Does the following story sound all too familiar?

You spend countless hours in research, pre-call planning and strategy sessions getting ready to call on a new, high-potential prospect otherwise known as the “big one”. You know that this sale could make your month, your quarter, or even your year.

As you prepare for your first face-to-face meeting, you leave nothing to chance as you invite an army of resources to join you. You bring along the big guns, the powerhouses, the technical gurus, and the just-in-case brigade. The initial meeting with their senior team actually goes pretty well. They are engaged, the CEO asks the right questions, and all the department head enthusiastically want to know more.

Your sales presentation is stellar, the demo goes off without a hitch and the meeting concludes with the prospect very impressed with you, your solutions, your company and particularly your promise to meet their request for a proposal by the end of the week.

Once back at the office, you and your team mates drop all other projects and universally blasts the “All hands on deck!” alarm in order to meet the rigorous demands of that requested proposal.

The day arrives and, marching in unison and wearing their finest dress blues, the sales team perfectly presents a flawless final presentation. You proudly deliver the proposal into the welcoming hands of the new prospect who puts it down only long enough to “applaud and accolade” you for a job well done and walks you to the lobby with handshakes and promises of a “cursory signature” ceremony that will assuredly take place at the board meeting next week.

The next week comes and goes but you don’t hear from your prospect. Then halfway through the week after that, you figure it’s time for that courtesy call. You know the one: “Hi, how’s it going? Just wanted to check in and see how that ‘cursory signature’ ceremony went at the board meeting” call.

The prospect’s reply – if you even get through now – can include any response with the exception of “Why, yes! I’m so glad you called. Everything is agreed to and signed and we’d like you to get started right away.”

And so it goes. All that time, all that effort, all those working weekends, all the money spent, all those meetings – eaten up in the proverbial black hole. Why did the prospect’s enthusiasm, responsiveness, sense of urgency and desire to move ahead go poof? Now they need to – circle one here – reorganize, resize, rethink, redo, re-plan, re-budget, redirect, renege, rebound, recover – anything but remunerate you!

What happened! How did things go from so right to so wrong so quickly? Was it something you said? Something you didn’t say? Something you did or didn’t do? Chances are you hit one of the land mines that can kill a sale. Those hidden traps, even when unconsciously stepped on, simply end in disaster.

Just what exactly are those traps? Let me share with you the 10 ways to kill a sale:

  1. Prospect aimlessly…Grab anyone who will listen and give them the same sales pitch over and over and over again.
  2. Be oblivious to the prospect’s buying rhythm…Just jump in and sell!
  3. Lead with as many features as possible…Something’s bound to stick
  4. Sell as low in the organization as possible…Never bother the decision makers.
  5. Try to sell something to someone who can’t buy.
  6. Make sure that your demos cover every aspect of every feature – or at least until your audience falls asleep.
  7. Badmouth the competition.
  8. Miss deadlines/Break promises.
  9. Discount your price early and often.
  10. Never differentiate your self from your competition…After all, we’re all the same, aren’t we?

Naturally, the best salespeople do the exact opposite of the previous ten bullets!

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