for outreach, preview your emails against the actual targets.

  • Here I was targeted by age, and geo. The sender didn't explore my background in Entrepreneurship.


Do i need a franchise?
  • Consider breaking your audiences into smaller, more targeted groups. Ask yourself, how can I stand out and relate to what matters for this person?

Missing an opportunity to make a connection.

  • Connecting virtually with prospects doesn't demand you to be a data scientist. A fast glance through social media and an internet search in 30 seconds can give you enough insights to create a memorable first connection.

  • I don't know about you, but this is a high-stakes way to prospect new business. Since LinkedIn is all about relationships, spammy outreach may get you blocked, and your target buyer may never give you access again – even if you move to a new company!

  • Take a moment to see what you can learn about the person you hope to turn into a customer.

Making assumptions early.

  • One of salespeople's biggest mistakes is assuming that their products or services are the only solutions to their customer's problems. In reality, customers often look for ways to solve their problems and are more likely to trust a salesperson who can help them do that.

  • Good preparation involves research and asking questions so that your offer will resonate with the customer's specific needs.

  • P.S. VC's – Coach your investment leaders to take their time to prepare.

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You heard it many times: “If you do nothing, prepare for failure.” What will you bring to the conversation that is new and insightful? What will you say that is memorable? How can you make your product or service stand out from the rest? Do your homework and be prepared to answer these questions.

Technology has made preparation easy; the rest is up to you.

Mistake #4: You don't have a clear sales destination

Let's imagine a journey together. What do we know about our destination? How will we get there, and how can I know this is the right path? How can we navigate uncharted territory full of uncertainty (and risk)? What awaits at each turn?

The journey is called “your complex sale.” Many who wing it just hope things don't go completely wrong.

A sales rep struggles with an uncertain destination

Your map is the sales process

A sales process is essential for success. By following a proven process, salespeople can increase their chances of making a sale and achieving their goals. There are dangers associated with deviating from the sales process. Customers can quickly become confused if salespeople do not signpost their goals and intentions. Confusion can lead to misunderstandings and mistrust, damaging the relationship and ultimately leading to lost revenue.

Salespeople who do not follow a sales process risk missing out on essential steps, such as listening to understand and analyze needs. As a result, salespeople must adhere to a sales process to maximize their chances of success, especially during times of crisis.


We spoke about the importance of planning, and having a goal goes hand-in-hand. You should have a plan and be able to explain what the meeting will cover so that your buyer can understand the purpose and know what to expect.

The best outcomes of meetings come from having a plan. Communicate it clearly with your customer before, during, and after the meeting, so they know what's next on deck for them!

Closing is kind

Closing a sale is key to gaining commitment. Not having a destination is a foundational sales mistake that will frustrate your customers because you don't know how and when to close. If you don't ask for the next step or the sale, you will not get it. It's as simple as that.

Moving the meeting toward a mutually agreed upon destination, ending with action, is vital to success. You have to be willing to close, and you have to be able to handle objections. If you're not, you're just a professional visitor wasting everyone's time.

Avoid sales mistakes by getting commitment on a sale

Mistake #5: You have low EQ (emotional intelligence)

Emotional intelligence is a critical success factor in many professions, and sales is no exception. But what exactly is emotional intelligence, and how important is it for salespeople? Let's take a closer look.

What is EQ?

It's helpful first to understand the concept of intelligence quotient or IQ before you can appreciate EQ. IQ measures a person's cognitive abilities and potential for academic success and other intellectual pursuits.

On the other hand, emotional intelligence measures a person's ability to perceive, understand and manage emotions.

It's important to note that emotional intelligence is not the same thing as being emotionless. People with high emotional intelligence are often very in tune with their own emotions as well as the emotions of others. They're also better able to regulate their emotions, even in difficult situations.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Sales

Since emotional intelligence encompasses skills like confidence, self-awareness, empathy, and self-regulation, it should be no surprise that these skills are essential for salespeople. After all, sales require building relationships with others, handling difficult conversations and objections, and maintaining composure under pressure.

