Sales reps should avoid talking too much and listening too little. Using close-ended questions, which tend to kill a conversation with a yes or no answer instead of open-ended questions that extend a conversation because they cannot be easily answered with a yes or no.
Sales reps should avoid not getting people to commit to a yes or no decision rather than a perhaps or a maybe. Get rid of the prospects that keep dragging their feet. Simply ask, "Is there still an interest in [your product or service]? If yes, what's the next step?" The sooner you know the quicker you can invest your time in those prospects who have an interest and are willing to take action or "move forward".
Sales reps should avoid forgetting to ask permission to speak or lack respect for the other person's time. An executive's time is one of their most limited and valuable assets. If it is not respected you will quickly find yourself disconnected. Would you want to speak with someone if you were in the middle of an important meeting? No. So remember a little common courtesy goes a long way. ALWAYS ask permission to speak. I happen to like "Is this a good time to speak?" or "Do you have a moment?"
Sales reps should avoid asking too many questions in a row. Too many questions in a row are frustrating because the prospect doesn't know which question to answer first and the conversation becomes confusing real fast. Remember one question at a time, then STOP! You'll have plenty of time to ask more questions and the prospect won't be defensive since they are unable to answer multiple questions at once.
Sales reps should avoid talking over other the prospect's answer to a question or interrupting while the prospect is speaking. Since most if not all of us like to hear ourselves speak, it takes tremendous discipline to remain silent until someone has finished what they have to say. What if the part of the answer that you spoke over was a crucial piece of information? You'll never know, will you?
Sales reps should avoid calling on the wrong people who have no authority to buy. Many reps would rather spend their limited selling time calling upon lower level people who, while they maybe good sources of information, lack the authority to buy. These people can stymie the sales process by saying don't go above me and don't go below me. I am the only person you need to speak with. What happens then? You become in the "let's talk some more and more or show me more and more" position. This type of scenario will drag your sales process to a halt.
Sales reps should avoid speaking too fast, too slow, in a monotone or without enthusiasm or conviction. People buy from people they know, like and trust and trust means similar to them. Learn to match and mirror the rate of speed, tone and the volume of the prospect's voice. Listening to a person's voice mail often provides a clue as to what type of speaker they are. If they speak fast, speed up. If they speak slowly, then slow done. The same applies to louder and softer. As for tone, learn to move your voice up and down and enunciate clearly.
Sales reps should avoid pitching. Pitching is for baseball games not selling. Pitching implies something will be caught yet not necessarily the "right thing or solution". A good salesperson never needs to pitch since by asking the right questions and listening they know what the prospect wants resented to them and the close becomes a natural conclusion.
Sales reps should avoid leaving their phone number only once and speaking too fast when they leave a voice mail. This means the prospect has to play the message over and over again when it is much easy to just erase it. Make it easy for people to do business with you. SLOW DOWN when you leave a message and leave your phone number twice in a row. The first time you leave your number gives the prospect time to find a pen and the second gives them time to write down the number.
Sales reps should avoid forgetting to make eye contact. In Nicholas Boothman's book, How to Connect in Business in 90 Seconds (Workman Publishing $16.95) he claims people make "like/don't like" decisions within the first 90 seconds of meeting someone. This means you must be able to win someone over fast. For you field reps it is a known fact that looking people directly in the eyes establishes you as trustworthy and open. Practice making a mental note of each person's eye color and you'll automatically look each person you meet right in the eye.
Sales reps should avoid making selling too complicated. Often it is better to be reminded and return to the basics above rather than to continue behavior, which should be avoided, if you want to be successful in sales.