Marketing Q & A
Marketing Q&A
By Al Jabaly

Al Jabaly is a certified marketing and business consultant with over 20 years of small business experience. Email your questions to All questions will be answered via e-mail. Some of the most interesting questions will be posted in this weekly column. For further information, Al can be reached at 1-888-899-3190


Every professional makes mistakes: doctors, accountants, etc. and sales people are no different. The most important point is to recognize your mistakes, learn from them and avoid repeating them on your next calls! Sales mistakes usually result from a salesperson’s habits and usually they are not noticeable by the salesperson but are clearly noticed by the customer and that may adversely affect the outcome of the sales effort. The main mistakes are:

1) ACTING DESPERATE! Customers will clearly notice when you are begging for appointments, orders, etc. and they will start wondering if what you are offering is of value. They will start negotiating with you from a point of strength, knowing you desperately need the sale and will give away the store to get it.

2) PREQUALIFYING PROSPECTS! Don’t pre-qualify prospects just because you think they may not have the money or meet any other criteria you set. I once met a shabby looking prospect that I had thought would not have a nickel to his name but was very surprised to notice that he had a late Mercedes parked in the back! He asked if he could pay with cash. Otherwise, if I insisted on being paid with a check, then I would have had to come back when his accountant returned the next day. I said he could and he pulled out a roll of cash from their pocket and paid me!

3) DISAPPEARING AFTER THE SALE! This will make the client think that you just took his money and ran! Immediately after the contract is signed, linger around outside the business next to your car, use your cell phone to call your voice mail, office, spouse, etc. When you go back to your office, send the customer an email, thank him for the sale and ask for referrals, etc. If you promised him to do something, do it right away. Do not let him remind you of it.

4) GUESSING! If a customer asks you a question that you are unable to answer, do not guess. Admit that you do not know the answer and then pick up the phone and call your boss or the technical manager and find out the answer.

5) TALKING TOO MUCH! You can talk about the product or service, or even about minor subjects not related to the business at hand. But do not be a chatterbox. Prospects time is valuable to them and they definitely do not want to hear all the minute details about your family vacation.

6) BADMOUTHING THE COMPETITION! There is a cardinal rule in sales: do not badmouth the competition! You can draw comparisons and explain why your product or company is superior but do not talk bad about them. If you have another customer that switched from Company X to yours because of your superior product and service, tell your prospect, and offer the name and number of your customer as proof. But do not relay gossip and innuendo. You will lose the respect of your customer and very probably the sale you are trying hard to gain.

7) OVERPROMISING! Another cardinal rule in sales is NOT to over-promise. This will come back to haunt you and you will lose your credibility with your customer. If you can ship in 5 days, tell the customer “within a week”. The customer will be pleasantly surprised to receive it earlier than the date you had promised him!

8) DON’T BE A KNOW IT ALL! You may be the expert on your product but the customers are the experts on their business! So do not try to tell them how to run it. If you want to point something that your product will do to improve their business, explain it without putting them down their current practices!

9) DON’T FLASH YOUR ASSETS! If you own a Rolex watch, keep it home and wear a Timex. If you drive a BMW, park it far from the business. If you live in the most exclusive or expensive part of town, don’t mention it. Most likely your customer will have none of the above and will feel “inferior” to you and be turned off by you.

10) YOU NEED THE CUSTOMER. HE DOES NOT NEED YOU! Act in a modest and humble way in the presence of the prospect. Be respectful. And finally be a very good listener. Do these things and the customer will even like you. Customers buy from people they like and trust. Remember this and you will go a long way in sales!