7 Dire Mistakes Sales Reps Make with Calls

In sales, a few phone calls could be the difference between making your quota…or not. Maximizing the effectiveness of each call is critical. There are a limited amount of leads and it is nearly impossible to control the influx of these leads. To complicate matters further, the list of leads you do have depreciates at approximately 25% per year.  Every great call you make will fortify your sales process and will be that much more impactful on your conversion rates and ultimately, your bottom line. On the other side, a mistake-laden call can be dire.

We compiled a list of the 7 most egregious mistakes every Sales Rep makes in order to generate awareness on what sales reps and their managers should be looking out for.

1. Too much focus on feature benefit

If you walked into a car lot and the salesman at the store was trying to sell you a brand new car, he might talk about how fast the car can go from 0-60 and the brand new stereo system however, those were not the features you were looking for. You were looking for a new car that would be suitable for the new baby you had on the way.  The salesman never asked why you were buying a car. Instead, he raved on about the “cool” features of a car that had no relevance to you.

This is what we call a feature benefit. You might have a product that can solve a lot of different problems, but your prospective customer will not buy for that reason, nor because the features are “cool”.  They will buy however, for the benefit that product adds to the company by solving a particular problem or pain point. Within the first 30 seconds of the call, communicate why the product will be helpful to them specifically and the value it will create. If not, you will quickly lose the interest of your prospect.

2. Talking too much

A tell-tale sign of whether or not you are talking too much is if you are engaging in a feature benefit discussion and are not aware of what the prospect’s pain points are. It is extremely difficult to keep someone engaged if you are the one constantly talking. An easy way to avoid both of these problems is to ask high-end, open-ended questions. Questions like, “Would you find this helpful?” or, “Does this solve the problem you were referring to earlier?” allow you to engage your audience and stay on the correct path.

3. Lack of adequate coaching

While this may be slightly stressful, there is a tremendous added value when the sales manager or VP of sales is listening in on the phone conversation. Not only does it force you to be better prepared for your call, but it also ensures quality feedback and improved calls in the future.

4. Not establishing clear objectives

It is imperative to not only acknowledge what the objectives are for the call you are going to make, but also for the buying stage your potential prospect is in. Not only does setting these objectives make the overall process clearer, but it is close to impossible to move an opportunity forward without it. These objectives are not just about getting key explanations across, but also about retrieving basic information from your prospect in order to make more educated and informed decisions. They are also put into place to ensure you do not move a prospect too quickly along the sales process. Finally, it is imperative to have clear and measurable objectives to be able to self-asses after the call.

5. Avoiding tough questions

It is the responsibility of the sales reps to convince people that their way is not the most efficient or effective way and that using the product will solve their problem. Again, it is important to stress that this does not mean a feature benefit. Rather, it is a means to provide thought leadership and education. People do not know what they do not know. It is the job of the sales rep to use both expertise and knowledge to inform the prospect. Proving a point can sometimes lead to tense questions; embrace these. Ask questions such as, “Why do you think this way?” and statements such as, “You said you had this problem, this is the way we do it and this is how it will help.” It will not only increase the likelihood of a sale but you will also gain the respect of the prospect and legitimize your company.

6. Next steps undefined

It is important to clarify next steps not only for the prospective customer, but for yourself as well. It is the most efficient way of reducing your sales cycle length as well as having concrete information that will more accurately gauge where you are in the sales process. Just because you had a successful sales call does not mean the deal is closed. Next steps set measurable objectives and create a path for all parties involved.

7. Not logging call data correctly

Data quality is one of the most important aspects of any organization. Logs should contain both basic information about a prospective customer, such as the CRM they are using, as well as deal-specific information, such as estimated budget spending. Accurate information is critical for sales reps on a call so they can look at the criteria and make better informed decisions as well as show their managers why they believe a certain prospect is moving through the sales cycle. Another reason data logging is of the utmost important is that it allows managers to study historical data. This will show where reps are struggling, what methods helped different reps succeed, and enable more accurate assumptions about what reps need to do in the future.


In sales, great execution can be the difference between closing a deal and losing a prospective customer; every prospect needs to be nurtured and catered to. Avoid these dire mistakes and treat every call as if it is a golden one.