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The 7 deadly sins of sales

written by Steven Franklin

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Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride, these aren’t just things you’ll recognize in a nightclub in any city in the early hours of a Saturday morning but they’re also known as the 7 deadly sins.

The 7 deadly sins are thought to originate from Evagrius Ponticus. For those who aren’t experts on fourth century theology, Evagrius was a Christian monk who identified eight temptations of men that one needed to overcome to have a strong soul.

In the 6th century Pope Gregory combined two of these temptations (avarice and sorrow became sloth if you really must know) to become the streamlined 7 deadly sins we know today.

What has this got to do with sales, I hear you ask? Well guarding against each of these 7 deadly sins when attempting to make a sale is vital and below I will tell you why.



Every salesperson lusts after the biggest sales and craves the largest accounts. However, sometimes this lust can act against us. Occasionally we can spend too long trying to catch a big fish when we could have spent less time and effort netting several smaller ones with the same overall value.

Small accounts can get bigger too, and big accounts can get smaller. The Pareto principle (80/20 rule) states that 80% of your sales income will come from the top 20% of your customers. This isn’t always a good thing. If something goes wrong leading to the loss of one of your big accounts this can leave a huge hole in your company’s income. Therefore, it’s worth focusing on the little guys too as you’ll never know when they will grow and their sales will increase and they can also prop you up when times are hard.



Every salesperson would like to make as many sales as possible but it’s important not to overindulge and spread your wings too wide.

It’s important for a salesperson and a business to concentrate on what they’re good at, not to dilute the message by focusing on the wrong things that take you away from your company’s goal.

If a prospect isn’t the right fit then you have to know when to move on. If a prospect wants a lot of bolt-ons or something that is bespoke or far removed from what you do as standard then sometimes it isn’t worth the time and effort of trying to convert them. You don’t want to spread yourself too thinly by overindulging and having a clogged sales pipeline, instead you should focus on the prospects that are the best fit for your business.



When you’re desperate for a sale it’s easy to get greedy and rush through a potential order by promising a customer the world to get them ‘over the line’ but only a fool would look at each sale as a one off ‘kill’, looking at getting the sale and moving on.

Every sale should be thought of as the start of a blossoming relationship, with the long game in mind. It’s long been known that it’s easier to gain repeat business or cross sell with an existing customer then it is to get a new one, so to start off a sale with a lie through greed to get a sale over the line will lead to mistrust and resentment of the company leading to a far lower chance of a repeat sale or a referral.

Building a strong relationship with a customer could also lead to them potentially recommending you to another business or friend, and as research from Nielsen states, ‘people are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.’  Potentially leading to you getting a warm sale opportunity further down the line.



Being lazy is contagious. Think about how hard is it to motivate yourself to exercise when your gym buddy pulls out to eat 20 chicken wings rather than do 20 pull ups. Think also about when you see someone yawn, it makes you want to yawn too.

Therefore, if you give the impression of slothliness or the impression that you can’t be bothered, then this is going to pass on to your potential customer that you’re talking to.

Sometimes we might not even realize we’re being lazy, we’re just comfortable slouched in our seat, talking slowly.

My advice is to stand up when making an important call, change the pitch of your voice, stress key words. It’s natural human behavior to subconsciously mimic each other’s actions so being energetic about the product or service you’re trying to sell is more likely to lead to your customer being more interested and excited about what you have to say too.



There is no worse feeling in sales than when a nailed on potential sale falls through. If you’ve been rejected in an explosive way then it’s hard for passion not to overflow in to anger, you can feel you have wasted your time, been messed about, someone could’ve even been plain rude to you.

Don’t be rude back, keep your poker face on, say it’s a shame but don’t act like it’s the end of the world, as this could look desperate and this is never a good look.

Remember too, that no doesn’t mean no forever and your prospect might change their mind a week down the line, maybe even in years to come. If you keep your cool when they said no, leave the door open and part on good terms then they’re far more likely to come back.



The sales place is a competitive environment and that competitiveness is important as we’re all driven by a need of some sort, this could be a need to be successful or a need to be the best, self-drive is vital.

So, when you see your colleague consistently doing better or hitting targets above yours it can be hard not to be envious, hell, it can be nigh on impossible!

Don’t let envy consume you, instead it’s important to use it as fuel to improve, maybe you could look at what they’re doing well and look to learn off them instead. A healthy rivalry can lead to you both bettering yourself and smashing your goals.

Formula One is a good example of this, when you think of James Hunt and Niki Lauda in the 1970s and Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the modern day, they have often spoken about the respect they have for each other even though they‘re rivals in direct competition, they use their rivalry to spur them on to be the best.



So, you’ve got your envy under control, learnt off your colleague and now that colleague of yours who used to be the best, you just beat them and now you’re number one. So, you’ve made it, why try harder?

In sport, it is often said that the hardest challenge isn’t getting to the top but staying there, once you’re at the top of the mountain, you’re there to be shot at and if you don’t work just as hard you will certainly be knocked off soon enough.

So, if you’ve just made the biggest the sale of your career, the question should be where’s the next one coming from? You may have had one great month but if this is followed by two bad months then you can guarantee that good month will already have been forgotten about.

Remember the wise proverb, pride comes before a fall. Reward yourself for a good sale but don’t stop working just as hard, in fact work harder, to get the next one.


I hope this article has been interesting, personally, I would argue that these 7 deadly sins are only deadly when not in balance, a successful sales person, in my opinion, needs a bit of lust to want the big accounts but not to such a degree it becomes gluttony, competitive edge is key also so it’s natural to be a bit envious of that colleague or rival business with the top accounts in your industry but not so much that it turns into wrath or anger.

As the great Yoda himself said ‘anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering’ which eventually leads to the dark side.  Make sure the 7 deadly sales sins don’t turn you to the dark side!

Now you've got the 7 deadly sins nailed down, here are 19 sales tips you should follow to help you succeed in sales

Written By -

I am a Marketing Executive at sales-i and have been since September 2016. Prior to this I worked in the b2b service industry for 6 years and had roles in Marketing, Sales and Account Management during this time. I Enjoyed it, learnt a lot but missed focusing solely on the marketing side, I missed the feeling of writing a good blog, the excitement of sending out a good emailer and the thrill of opening up google analytics . I'm sad I know.

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