Seven Deadly Sins of Selling
By Paul Borgese
Wednesday, May 25, 2005; 11:00am EST
Sales effectiveness research has shown that complete novices in
sales who are taught to use effective systems from the beginning of
their careers often outperform veteran salespeople with years of
We attribute this to the fact that such novices are 'clean slates,'
unburdened by the baggage of years of bad sales habits. In our FEAR
SellingTM Sales Training Bootcamps, we often find that individuals
who have been selling for years must be deprogrammed from their bad
habits and then reprogrammed correctly.
The first objective of effective sales training, therefore, is to
break down your bad sales habits and build your skills back up again
using habits that lead to success, which are built on a firm
foundational understanding of human motivation.
The following are excerpts of the most common fatal flaws in selling
excerpted from our free Executive Report, The 7 Deadly Sins of
Selling, (available at http://www.7SellingSins.com) in which we
explore the negative thinking-patterns and behaviors that cause us
to fail as salespeople. We draw heavily upon concepts in the study
of human behavior, which find their origin in ancient philosophy and
modern psychology and then were rigorously field-tested in order to
make you aware of the Deadly Sins that doom many salespeople.
PRIDE: Assuming Your Way Out of the Sale
There is an old saying that goes: if we have two ears and one mouth,
why is it that we typically talk more than we listen. It is pride '
our egos ' our need to prove to our prospects that we are smart and
worthy of their respect ' that often leads us to losing the sale.
We talk too much and listen too little. We blurt out features and
benefits without first finding out if that information is relevant
to our prospects. Or even worse, we neglect to find out if revealing
such information will actually lessen our chances of winning the
sale. The rule of thumb here is: Never talk your way out of a sale.
The key is to assume less, pitch less, and ask more questions. In
FEAR Selling, we reveal the 18 most powerful questions to ask that
will help you guide your prospect to close themselves and buy now.
SLOTH: Stumbling Due to Systemless Selling
Setting up a system helps salespeople fight against laziness ' also
known as the Deadly Sin of Sloth - and keeps us from drifting into
bad habits that will inhibit our sales performance.
You should be looking to automate your sales process as much as
possible so that you can save yourself time, money and effort. And
we don't just mean automate with computers or other technologies. We
mean that you must work on developing systems ' habits, scripts,
typical questions ' that have proven to be effective in any given
The FEAR Selling System is your shortcut to such systems. It will
help you find what works best for you. But really, it doesn't matter
what system you use, just make sure you are using one and monitoring
the success it brings you. Your main goal as a salesperson is to
find what works as fast as possible and then keep repeating it time
after time to reach extraordinary sales goals.
GLUTTONY: Gorging Your Way To A Loss of Credibility
Building trust and lowering your prospect's resistance to change are
the biggest challenges you will face early on in the sales process.
For any number of reasons which we explore throughout FEAR Selling,
your prospects fear doing business with you ' or any other
Therefore, what you need to do is slowly build trust and rapport
with your prospects. By building trust slowly, you are avoiding the
Deadly Sin of Gluttony. Don't go in trying to win the big deal
without first building credibility.
There is an old saying that in order to eat an elephant you must do
it small bit by small bit. The same applies in sales.
Our research over a six-year period shows that those salespeople who
try to win small pieces of business and then build incrementally end
up with a much greater portion of their customers' share of wallet.
Even more striking is that those that use this strategy manage to
break into many more accounts than those who simply try to go out
and bite off more than their prospects will allow them to chew.
LUST: Sexy But Substanceless Marketing
One top salesperson we work with explained it this way: 'Advertising
agencies and marketing departments are usually made up of highly
creative people. They want to out-do their last campaign with
something flashier. They want sexy rather than solid. Sexy wins
advertising industry awards. But for us salespeople, we'd rather
have solid creative sales strategies that work.'
So while many marketing and advertising executives are seeking the
instant gratification of highly creative, flashy campaigns,
salespeople are looking for substantive strategies that sell.
There is an old saying that goes: sell the sizzle, not the steak.
Based on our research regarding what makes people buy, we must
disagree with this saying ' or at least clarify the definitions of
'sizzle' and 'steak.'
For our purposes here, think of the 'sizzle' as the sexy features of
your product/service and the 'steak' as the solid benefits. If you
are selling features, you are probably going to end up dead in the
water. What you must do is sell benefits that are relevant to the
prospect sitting across the table from you. You can find out what
benefits are relevant by eliciting their fears and hopes through the
FEAR Selling Values Elicitation Process.
ANGER: Losing Sales Because of the Blame Game
Anger often rears its ugly head when reality does not meet one's
Many salespeople, especially early in their careers, are discouraged
' the amount of work it takes to succeed in sales;
' the amount of rejection that one must endure; and
' the many factors that are outside of one's control as a
Although there are many factors that a salesperson cannot control,
one very powerful factor that they have total control over is their
attitude. Combat the damaging effects of the Deadly Sin of Anger by
keeping a realistic yet positive attitude.
GREED: Putting Your Own Needs Before Those of Your Prospect
Greed drives salespeople to:
' rush the prospect to buy instead of taking the time to build
rapport and create trust first;
' sell products/services that do not solve their prospects' and
customers' problems; and,
' at best, make one sale but lose potential future sales by ruining
their reputation with the customer.
To avoid Greed, you must not only become a true trusted advisor to
your clients but also ' and perhaps more importantly ' understand
how to create the perception that you are their trusted advisor.
ENVY: Blindly Following the Masses Instead of Leading Through
The reason why most sales training programs fail is that they are
focused on tactical tools rather than strategic frameworks. Tactics
are essential; however, typically, where most sales courses, books
and tapes fall short is in tying their tactics together into an
overall flexible strategy.
With FEAR Selling, we focus on providing you with a map of the
territory, an understanding of the basics of human motivation, and
the tools for you to adapt your understanding of motivation to any
We cannot tell you exactly what notes to play, but we can give you
the sheet music that you can interpret and play based on what sounds
right for you given your own unique style and what sounds right for
your buyer, given any situation that confronts you. Differentiate
yourself by focusing on the specific needs of your customers.
For more free information on the 7 Deadly Sins of Selling, check out
http://www.7SellingSins.com or http://www.FEARSelling.com.
About the Author
Paul Borgese, President, The FEAR Marketing Group,
phone number 201.533.9282.