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10 flubs every leader can avoid

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These common slips-ups were formulated for salespeople, but they apply equally well to CEOs and other executives:

1. Not seeing the world through your customers’ eyes. That’s most of the game right there.

2. Making money your top priority. You don’t have to be Mother Teresa, but at least you need a goal beyond the gold. How about wanting to be known as the best?

3. Thinking your gig is just your livelihood. Aside from wanting to be the best, you can frame your work as undertaking a mission on behalf of your customers.

4. Getting mad. Or frustrated. Or whatever. Top dogs keep their cool, and the best of the best walk around happy.

5. Walking in unprepared. There’s no excuse for this because being surprised means you haven’t done your homework. You can pretty much predict what a prospect or client will say: Prove it will work. Guarantee it. Fix it. Cut the price. Make it better.

6. Overpreparing. Needing to lean on a script will make you seem dull and leaden. You need to have every scenario in mind but not every word. Improvisation is a beautiful thing.

7. Pegging customers as adults. We’re actually all still teenagers who want products that are either exciting or warm and fuzzy. Example: the Mini Cooper, which, remarkably, is both fast and cute.

8. Coming off as a phony. Even great actors connect to their honest, true feelings. Snobbery won’t work. Faking it won’t work.

9. Forgetting that we’re reptilian at core. The brain stem is all about survival and reproduction, without all that emotional and cerebral stuff on the tops of our brains.

10. Neglecting your peeps. Even if your employees and customers haven’t been in your orbit lately, do something they’ll appreciate.

— Adapted from “Sales Slip-Ups,” G. Clotaire Rapaille as told to Paul Keegan, Fortune. 

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