Even though I have been teaching sales people how to improve their sales effectiveness for over 15 years, I still make mistakes in the sales process from time-to-time. Here are some of the blunders I have made that have resulted in lost sales. I hope you can learn from my mistakes.
1. Allowing a prospect to lead the sales process. The best way to control the sales interaction is to ask questions. This is also the best way of learning whether or not your product or service meets the needs of your prospect. Quality questions that uncover specific issues, problems, or corporate objectives are essential in helping you establish yourself as an expert.
2. Not completing pre-meeting research. After several weeks of voice mail I finally connected with my prospect and scheduled a meeting. Unfortunately, I entered the meeting without first researching the company. Instead of presenting a solution to an existing problem, I spent the entire meeting learning fundamental information, which to senior executives, is a complete waste of their time. This approach is one of most common mistakes.
Too many sales people make cold calls without first exploring the prospect's website. Invest a small amount of time learning about your prospect BEFORE you call them.
3. Talking too much. Too many sales people think that 'telling is selling' when the reverse is actually true. People don't care how much you know about your product and they are seldom interested in learning everything about your product. Instead, they want a solution to a problem. I firmly believe that sales people should let their customers and prospects do at least 70 percent of the talking in a meeting.
A friend of mine is in the advertising business and often talks to prospects who initially request a quote for a specific advertising job. Instead of talking at great length about the ad agency's experience and qualifications, he gets the potential client talking about her business. By doing this he is able to determine the most effective strategy for that prospect.
4. Giving the prospect irrelevant information. The majority of sales presentations I have been subjected to have focused too much on the seller's agenda instead of demonstrating how the product or service could help solve an immediate problem. Don't waste your prospect's valuable time by talking about the awards you have won, the companies you work with, or how long you have been in business. They simply don't care.
5. Not being prepared. I remember calling a prospect expecting to receive his voice mail. That meant I was completely unprepared when he answered the call himself. Instead of asking him a series of qualifying questions I simply responded to his questions, allowing him to control the sale. Unfortunately, I didn't progress any further than that initial call.
When you make a cold call or attend a meeting with a prospect it is critical that you are prepared. This means having all relevant information at your fingertips including; pricing, testimonials, samples, and a list of questions you need to ask. I suggest creating a checklist of the vital information you will need and reviewing this list before you make your call. You have exactly one opportunity to make a great first impression and you will not make it if you are not prepared.
6. Neglecting to ask for the sale. I once had a participant in one of my workshops express interest in my book. I told him to look through it but at no time did I ask for the sale. Later, I heard him express this observation to other participants in the program. If you sell a product or service, you have the obligation to ask the customer for a commitment, particularly if you have invested time assessing their needs and know that your product or service will solve a problem. Many people are concerned with coming across as pushy but as long as you ask for the sale in a non-threatening, confident manner, people will usually respond favorably.
7. Failing to consistently prospect. This is one of the most common mistakes sales people make. When business is good many people stop prospecting, thinking that the flow of business will continue. However, the most successful sales people prospect all the time. They schedule prospecting time in their agenda every week. This strategy prevents the peaks and valleys that other sales people frequently experience.
With a bit of focus and discpline, you can avoid these common sales blunders, improve your results and make more money.
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Kelley Robertson, author of The Secrets of Power Selling helps sales professionals close more sales at higher profits. Kelley conducts workshops and speaks regularly at sales meetings and conferences. Contact him at 905-633-7750 or mailto:Kelley@Fearless-Selling.ca .