Studies have shown that salespeople with high emotional intelligence deliver double the results. In other words, emotionally intelligent salespeople outsold their less emotionally intelligent counterparts by more than 50%. Another group had a $6 return for every dollar invested in teaching EQ skills.

 In addition to being more successful at making sales, emotionally intelligent salespeople are more likely to succeed in other aspects of their careers. Research shows that emotionally intelligent people are more likely to get promoted and receive higher performance reviews than those less emotionally intelligent.

 So there you have it: Emotional intelligence is vital for sales success. If you want to improve your career in sales (or any other profession), work on honing your emotional intelligence skills.

Reading the room

One sales mistake resulting from low EQ is that you are not in tune and observing others during your interactions. People who can't read the room cannot adjust on the fly when necessary. Doing so demonstrates flexibility. If you're not flexible, you will not be successful in sales.

You have to be able to roll with the punches and adapt to change.

Empathy wins

If you can't put yourself in your customer's shoes, you will not be able to sell them anything. You need to be able to understand their needs and wants, and you need to be able to communicate that understanding.

I was judging a national collegiate sales competition earlier this year and noticed some sales reps asked the prospect before they opened their laptop, pulled out their phones, or took notes. The top scoring ones always asked permission and explained why it was essential to the customer.

Another simple sales mistake that is 100% avoidable is not respecting customer's time. You will not be successful if you can't show up or end on time. You need to manage your time and appreciate your customer's time.

Feedback is an invaluable part of any business. It's essential to understand your customer's feedback, even if they choose a different company or product than what YOU recommend – because that means their experience was good!

Please don't call it anything other than reality.

Stop the blame game

Selling demands accountability, not blame. If the prospect doesn't understand your offer, explore how you can tell a better story that communicates your solution value. Selling requires a lot of hard work, rejection, and frustration.

Most people quit at the first sign of trouble. Quitting is never an option. If you're unwilling to fight for your customer, someone else will.

It's not about you

It's all about your customer's success and their payoff. However, some amateur salespeople will tell their customers they “need” to purchase by a specific time to “help me make my numbers for the month.”

Here's a news flash. It's not about you. Your prospect can see right through you if you're just in it for the money. You need to be able to show that you care about their success, not just your own. If you're always talking about yourself, you will not be successful. You need to be able to focus on your customer and their needs, not your own.


Sales mistakes can cost you dearly in terms of both time and money. By being aware of the five most common sales mistakes, you can put yourself in a much better position to succeed.

  1. You Sound like a salesperson: One sales mistake is sounding like a salesperson. This can come across as pushy and make the prospect feel uncomfortable. Instead, focus on building a rapport and being genuine in your interactions.

  2. Not qualifying the deal: Another sales mistake is not qualifying the deal. This means not taking the time to ensure that the prospect is actually interested in what you're selling. This can be a waste of time and money.

  3. Not preparing: A third sales mistake is not preparing properly for meetings or calls. This gives the impression that you're not organized or ready to do business.

  4. No clear sales destination: A fourth sales mistake is having no clear sales destination. This means not having a specific goal or outcome in mind for the sale. Without a clear destination, it's easy to get sidetracked or lost along the way.

  5. Low EQ: Finally, salespeople with low emotional intelligence (EQ) tend to make more mistakes. This means they're not as good at reading people or understanding their feelings. As a result, they may say or do things that offend or turn off prospects.

By avoiding these five common sales mistakes, you'll be well on your way to success in this vital part of your business.


Find your Sales Superstar – 9 Superstar Traits Every Salesperson Needs

It’s common to feel fear as a salesperson, but this is something you 100% need to overcome in order to be successful. If you’re not careful, fear can control your life and squander your potential. Sales isn’t a career for the timid, and many mediocre sellers end up full of regret due to chances not taken and dreams not chased. If you don’t learn how to overcome your fears and rise up, you risk leading a life with regrets.

