The Five Major Pitfalls of Modern Selling Today And How to Avoid Them!

This blog covers five pitfalls that are killing your sales right now UNLESS you take the right action to adapt and turn the current trends into sales weapons that put you at an advantage.

My name is Jon Daniels. I have been working in sales since 1999 during which time I have closed millions of dollars in deals personally as well as been a leader to well over 400 sales professionals at this time…winning awards along the way.

It is fair for me to say, I have seen it, done it, got the t-shirt when it comes to sales. I walk my talk and only ever provide proven sales related advice to sales professionals, sales leaders and business owners.

The Sales Kick-Off Meetings for this year have now all taken place and as the dust settles, the sales industry is giving me some real cause for concern. Sales professionals run the risk of being out on their backsides unless they step up and take control of their careers.

Let me make a very simple summary of the situation for you:


The future for the sales professional has never been a lucrative as it is right now. At the same time however, it has also never been more dangerous to have your livelihood put at risk by the actions of others.

Here are the five key areas you as a sales professional must ensure you have a leading strategy one, or at least are following a proven strategy on otherwise you will be eaten alive by your competition. 

SALES PRO PITFALL #1 – “Being To Frickin’ Lazy”

I have been fortunate in my sales to career to be given the opportunity to lead sales professionals. I have led a lot of them. In fact at time of writing I would say well over 400 of them since 1999.

I can say with absolute confidence the biggest pitfall for any sales professional is simply laziness.

Yes you read that right…laziness.

If you are a sales professional you are working in a stressful environment where the law of the jungle applies. The strong get to eat, the weak starve.

If you do not understand it is your responsibility to work hard and make it happen, guess what?

Someone else will do it and close the deal.

Whilst there is a lot more to the art of selling than just it being a numbers game, the law of averages is clear. If you spend more time, making more phone calls, setting more appointments than anyone else then you have the higher potential to close more deals.

You would have generated more opportunity that you have earned the right to sell to.

Even if you have an atrocious conversion rate, as long as you know that you can reverse engineer what it takes to close one single deal and ensure you make enough calls for that to happen.

When you start you sales career and are wet behind the ears, hey it may well take you 50 calls to make 1 sale. At least you know what to hit a quota of 10 sales you need to make 500 calls during the allotted time frame to reach your target.

Even better, by making the 500 calls to get 10 sales, I guarantee you three things…

  • You will soon get frustrated at having to work so hard compared to your colleagues.
  • You will learn how to get 10 sales from 250 calls pretty dam quick so you do not have to work hard.
  • You will learn how to get 20 sales from 500 calls and double your sales from the same amount of effort.

You cannot be lazy when it comes to sales. The only person that loses is YOU.

It will cost you your job or it will cost you your business.

Work hard and take the money that is on the table for you. There is plenty of it out there in the world no matter what anyone tells you!

Exercise 01: What Does It Take You To Close One Deal?

1)    How many appointments did you book to get 1 sale? 

2)    How many prospects did you have to qualify to get that number of appointments booked?

SALES PRO PITFALL #2 – Making Excuses

You know what a good sales rep does?

When they blow a deal, they get angry. They get angry at themselves. T

They accept responsibility for missing the sale.

They take the time to go over what happened so they learn from it.

They never want to blow a deal for the same reason again.

Bad sales reps will just blame anyone or anything other than themselves.

They will blame…

  • the economy,
  • the market,
  • the time of year,
  • the product,
  • the company,
  • the competition,
  • budgets,
  • the price
  • and so on…

In reality, the whole world is to expensive right now and that won’t change.

We pay too many taxes, we pay too much for petrol to fuel our cars, we pay too much for electricity.

Yet the economies of the world still spin around successful each and every day with trillions of dollars of money being spent.

I hear these excuses from sales professionals every single day. They sit there and tell me they do not earn enough money because the world is too expensive whilst at the same time sipping their expensive premium coffee, bottled water or holding their pack of cigarettes.

Yes, people I work with telling me they have no money yet can spend ten bucks on a cup of coffee that is free in the kitchen in the office.

The same people spending a small fortune each week on a smoking habit.

The same people who insist on drinking water from a bottle they paid for when it is free from a tap.

But they have no money?

If you are a sales professional then in every interaction you have somebody it getting sold.

If you close a deal then you sold

If you lose a deal then your prospect sold you.

Either way, someone got sold and as you are the sales professional you should be super motivated by the challenge that you sell more than you are sold.

After a career as long as mine in sales, I know full well that the money is always there.

Your role as a sales professional is to ensure that your prospect…

  • Understands that the value of what they are investing in far outweighs the cost to purchase.
  • You eliminate any risk or fear they have about investing with you being a mistake.

