You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Not Closing Sales? Look to These 5 Mistakes. You should be reflecting on what has gone right and what has gone wrong in the past, but these errors may be contributing.

By Adam Callinan

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Developing the right skill set to be effective at sales takes time and, more importantly, the ability to learn from your mistakes or failures. If you're not reflecting after both a successful sale or an unsuccessful attempt with intent to determine what worked and what didn't, you're really doing yourself an injustice and dramatically reducing the possibility of improvement.

When you do actually take the time, here are five commonly made mistakes to pay particular attention to:

1. You're too aggressive. Nobody likes to be strong-armed into buying something. This doesn't mean that it can't be done, in fact it happens regularly, but the reality is that you might close a single sale but will likely eliminate the possibility of future opportunity.

Related: To Win More Prospects, Stop Selling and Start Courting

So tone it down and work to get the person you're selling to want to buy -- and not because they're trying to get you to leave as quickly as possible.

2. Selling a product, not a solution. If you've ever read a sales book, this isn't a new concept, but it's important to note because it's a common mistake, particularly amongst new salespeople. Nobody buys products, they buy solutions to problems that they have.

For example, you don't buy sliced bread because you have a great appreciation for grain-based products, you buy it because slicing bread off of a loaf is a pain and having it pre-sliced solves the problem.

Use this simple but effective thought process when developing your sales pitch. Sell solutions to problems, not products.

3. Not investing in whom you're selling to. Here's a question: With respect to your biggest potential account, do you know the names of the children of the decision-maker? If not, it's likely that you don't have a real relationship with them, and as a result are going to struggle to close.

People naturally want to do business with people that they like and are personally connected to, which means that you need to invest time in creating real relationships with those to whom you're attempting to sell to.

Related: 3 Books That Will Help Change The Way You Think About Sales

4. Chasing the impossible. Are you pursuing a "golden egg" account? You know, the one that has the ability to change the whole face of your company because of its incredible size and purchasing ability? Guess what? Every competitor in your space is vying for their attention and have been for quite some time, which means that you're going to fight a long and arduous uphill battle just to get a meeting.

Instead of fighting your way upstream amongst all the other fish in the river, find the sales points that are sizable but more approachable and spend your time there. I'm not suggesting that you don't go after the behemoths, but it's really important that you balance your time with more reasonable offerings so you don't find yourself dependent on a single account. More likely, you'll have none.

5. You've spoken negatively about your competitors. It's easy to just tell the person that you're selling to that your competitor is terrible because they make a bad product that doesn't work.

That creates a list of problems: nobody likes dealing with negative people, you haven't sold them a solution, the person you're selling to likely has a great and personal relationship with the rep from the company you're bashing and business slander is real and has consequences -- yes, you're liable for the things that come out of your mouth.

Instead, take the high road and sell your solutions above and beyond those of your competition, and better yet, invest the time to create a personal relationship to get the person you're selling to want to buy your product -- not solely because of the problems your product solves, but because they like you personally and want to help.

Related: Lights, Camera, Sell? What Your Sales Team Can Learn from Actors.

Adam Callinan

Entrepreneur and Venture Investor

Adam Callinan is a founder at BottleKeeper, the fast-paced and sarcasm-infused solution to the warm beer and broken bottle epidemics that have plagued the world for centuries. Callinan is also a founding partner at Beachwood Ventures, a Los Angeles-based early-stage and non-traditional venture-capital firm at the intersection of technology and entertainment. As an entrepreneur, Callinan has spent over a decade building small businesses in and around technology, medical devices and consumer products, which most recently includes an exit in 2013. Callinan lives in Manhattan Beach with his wife Katie.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

He Took His Side Hustle Full-Time After Being Laid Off From Meta in 2023 — Now He Earns About $200,000 a Year: 'Sweet, Sweet Irony'

When Scott Goodfriend moved from Los Angeles to New York City, he became "obsessed" with the city's culinary offerings — and saw a business opportunity.

Personal Finance

How to Get a Lifetime of Investing Experience in Only One Year

Plus, how day traders can learn a lesson from pilots.


94% of Customers Say a Bad Review Made Them Avoid Buying From a Brand. Try These 4 Techniques to Protect Your Brand Reputation.

Maintaining a good reputation is key for any business today. With so many people's lives and shopping happening online, what is said about a company on the internet can greatly influence its success.


Save on Business Travel with Matt's Flight's Premium, Only $80 for Life

This premium plan features customized flight deal alerts and one-on-one planning with Matt himself.

Science & Technology

Here's One Reason Urban Transportation Won't Look the Same in a Decade

Micro-EVs may very well be the future of city driving. Here's why, and how investors can get ahead of it.


I Got Over 225,000 Views in Just 3 Months With Short-Form Video — Here's Why It's the New Era of Marketing

Thanks to our new short-form video content strategy, we've amassed over 225,000 video views in just three months. Learn how to increase brand awareness through short-form video content.