Overcoming your fears is the first step on your journey to becoming a person of action. You’re the main character in your story, and it’s important to start acting like it. Mediocre salespeople know what to do, but make excuses for not following through. To be a superstar seller, you have to take action when others give up.

Here are the nine essential qualities that you need to take control of your career and your future. Develop these traits every salesperson needs, and you’ll be ready to rise up every day.

9 essential traits every salesperson needs to conquer fear

You can read more here: 9 Traits Every Salesperson Needs to Overcome Fear – AllBusiness.com

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How to Be Great at Sales Without Seeming Salesy

Author: Tyler Gallagher

People see authenticity, and they love it. If you believe in what you’re doing and what you’re selling, then you will never be salesy or pushy. I’ve been pushy in sales at times, but it’s because I have absolutely been convinced that what I was doing was the right thing for the customer at the time. When you mix passion and purpose, it equals results.
-Joe Paranteau

a part of my series about how to be great at closing sales without seeming pushy, obnoxious, or salesy, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Paranteau.

Joe Paranteau is a leading expert on sales, generating more than $1B in just five years, an uncommon accomplishment. He has led nearly 30K sales meetings in his 28-year career with Fortune 500, SMBs, and startup businesses. In his first book, Billion Dollar Sales Secrets, he shares fifteen secrets to help inspire salespeople to rise to meet today’s challenges, ignite their dreams and success. Connect with him on LinkedIn @thejpar.

Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this career path?

I’ve been selling since I was a kid. 

Read more at: Author Joseph Paranteau: How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesy | by Tyler Gallagher | Authority Magazine | Medium

Billion dollar sales secrets

Billion Dollar Sales Secrets

What are the secrets to more sales?

How do companies grow their sales revenue and create customers who are raving fans? For salespeople, they wonder, “How will I hit my quota so I can buy a new house, buy a new car, take a vacation?” or another dream. Can sales success be learned?

Sales are the great equalizer of dreams. Everyone wants to be like the top salespeople, but nothing happens until a sale. Many look for the easy button to show them the sales secrets they need to become one of the world's top salespeople overnight.

The truth is, I explored some of the best sales tips that have helped me connect with business leaders. My customers were some of the world's largest companies, entrepreneurs who struck gold, and amazing people who were willing to share their secrets with me. I learned from sales experts who shared sales strategies I was able to put to use. I have read sales books and met their author. I'm ecstatic that today, my book, Billion Dollar Sales Secrets, is available worldwide. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million are just a few places, including thousands of indie books stores, libraries, and universities. If you want it and can't find it, let me know. I am joining the ranks of many others who share their secrets to sales success.

The early reviews reveal people love it!

A recent editorial review shared: “The book addresses all aspects of selling, from overcoming cold-call jitters to turning one-time successes into long-term opportunities. Its solutions to problems incorporate resources like trust and honesty or using self-awareness to tackle roadblocks in the way. Its fine-tuned advice on issues like planning and delivering stand-out presentations, the eight components of a successful call, and getting the timing right on follow-up efforts draw on Paranteau's years of experience well.” (Forward Reviews, Jan 2021)Hands, clapping, applause

Sales Secret #1: Sales success starts with you.

I finished this last year, on March 5th, 2020. I watched the pandemic's devastating impact hit worldwide, and I knew life would change fast. I told people on my team who were at high risk to go home and prepare. It was the wrong time to release a book. 

Fast forward a year. As the pandemic spread, work didn't stop. It changed. It was a new selling season, not like anything anyone had ever experienced before. The secret was that everyone was making it up as we went, day by day.

Don't you see – that's the secret! The sales secret is staring you in the face. You are enough right now to be successful. You don't have to compare yourself with where you want to be a year from now or the time to grow into the salesperson you are envious of today. The person in your business who has a great car the nice clothes makes selling seem effortless. You know the type. They would undoubtedly get a starring role if they were casting for a movie.

