The Sales Tightrope: Common Errors in Selling

Sales Management
Knowledge Center


Tendekai Dzinamarira
Manager, Zimbabwe

The Sales Tightrope: Common Errors in Selling

🔥NEW The sales process can be likened with walking along a tightrope. Clearly, a tightrope is a metaphor for the selling process.

What is a tightrope?

A tightrope is a thin, tightly stretched rope or wire for acrobats (the professional tightrope walkers) to walk on, in which a slight mistake is likely to have severe consequences (falling off the rope) and it will be very difficult for one to afterwards return back on the tightrope.

Selling is like walking a tightrope

Likewise, a proper selling process has to be followed meticulously in order for one to successfully close the sale. The other way around, we might say that what is needed from the sales rep is not to fall off the tightrope in each of the sales stages by ensuring no common errors are made and all steps are diligently and accurately followed.

The Sales Tightrope: Steps / Stages

There are several sales tightrope steps that if not performed correctly will lead the sales person to "fall off the tightrope" resulting in a missed sale and no revenue. The steps are as follows:
    Coming to a sales meeting unprepared is a deadly mistake. The major mistake which can spoil the client visit is the failure to adequately prepare for the meeting prior to the visiting day. Once one fails to articulate his or her purpose of visit, he or she will fall off the sales tightrope. In order to stay on the sales tightrope, the sales person should go to see a customer well prepared in terms of the agenda, being aware of the client's name and business and even of the approximate customer needs.
    When one comes (too) late to the meeting, he or she is likely to fall off the sales tightrope. The rule of the thumb is that one should never be late to a sales meeting. If there are any challenges or changes which may affect the planned visit, there is a need to keep the client(s) posted right away. This will ensure that trust is maintained.
    Client(s) might not be willing or interested in listening to the sales person's presentation. This could be because the client(s) did not like or did not have time for the sales pitch. It is advisable that a sales person should be vigilant and observant when addressing clients and always watch out for any body language of facial expressions which can give important clues in order to keep walking along the sales tightrope.
    A client might not see the benefits of buying the services or products being offered. This will surely put the sales personnel off the sales tightrope. At this stage one should do a needs analysis and show the benefits and value of the services or products being offered to their prospects.
    Explaining and showing the benefits which the client will derive from buying the products or services. By failing to show the benefits of the product or service the prospect is likely to choose a competitor in the same business or industry.
    Client objections are common when a sales meeting is being held. A client may not see, understand or like the service or product, may not agree with the suggested benefits, or may not like the company being represented by the sales person. This can derail the sales person's grip off the sales tightrope. A good sales person should proactively identify any think of potential objections and solve them instantly in order for him or her to remain on the sales tightrope.
    It's a pity that so many sales persons fall off the sales tightrope at this final stage of closing a sale. In order to keep walking along the sales tightrope, a sales person should not hesitate to ask the client if he agrees to the proposal in order to close the sale. One should not rely on the client to call when the client is ready to buy. Your competitor is likely to be ahead of you.
    Failure to follow up after doing a sales meeting is a dreadful mistake that can affect all the sales efforts done. Follow up is key as it will help to convince the prospective clients to make up their minds and buy the products or services being sold. Maybe your contacts need to ask their manager's permission, or maybe they won't be able to decide till their new fiscal year.
    The final stage in the sales tightrope is the profits or money being realized after going through the whole sales process. Failure to meet the customer needs will result in failure to realize sales and profits which is the ultimate goal in the sales process. Hence in order to keep on the sales tightrope a company and it's sales team should invest in delivering value to their clients and also in product or service improvements in order to keep abreast of the changes in needs, the competition, and the market as this will help them to retain their customers in the long run.
Also have a look at the 7 Steps of the Selling Process.

⇨Let's have some fun. Please share any experiences you had with the sales tightrope. Especially in the cases where you fell off the rope 😃

1) Croft C. (2013), "Negotiation: Buy more cheaply and get better prices when you sell", Instant guides, Chris Croft Training, 1st Edition.
2) Moncrief W.C. et al. (2005), "The evolution of the seven steps of selling", Industrial Marketing Management 34(1) pp. 13-22.


Issaiah Chitakatira
Lecturer, Zimbabwe

Selling Tightrope Experiencs: #6 Objections not Discovered

Thank you for highlighting these pitfalls of selling. Number six is a potent danger. I remember tryi... Sign up

Annalisa Cordoba
Manager, Spain

Experience with the Sales Tightrope: #3 Customers Must Like You

Not really an error in sales, but a related special situation of "They don't like you" is the conseq... Sign up

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

The Cost of Sales Errors

Thanks for sharing this good metaphor for the sales process. The tightrope model helps to understand... Sign up


#1: Didn't Prepare the Sales Call

(Not) Preparing for the sales call includes many things. Beyond the obvious research about the clien... Sign up


More on Sales Management:
Discussion Topics
🥇 Sales versus Marketing
Sales versus Business Development
👀The Sales Tightrope: Common Errors in Selling
🥈 B2B Sales of New Products
🥉 How to Motivate the Sales Force?
Sales Strategies | Selling Strategies
7 Steps of the Selling Process
Key Account Management
5Cs of Sales Management
Involvement of Executives in B2B Sales
Sales Methods, Models and Theories
Virtual Selling Process Due to Internet and Covid
Selling is Transforming a LEAD Into a DEAL
Integrating Sales and Marketing
Approaches for Sales Pipeline Management / Sales Funnel Management
How to Align Sales Strategies with Corporate Revenue Targets?
Metrics for Tracking Sales Performance
Understanding the Buying Process in Major Accounts
Special Interest Group

Do you know a lot about Sales Management? Become our SIG Leader

Sales Management
Knowledge Center

About 12manage | Advertising | Link to us / Cite us | Privacy | Suggestions | Terms of Service
2023 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V16.1 - Last updated: 3-6-2023. All names of their owners.