While I work with many great sales professionals, I meet a lot of sales people who must find selling very frustrating. Making mistakes like these is why they find themselves missing sales goals and gritting their teeth.
1. They come to their sales calls unprepared.
Why do some people think selling is a random event? It’s not. Selling is the result of preparation where you learn enough about your prospect so you can have an intelligent business conversation about why there is a need to buy what you have to sell. Before the call know as much about your customer as you can. Winging it is not a sales skill.
2. They talk about their product too soon.
Talking about your products before you understand the needs or problems your customer has is like shooting at a target with your eyes closed and not knowing where the target is. Good luck hitting the bulls eye. When you ask the questions that help the customer understand there is a need, it’s huge and your products are the best ones to meet the need, you’ll have customers wanting to buy. Selling is much easier.
3. They have no Plan B.
So what if you do plan for the best? What if things go very differently than you plan? There are better times to plan your strategy than when you are stumped and sitting face-to-face with your customer. Develop a contingency plan for the sales conversation with other possible directions to take it before the sales call.
4. They go away with nothing.
This is a subset of Number 1, the lack of preparation. For each sales call you should determine what your call objective is. That’s the maximum you want. Before the sales call determine what the customer needs to do or say to make that happen. Then think of the minimum you’ll take. If selling is the process of moving closer to a customer’s buying decision, each sales call should take you closer to that buying decision. We don’t always get the maximum. At least with a minimum we’ll get something.
5. They have no clue how they’re doing.
Most salespeople will say every sales call went well– even the ones where the customer nodded faintly and said “I’ll think about it.” Take someone with you on a sales call who can sell and who you respect. They’ll critique you honestly.
6. They miss using the full potential of their resource.
Think about the technology you use. How many of you are really using all the tools your database software provides? I know many salespeople who think ACT! is a way to alphabetize their Rolodex. It can be used to send mass mailings, determine sales cycle activity, and much, much more.
7. They think they know it all.
They never read anything and that includes even the newspaper. How you going to know what is impacting your business if you don’t know what’s going on in the world? If you want to improve, you have to keep learning. Read books. Read magazines. Just plain read.
8. They lack a long term focus.
They think they have to sell something now no matter what. Learn to walk away from the prospects that just aren’t a good fit. You’ll thank yourself later. Bad customer fit means customer dissatisfaction. Dissatisfied customer talk and you don’t want prospects hearing the negative things about your products, your services, or you.
9. They prioritize poorly.
This means they do work that has little payout and most of the time they have no clue that they’re wasting their time. Spending time with customers who have little or no probability of buying now or in the foreseeable future is one example of poor prioritizing. With every task you do you should be able to answer, ‘What will this accomplish? How will it increase my business? Why does it need to be done now?
10. They think selling stops when the customer buys.
Selling is a service business and it continues with more work after the sale. It’s made more difficult as we sometimes get to fix problems that others may have created (even our customers!) Why is it that customers need help at the worst possible times? Emergencies come up even when we’ve done everything we could to avoid them for our customers. Thinking problems will go away is a mistake. Thinking someone else should fix them is a bigger mistake.
Bonus: They think it’s easy. Selling is the greatest job in the world. It’s also one of the hardest. If you think it’s easy, you’re not in sales!