Look in the mirror for your sales secrets

Over the past year, I've cried with customers, partners, and employees too many times. Instead, I dedicated my time to helping thousands of customers save their businesses and transition to a new world of work. And I began to weave new insights into the book. I discovered empathy is critical to sales success.

Sales Secret #2: Learn how to connect with people.

This book isn't about me. It's about you and the real people you know. Everyone sells. People need vital takeaways that will have a more immediate impact today! Sales are the fuel for job creation and the livelihoods of millions. 

Today, I'm saying hello to many people I've never met before. I hope we can become fast friends soon. I've packed fifteen essential selling tips into this book to help you elevate your confidence and sales performance. I want to engage with you and your business.

You are students in college, wondering what the future holds. You're professional sellers and company leaders, CEOs, and “mompreneurs” with a growing family and business or direct marketing dream. You are charities that need donors, consultants selling the future, recruiters getting people back to work, veterans transitioning into a commercial business, small and family business owners struggling to stay afloat, and career-changers looking to put bread on the table. I wanted you to know that I am here to help you!

Sales Secret #3: Be up for a challenge.

The idea for this book started when customers and co-workers asked me to write a book of my sales secrets. The truth is, I didn't have the guts to write it then, and I lacked confidence. I've never seen a Native American business author before and was taking a leap of faith.

In March 2017. I reached a personal objective to sell a billion dollars in less than two years. I realized I was now in a small, elite group. I was confident and ready to share, but I had to learn WHY I was successful. What were my secrets to sales success, and what had all the other sales experts left out of the advice I learned over my career?

I dissected everything I knew about selling, jotting sales concepts onto hundreds of post-its on my wall. I classified and reshuffled these little yellow thoughts. Then I started to write. The results were

Sales Secret #4: Give thanks before and after your success!

It took three years to write this book. I worked full-time while balancing life, school, family, and friends. I wrote early in the mornings on weekends when no one was stirring, and many nights after everyone had gone to sleep. Thanks to technology, my voice dictated into text on my commute to work. I could tell when other drivers cut me off or agitated me by some of the words I later deleted in editing.

Billion dollar sales secrets:  superstar selling tips for all seasons by joe paranteau. Image of the book standing on its edge to display the cover, while it rests on three books on their side.

I enrolled so many fantastic people along the way to help make this book a reality. Above all, I'm grateful for them and their partnership. Andy Earle helped me edit and make sense of how to deliver the most value to readers. G Sharp Design in Charleston, SC, was a fantastic partner. I'm sorry if I'm a little protective; they are family now. 

My family has encouraged me 110%, and I've had a fantastic publicist team and many coaches, mentors, and advisors. My co-workers at Microsoft inspire me daily as we tackle significant challenges. Thank you all! The process has been life-changing. I'm thankful to all my readers who will spend time on the pages of this book. It's my goal to give you the knowledge and confidence to help you on your sales journey.

Sales Secret #5: Plan for tomorrow.

Now comes the work of rebuilding, and sales will take center stage in the recovery. You and the people you know will benefit from these insights, and I can't wait to help you discover more about yourself and what might be holding back your potential. 

In my time selling, I've learned a lot. Many people have influenced my sales career and helped me become the best salesperson I could be and become a great person. I've read many great books across various disciplines that intersect a sales career. I also put some elements into this book that I've never seen from anyone else. After I made mistakes, I thought about why I had never heard about some of these critical aspects of selling.

You don't have to wonder because I gave you all the vignettes to help you today where you are and inspire you for the future.

Check our Chapter 1 for Free

Chapter 1 is available for anyone who wants to see if they like it before buying it on my website. Also, check out my home page as well.

I'm so excited to meet you today! It's my honor to be on your team. Together, we will build your customer base. I want to help ignite your sales performance, dreams, and successes. Now let's change the world, one customer at a time.