The number is essentially unimportant. Canada could have focused on seven (out of respect to Covey) or on 14 or on 34 "sales traps." In fact, there are hundreds of incorrect or inappropriate actions and strategies undertaken by salespeople or a sales organization because of incomplete or false information, illogical thinking, "tradition," poor decision-making, and/or not knowing what they don't know. Canada brought to the writing of this book a wealth of real-world experience in sales and sales training. He also drew upon extensive published research (e.g. a sales research project sponsored by Xerox) as well as studies conducted by the Dartmouth Group, Ltd. and the Institute for Global Sales Studies. In the Introduction, Canada asserts that "It is not what sales and marketing people don't know that is most likely to significantly hurt their performance; it is what they think they know that turns out to be a partial truth, a fallacy, or a mistaken belief that affects their results more."
According to Canada, the most successful salespeople, sales teams, and sales organizations are guided and informed by six principles: Focus outside, get the most out of the best people, train effectively, create value, offer feedback and create opportunities for learning, and use the Internet and databases effectively. He illustrates each of these six by identifying and then examining 24 different sales traps, each of which violates one or more of the principles. He then explains how to avoid them. For example:
Sales Trap #6: Either Sales People Have It or They Don't
Action Points: Be patient, Give constructive feedback, and give consistent feedback that doesn't exclude anyone.
Sales Truth #6: Sales people are developed [in italics], not born [also in italics]
Canada uses this same format for the other sales traps, devoting a separate chapter to each of the 24. He provides brief annotations with each Action Point throughout the book and also inserts observations, suggestions, and examples so as to create a context for each combination of Sales Trap/Action Points/Sales Truth. He concludes with an Epilogue in which he shares his thoughts about the next generation of performance change programs, suggesting that there are two unique points that should be carefully considered when devising a program by which to move sales performance and sales results to the next level. First, performance change programs must incorporate a customer survey that is customized for the program, and performance change programs should also examine the success factors from the customer's perspective." Although Canada does not italicize the last four words, I would. "Second, the program must incorporate into each case study the 'best practices' of your top salespeople. In other words, we must leverage the insights of an organization's best people in order to help others within the company." I could not agree more, presuming to add that the aforementioned "best practices" would also be of substantial to those not directly involved in sales (e.g. receptionists, telephone operators, CSRs, accounting) who also have direct and frequent contact with customers.
After reviewing the 24, many readers will probably have a few sales traps to add to the list. Perhaps if enough readers share them with Canada (he is a member of the marketing faculty at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University), he will accumulate enough new material for another book. My own rather extensive experience in sales and sales training suggests these troublemakers:
MISTAKE A: Negotiating Against Yourself (i.e. assuming what a customer can and cannot afford)
TRUTH A: Let the customer say "No."
MISTAKE B: Constantly "Cultivate" Customers
TRUTH B: Contact a customer only when there is a legitimate reason to do so.
MISTAKE C: Ask Lots of Questions
TRUTH C: Do your homework. Lots of it. Request only the answers you cannot be expected to know already.
MISTAKE D: Closing Skills Are Most Important
TRUTH D: More often than not, so-called "closing skills" work best when used to pre-qualify a prospect.
Although this book will be of great value to relatively inexperienced salespeople, especially to those without the safety nets and air cover of an established sales organization, I also think it will be of substantial value to sales managers and to peak performers who can so easily become entrapped by what Jim O'Toole refers to as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." Probably the worst sales trap of all is to continue to think and sell the same way, day after day, and then expect better results. Even the most experienced of salespeople should constantly be challenging their own assumptions, premises, etc. about sales...but seldom do. Canada's book can guide and inform such a re-evaluation.
Especially for organizations with limited resources and a small sales force, Canada's book can serve as the basis of an especially effective sales training program. Larger organizations can also use it as the focal point of a workshop. Obviously, those who understand what the 24 sales traps are and why they are so dangerous are most likely to avoid them.
on July 14, 2009
In golf knowing where the sand traps are helps to get to the pin a lot sooner and with few strokes. However sometimes the ball or in the case of sales, your pitch ends up in a trap.
Dick Canada in his book The 24 Sales Traps and How to Avoid Them has taken the time to identify common traps and provides 24 sales truth to accompany each trap. An added bonus is the Notes (Bibliography) where some good research is shared.
Consistent selling understands obstacle identification is necessary for sales success as noted in this other book be The Red Jacket in a sea of gray suits as well.
If you are having some sales challenges, then The 24 Sales Trap is a must read because many of the traps Canada lists are directly tied to your beliefs about marketing and selling.