The Biggest Sales Mistake I Ever Made

Sales is an essential component to any business.  In fact, I would even argue that it is the most important element for a company - if you don’t have sales, you don’t have a business.

For that very reason, many companies spend thousands and thousands of dollars to provide their sales staff with skills they need to increase their productivity.

My Sales Training

Early in my career, I held several sales positions and had extensive training that ranged from assumptive selling to personality-based sales.  As a detailed person, I really soaked up the methodology by studying it and applying as correctly as I could.

Now, I wasn’t a natural sales person, so I never had the highest numbers in the group.  But I did work hard and won several sales contests.

But I wasn’t naturally good at sales.

My Biggest Mistake in Sales

The main reason I wasn’t good at sales was that my detailed personality had a tendency to provide too much information.

This is called an information dump. 

An information dump is a term in selling to describe instances where a customer becomes overwhelmed or confused due to the receipt of vast amount of information that aren’t necessarily key factors in the customer’s decision process.

Identifying the Information Dump

Over the years, I have become able to understand challenges an information dump brings in the decision making process.

Don’t misunderstand me - I am not advocating mis-disclosure or deceptive practices. 

What I am saying is that in the decision making process we all have a few major considerations we need answers for.  These are our high priority considerations which generally outweigh all of the lower-priority considerations.

A Classic Sales Mistake

For example, if you were to buy a new car, what would your major considerations be? Most likely your considerations would include things like price, monthly payments, safety ratings, color, handling, or a few convince features like tinted windows or a sunroof.  

And it is very likely that you would only require a few of these considerations to be met, being willing to sacrifice on a couple (like color or even price) to get most of them.

But what if the sales person started talking to you about features you weren’t concerned about?  What if he told you the middle rear seat only had a lap belt that wasn’t as safe as a shoulder belt, or the trunk could only hold two suitcases instead of three?   What the salesperson has now done is to raise the priority of lower-priority considerations so that the number of high priority considerations has been increased.

Add in a few more “over disclosures” and the number of high priority considerations has become too high to ever be satisfied.

The customer will become overwhelmed and leave.  And it should be no surprise to you when they say they bought a vehicle at a competitor who had what they were looking for.  Of course the car wasn’t any better than what you were offering, but it met their list of high-priority considerations, which was ultimately a lower list than the list you had provided.

How to Avoid The Information Dump

The best way to avoid the information dump is to listen to the customer.  In understanding what their high-priority considerations are, you will be able to satisfy the majority of those considerations and make the sale. 

Sure the trunk and backseat are inferior, but those considerations don’t need to be elevated to the level of high-priority.

My biggest challenge in learning this concept was to understand that my high-priority concerns were not the same as my customer.  In fact, I have found that most people are not as detailed (or anal) as me.

Therefore, when I tried to sell someone with an information dump, I found that a literally paralyzed them in their decision making process.  And that was the biggest sales mistake I made early in my career.

Have you ever been guilty of the information dump when selling?