Sales Mistakes You Cannot Afford
July 1, 2008
In my many years of training, I’ve noticed certain selling mistakes committed repeatedly, by both veteran salespeople as well as new hires. Here are a few of the biggest:
No formal sales presentation – Never assume that people understand what you sell, so you need not bother to explain it. Some salespeople forget that many prospects only have a surface understanding of what they sell, yet may be embarrassed to let the salesperson know. A good sales presentation simply covers the bases and guarantees prospects know all the benefits and how they help the prospects. Presentations can be dynamite selling tools if they address issues near and dear to the prospect. Of course, if the salespeople know little or nothing about a prospects needs, then they can’t give a dynamite presentation, can they? A good sales presentation is not “canned” or “memorized” so the salesperson sounds like a parrot. It is, however, an explanation of what you sell, presented in an orderly fashion, in plain talk, so prospects can easily understand not only what you sell, but also why they should buy.
Reading too many “relationship-selling books” – I’m for building positive relationships with customers; however, people don’t become lifelong pals after one or two sales calls. Pushing the issue too quickly to “buddy up” may cause some people to back off instead. Another difficulty is when salespeople spend too much time with non-selling conversation about personal matters, sports, family, etc. Always remember your customers are in the middle of doing a job that feeds their family, and are expected to produce results. Taking too much time with small talk or hanging out at a customer’s business breeds resentment. Be respectful of other people’s time. Good business relationships develop slowly based upon mutual respect. Keep initial sales calls cordial but professional. Being attentive to customers’ needs so they see you as a dependable problem-solver is one of the best ways to develop a long-term business relationship.
Not listening – Some salespeople simply talk too much. When you are talking, you are not listening, not learning about your prospect’s wants and needs. A good salesperson should talk no more that 30 percent of the time, the prospect 70 percent. The more they speak, the more information you gain about how to best serve them. Salespeople also must understand the art of asking open-ended questions to keep the information flowing.
Not taking care of established customers – Some salespeople enjoy the chase of obtaining new accounts so much they tend to ignore their established business. One of the most powerful marketing tools today is good customer service. Never allow customers to be treated as poor relatives looking for a handout. They are your most valuable assets.
Remember, your best customers are your competitor’s best prospects! Good luck and good selling! ND