Selling is more art than science. No matter the product, service, industry, skill level or personality, each salesperson is going to make avoidable mistakes. It is inevitable.
There are ways to mitigate or minimize mistakes by understanding what the most common ones are and avoiding them from the start.
1. Being Unprepared. This is the most common mistake of all. It’s going into the call, creating the email or to the phones without having done adequate preparation—knowing the details of what you’re selling, knowing how to answer the most common questions and not knowing how to neutralize the competition. Be prepared to effectively sell by having done your homework before you send the email, open the door or pick up the phone.
2. Not Knowing Your Customer. With the wealth of available information there really is no excuse for not knowing something about the prospect or customer you are going to deal with. Do some research before the sales call and understand their issues, culture, values, likes, dislikes, interests and how they do business. Know your audience and watch your success ratio soar.
3. Not Listening. Not listening is the killer to sales success. Sure, it is easy to hear the surface issues. But, how good are you at hearing the issues or question behind the discussion? How well do you probe for understanding as you discuss their needs and your solutions? All too often salespeople will start selling (talking) on surface issues and never address underlying problems. Listen to your prospects/customers. They will tell you what you can do for them. Sell to that!
4. Selling too Soon. People buy from people. Relationship is critical. Instead of viewing the other person as a transaction, take a look at how there can be a long-term relationship that can endure deal after deal. Don’t rush the sale and try to close before it is possible. Doing so destroys credibility and closes opportunity. Instead, take time to educate your prospect/customer and to get to know them. You will close more easily and for higher dollar amounts.
5. Overselling. This is in two dimensions: 1. Never oversell the capability of your product or service; and, 2. Know when to shut up. In the first, never be so eager to close a deal that you end up selling something that your company can’t deliver. In the second, let your customer have time to reflect and decide rather than reacting to being pushy or overbearing.
6. Wandering. As key as relationship is, so is the salesperson managing the sales call and selling process. Avoid being overly chatty on those things which are unimportant to the decision or next step in the selling process. While getting to know the customer is important, closing the sale is more important. Don’t wander off topic—selling the customer on your products and/or services that meet their stated needs or requirements.
7. Not Closing. The second most common mistake is not asking for the order. The prospect/customer expects you to ask. After all, you’re the salesperson and they know it. Many customers won’t make a purchase decision until they are asked. If you don’t ask rest assured the competition will. After you’ve presented the appropriate information and overcome objections, ask for the order every time. Don’t wait for the customer to make the decision.
8. Making Assumptions. Salespeople often miss solid, profitable opportunity because they bring assumptions into a selling situation. Assumptions about the customer’s business, their ability to pay, the prospect’s background or ethnicity or appearance and even assuming that the salesperson’s products ‘”aren’t a good fit” for the prospect/customer. Go into every sales call with your eyes wide open, looking for opportunity—not pre-judging or assuming things that aren’t there.
9. Failing to Prospect. Successful salespeople never stop prospecting. Even when sales are at their peak they continue to prospect for new opportunity and customers. Don’t let yourself become distracted by success and forget to keep the qualified pipeline full. A constant inflow of new opportunity is critical for you and your company’s survival. Keep prospecting and see greater results than ever before.
10. Not Following Up. Like overselling, this has two dimensions: 1. Not following up on leads; and, 2. Not following up on prospect/customer inquiry. In the first dimension, don’t assume that a prospect won’t be interested in your product/service at some time in the future. Just because they said no now does not mean they will say no later. In the second, make sure that you quickly, accurately, and completely follow-up on all inquiries from prospects or customers. Never leave prospects/customers waiting. They may tire of waiting and call your competitor.
Accelerate your sales success. Avoid these common mistakes and sell more than you though possible.
The Afterburner Group has been accelerating and improving sales efforts for companies in the technology, energy, services, manufacturing and non-profit industries for over 25 years.
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