Fatal Sales FailuresSales Tips

Fatal Sales Failures–And How to Avoid Them

By September 9, 2011December 20th, 2015One Comment

Proofread Clipboard Checklist Spelling Grammar Accuracy

I am hosting a guest blog theme for the rest of September–and maybe beyond–inviting guest contributors to post writings, podcasts, or videos about major sales mistakes and how they’ve learned to avoid them.  Personal stories, hard lessons learned,  sales training tales, and customer examples will all illustrate the theme.

Confirmed guest bloggers to date include Chris Conrey, Dave Cooke, Gini Dietrich, Margie Traylor, Lori Jones, Chad Root, Gary Hart, Anthony Iannarino, Jill Konrath.  You’ll get new insights from some of your favorite social media sales personalities and probably be introduced to some great talent that you don’t know yet!

I’ll start it off with one of my own occasional Fatal Failures–especially since I’m the one who should never fall victim to this one!

Suppose I’m finishing a proposal, working against deadline, or I’m putting together some information that a client or prospect has requested.  An example, a case, some kind of document.

The fatal failure to which I have been vulnerable is failing to have someone else proofread the document.  I’m a very experienced writer and a great editor of other people’s work.  But nothing is harder than finding your own typos or oversights.  I don’t mean obvious stuff that the MS Word spell and grammar checker would find–I know a lot more about grammar than Word does!  I mean stuff like forgetting to revise the header or footer (change date or topic), accidentally leaving the name of another company somewhere in the document, working on multiple versions of a document and creating the final PDF from an earlier version rather than the last–each more embarrassing than the one before.

There is only one way to permanently avoid this kind of failure:  do not send anything until someone that you trust has proofed it.  You may need a friend with whom you can reciprocate–someone who works all hours like you do.  Or–heaven forbid–leave yourself a little more time.  Have a team member dedicated to proofing all documents that leave your office no matter who created them.

It almost happened yesterday when I was enclosing an illustration within a proposal.  This was a professional piece created by a marketing firm with whom we do business, very beautifully designed and in a “final” finished PDF version suitable for sending digitally.  I’ve been using this piece for a year.  All of a sudden, as I was proofing the entire proposal, I noticed a typo that read “create you Target Filter.”  How many times have we sent that out?  How many times have we unwittingly embarrassed ourselves?  Clearly, we did not have a foolproof “proofing” system in place when this piece was written and designed.

If you absolutely positively have to send or print and deliver something without an external proofreader, at least print it out, move to a comfortable chair away from your computer, and read it slowly and carefully as if for the first time, with a pencil in your hand.  Proofing a printed document is much more likely to be successful than reading on your screen, in the same place where you were putting it together.

Believe me–this kind of error can be fatal.  It’s not always (many people are quite forgiving!) but even if it’s not I feel as if I have let down the customer and diminished The Whale Hunters brand.

I hope you will enjoy this series and visit us daily.  Better yet, subscribe to the blog feed–just click on this icon below and you’re in! Watch for the first guest post in this series early on Monday.


  • Barbara,
    You are right on the money with your thoughts! Because I am involved with online business writing training, I am especially conscious of the importance of sending documents that are free of errors.
    One thing I do when I am sending a proposal or other document to a potential client or an existing client is I leave it for awhile. I then go back and read it again. I also take extra time to slowly read out loud what I’ve written. I find that these strategies help avoid errors when you don’t have someone else to read your document.

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