Updated: Aug 30, 2019
There are a countless number of sales mistakes, including presentation errors, relying on statistics and over analyzing, not to mention NOT closing during a free trial period. (that's blasphemous!)
This article looks at the softer side of sales.
In no particular order, let’s begin!
1. Not being prepared (affects credibility)
The sales process begins way before you think about picking up the phone or pitching; and not being prepared is vital and is immediately the greatest downfall that blatantly shows.
Don’t get caught out at a social event when someone asks you ‘What is it that you do?’ - First impressions count
Fix: Learn your pitch and make sure that you are prepared to give your pitch/response wherever and whenever. Be prepared to answer “What it is that you do for your clients?” and NOT “what do you sell or what is your job etc?”
2. Talking too much
I have interviewed and spoken to numerous sales professionals who do not know when to ‘shut up’. Over-talking (not to be confused with over-communicating) is a definite “No No” for any sales professional. Some people try to joke with their client or a prospect, this can and sometimes causes offence, especially when you cannot see them down the other end of the phone.
Chances are that you had the sale grasped tightly in your hand until, yes, that moment, when that extra word just crumbled the whole pitch; yet you kept on talking – talking your way out of a sale!
In another setting you could have met some genuinely nice people at a social event, yet the more they spoke, the more you realise that you are no longer attracted to them. "Epic falls covert into epic failures."
Fix: Build the rapport, keep it relevant and learn when to…. shut up!
3. Being casual
Regardless of how a lead or prospect speaks; one cannot become too comfortable in a conversation to allow it to become unprofessional. How a prospect speaks should not impact the way you respond. There’s a saying “it’s never a done deal until the client signs on the dotted line” and this is true in most cases.
Fix: Always, #keepItProfessional. Personally, I don’t recommend drinking alcohol during a business lunch and stick to a maximum of only 2 drinks during a meet after hours. Watch your language and choice of topic.
4. Devaluing your product
As sales professionals we set a price and we probably have a figure that we will not go below – that’s our bottom line. If a prospect continues to push and devalues your offering where is the value that you hold? It begins to depreciate until it is gone; and you are no longer different to your competitors.
Fix: Stay in control and stand your ground. Re-inforce the value you bring to the table. Don’t let the client dictate the price unless there is something in it for you. "Don’t be the cheapest, be the best!"
5. Not being enthusiastic enough
A simple rule of thumb is that if you are not enthusiastic about your offering, why should a prospect be? Sales is about attitude and if you don’t feel it, don’t try it. You will end up doing more harm than good including damaging your brand and your personal reputation.
Fix: Get up from the desk and go for a walk. Grab a coffee or get some other caffeine fix before even attempting a sale or call and get in the right frame of mind. "Do you have what it takes?"
6. Not qualifying & being strung along
During the initial stage of the sales process it is imperative to identify and qualify the relevant person to be speaking to. Just because someone may have the relevant title, this does not necessarily mean that they have the authority to make a decision.
I have witnessed sales professionals have long distance relationships with leads to whom they have sent numerous amounts of information, placed numerous phone calls and video conference calls with quotations etc. The reason however why they have been "#strungAlong" is because either a) they are not speaking to the decision maker/influencer or b) they haven't fully qualified the need, urgency, budget, timescale etc.
Fix: Discover who is involved in the sales process and find out the company process. Establish a need followed by urgency for your offering.
7. Sellling a product or service and NOT a solution
Depending on your industry, many factors come into play. Selling a box with flashing lights might not cut it for everyone.
On the other hand, selling a solution to address a pain is a different story. I have spoken with countless sales professionals who get so involved with their offering in statistics and how great their product is, that they don’t ask the simplest question that will position the prospect into a position to commit and therefore do not create that need or urgency!
Some sales pitches aren’t hard but the sales professional doesn’t know how to position themselves into selling a solution that addresses a pain and creates that need for urgency.
During my career to-date I have been guilty of this and it took two great individuals/mentors to immediately put me back on track to continue billing. It goes without saying that this is a big “No-No”.
As with any sales professional there should always be processes in place to maintain time management and various other procedures, in order to streamline the sales process and workflow throughout the day.
Being unorganised slows down the sales process throughout the day with the mundane procedures of having to chase related emails, follow up on issued invoices, ensuring that all relevant department personnel are in the loop, etc.
Fix: Organise and plan the day. Put pen to paper and format a to-do list, organise your emails. If not already in place then implement targets lists with action to call procedures to streamline the sales process.
With the aid of CRM systems most organisations have some type of process in place. Learn the flow and stick to it – don’t bounce backwards and forwards. CRM systems are there to help guide you.
However, there are sales professionals who do tend to #wingIt. I know!
9. Not following up
This cannot be stressed upon enough. Communication is key! Lack of communication can cost a relationship and sale. Sales is not just about getting the client past the finish line and having them sign off. Sales is also about the relationship you form! It's imperative at every step of the way that both the sales professional and prospect/client are in constant communication. Earlier I mentioned “over-talking” and now let’s speak of “over communicating”. Of the many elements involved in sales – over communicating is a big plus.
Fix: Keep in touch with your prospects and clients. Never let them forget you as you might be able to help each other out further down the line whilst forming a personal relationship.
The take away: Prior to converting any lead into a prospect; the challenge has already begun. It began before the sale started.
10. Not closing
Closing is an area of sales that cannot be taken for granted!
“I am not saying that you need to learn how to “close” a 10-month trial in a Supreme Court case, over a deal that could cost billions of taxpayers hard earned cash, but there is an element that goes with it.”
There are some so-called sales professionals who love to speak and can easily build that rapport – it makes me jealous. With so much effort that has been put into building a rapport and qualifying a prospect, when it comes to closing the deal or getting commitment, they fall flat!
It's a shame that some of these sales professionals just never seal the deal. They are truly and genuinely nice guys, but ‘nice’ doesn’t cut it!
Fix: Learn to close, learn to get a commitment – the hard work has already been done. The fix at this stage of a sales cycle is a mental switch just like turning a key.