People buy from people they know like and trust. Take the time to find out what they actually want and give it to them.

Don’t ram your product down their throat ringing up with a “hey buy my stuff” approach.

Take the time to ask about what problems they have, what dreams they want to achieve then use you expertise at what you are selling to demonstrate the value of how you can specifically help them.

Exercise 02: Who Can You Help?

1)    Who is your perfect prospect to contact?

2)    What are the common problems your perfect prospect is suffering from?

3)    What solutions can you offer to these common problems?

SALES PRO PITFALL #3 – You Stop Believing

I mentioned in the last section that people buy from people they know, like and trust.

You have to build a relationship first. You must earn the right to sell before actually selling.

There are millions of sales people around the world doing “hey buy my stuff” selling every single day.

These are the colleagues making it easier for you as they drive your prospects insane and make them hate anyone making sales calls.

Humans however like to be entertained. By taking a service approach and building relationships, you will stand out from the crowd and your prospects will enjoy talking with you.

A career secret that I believe made me successful was I would ignore what the majority of what my colleagues were doing and just looked at what the success ones were doing instead.

This built my confidence and as a result I made more sales.


Simply because I sounded completely 100% genuine on the phone that I was there to help my prospects not make a quick buck like a snake oil sales professional would do.

A sales professional has to believe in three things…

  • Believe in the company.
  • Believe in the product.
  • Believe in yourself.

The more I operated from this believe system, the more I sold because my prospects saw me as a trusted advisor. They believed I knew what I was talking about and trusted my opinion on the best solution for them.

Everyone today can claim to be an expert because they can search online about pretty much any topic imaginable. The problem occurs when they do not really understand what they are reading.

This is in your way in to help them in the specific way they want to be helped.

If prospects didn’t need help, then there would be no need for any sales professionals in this world as every product or service would be self-serviced and available without any assistance.

Let’s be honest, the world will never ever be that world.

Yes people are now willing to spend more online than 10 years ago for a product or service they want but at same time as we are now in a global economy the variety of options for anything you want is also huge.

People will always appreciate a trusted advisor to help them make the right decision for them as they are always willing to spend money.

As said before, it is perceived value and risk that must be correct before the transaction will happen.

If you believe in your company, product and yourself to help them make the right decision then the confidence you show during your negotiation will go along well in helping you close the deal over the competition.

Exercise 03: Why Do You Believe?

1)    What are the top 3 reasons for believing in your company?

2)    What are the top 3 reasons for believing in the product or service you are selling?

3)    What are the top 3 reasons for believing in yourself as a sales professional?

SALES PRO PIFTALL #4 – No Direction

Most sales roles involve a hefty bonus or comp plan with a lower salary.

It is important they succeed or they do not get paid. Welcome to world of sales!

The worst issue to have as a sales leader is a team member who is lacking direction of why they need to work hard each day.

There are three common motivations for someone in their career

  • Earn lots of money
  • Learning a lot
  • Progression in career

It is important that all three needs are meet and that the sales professional understands why they are responsible for working hard to make this happen.

If they do not produce results, they do not earn money to live on.

If they keep not earning, then they are not learning so the motivation level will drop

If motivation drops then the results will not improve then their career progression dream is shattered.

When recruiting for sales professionals there are three characteristics I am looking for.

  • A person who achieves “because they can”
  • A person who naturally positive about everything
  • A person who wants to learn more.

My career has shown me time and time again that the more a sales professional naturally demonstrates these characteristics, the more likely they will be successful.

I have made my fair share of mistakes here where I ignored my own red flag, recruited a new sales rep who ended up being an expensive mistake that has be dismissed and the recruitment process starts again.

I look for these three characteristics as these are people with the right attitude. These people are “hunters”.

Hunters love nothing more than seeking out new business and closing a deal because they can.

They do not need telling to work hard; they will do it because that is what they have to do to be a success.

They will always be positive because they do not want approval from anyone other than themselves.

They will always be open to learning as they accepted that if something helps them improve, they want to know it.

The main point for me though is around this “because I can” attitude.

In life, if you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right. You mind is programmed to move you on the path of least resistance to get you there as quickly as possible.

If you are being negative then whatever you say will happen often will as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The great thing about leading “because I can” people in sales is that if you are going to perform well without having a reason to, how good are they going to perform if you establish a real reason for them to do well.

When onboarding new sales professionals I always take the time to find out a bit more about what problems they have in life or what dreams they have so I can focus them on what level of success can get them there as quickly as possible.

Can they clear their debt in 2 months if they perform? Show them how!

Can they save for a deposit to buy a house in next 12 months? Show them how!

Can they avoid their dream wedding? Show them how!

I make it easy for them to understand what the money they can earn will do for them in their life right now.

Once there selfish reason for succeeding is establish that they do not need anyone’s approval for, these people will fly.

The more they fly, the more they learn.

The more they fly, the more they learn then the higher their chances of the career progression.

Can you understand how this all fits together?

The hard you work, the more you earn.

The more you earn, the more you learn.

The more you learn, the more you will advance in your career.

So as a sales professional, please clearly establish your selfish reason for deliver results consistently.

Make it about you…

  • What car do you want?
  • What house do you want?
  • What holiday do you want?

It is all down to you to make it happen, not the company you are working for. The more you act in your own interests, the more you company will appreciate you!

Exercise 04: What Is Your Selfish Motivation?

1)    How much money can you earn in the 3, 6 and 12 months by performing at the highest level in sales? 

2)    What specifically will you spend that money on? 

3)    Put a picture of what you will spend the money on in front of you for every call you make

SALES PRO PITFALL #5 – Lack Of Skill

My first job placement out of university was a position as a sales and marketing assistant. At the time, I had zero desire to be in sales at all. I’d never done it before, and I was terrified of picking up the phone.

But it gets worse.

Literally the first call I took, on my very first day was from a Mr McVitie.

For those of you who aren’t aware – Mr McVitie’s is a brand of biscuits in the UK.

His accent was so thick, and so difficult to understand – I was sure that someone was screwing with me. A rookie prank for my first day.

Turns out I was dead wrong. It was a real customer. So the entire sales floor listened in as I crashed and burned on the first sales call of my entire life.

My confidence was GUTTED.

After that I went into each call as if it was a battle.

As if sales were a blood sport – me versus the prospect, winner take all. One of us would leave critically wounded.

This went on for a long time, before I learned an important lesson about sales.

I Discovered A TRUTH That Changed Everything

There are three things I believe makes for a top sales professional

  • 50% is attitude.
  • 30% is being a subject matter expert.
  • 20% is about communicating.

I have already covered about attitude being important in this book. Honestly, half the job is dealing with the voices in your head causing you to doubt yourself.

The second important point is to have a complete understanding of what you are selling so you can genuinely help your prospects in an ethical manner.

Ethics are everything when it comes to sales. Burn 1 customers and you will burn 250 potential new customers as a result of who they talk to!

But the third point is about how to communicate. And by this I mean communicate in an influential manner that gets results with action being taken.

Think about sports people or musicians about how many hours they practice in their field to be the top at what they do.

David Beckham didn’t just kick a ball and become world class. He invested thousands of hours into himself to become one of the best soccer players in the world.

The Beatles didn’t just become a good band when they formed. They played for hours on end in Germany for pretty much a whole year before returning to the UK and becoming an overnight sensation…not so overnight really.

The point I am making is, if you are a sales professional, take the time to invest in your craft and become a master of it.

Back in 2006, my then manager, a guy name Phil, recommended I spent at least one hour a day reading books on sales, listening to CD’s (this was before MP3’s really existed…wow that makes me feel old!) or watching videos on YouTube.

Since 2006, I have pretty much done this every working day of my life and the results have been extraordinary.

I have an exceptional selling record on a personal level.

More rewarding for me is the amount of sales professionals I have helped through support and coaching and inspired them to be successful. A lot of these people are now way better at selling then I ever was to be honest but the gratitude they show me will be for life and that is what drives me every single day.

So I will share advice with you. If you do nothing else after reading this book except for one thing, please start to invest in your craft as a sales professional and become the master. I promise you the benefits to your life will be significant.

Exercise 05: How Will You Get Your 60 Minutes A Day?

1)    Find 5 books on sales to read, purchase then and read them.

2)    Find 3 Sales “Guru” to follow.

3)    Arrange a meeting the best Sales Professional you know and ask them to explain how they sell.

In Closing…

To recap, the five pitfalls your must avoid in modern selling are:

  • Avoid Laziness At All Costs.
  • Never Make Excuses For Not Closing A Deal.
  • Action Without Direction Leads Nowhere.
  • Don’t Ever Stop Believing In Yourself.
  • Don’t Get Stuck Doing The Same Thing.

Put the effort in required to get the job done, accept full responsibility for the work you do, always kept focused on the prize, believe in yourself to do it and keep investing into yourself. You are your best asset after all!

I hope you found this blog piece valuable. If you did please recommend it to your friends

Please share this report with any sales professionals, sales leaders or business owners you know. It will help them and they will thank you for it…

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