Sales Mistakes

10 Biggest Mistakes

These examples are sales mistakes that will cost you business.
Make sure you do not fall into these traps.

1. Not telling the truth.

Salespeople need to be honest not only with customers, but with themselves as well.

Early in a sales career you may find yourself in front of a customer when you ( for whatever reason ) are not as knowledgeable about the business of your customer or your products as you should be.

The mistake many salespeople make is to try and fake it. DON’T. It wastes your customer’s time and makes you look foolish. Admit your lack of experience and / or your lack of knowledge. Apologise for your inadequacy and ask the customer for their help. If you are new in the industry or the job many people will be only too pleased to help you through.

Likewise some salespeople fool themselves that a sale is going to happen when the odds are it's not. If there are no obvious buying signals why would you think a sale is about to occur ? Be honest with yourself. If it’s not working change your approach and if all else fails move on to the next prospect.

Also, stop blaming the economy or anything else for your problems. Accept 100% responsibility for your sales success and approach all tough sales situations with a "what's possible" or "how can I?" mindset. If you're stuck, brainstorm with friends or colleagues.

2. Not learning from your mistakes.

Over the years I’ve noticed many salespeople continuing to make the same mistakes. They do this because they never take the time to analyse their sales calls.

This is the only way you can get better. It’s simple just ask yourself: a) what went well? b) where did I run into problems? and c) what could I do next time to get even better results? 

3. Focusing on quantity of calls rather than quality.

Unfortunately, many sales managers push their salespeople to make more sales calls.

Selling used to be a numbers game. In the past you could spend your time smiling and dialling and that might have worked. Today, too many people are too busy to listen to a pitch. Cold calls are a low probability and only worth your time if your time isn't worth very much.

Do your homework – According to Cahners Research, 76 percent of business-to-business purchasers report they are most frustrated with salespeople who don't understand their business.

Make fewer sales calls - but much better ones. Focus all your efforts on preparing for the call. Determine the logical next step for each meeting. Then, working backwards, think about what you need to do to make this outcome a reality. Test every idea you come up with from your customer's perspective. Think: If I said or did this, how would my customer interpret it or react? Only their perception is important - not what you meant. Make your changes before the call to increase your success.

4. Talking too much.

Some salespeople think that the best salespeople are the best talkers. That's not true. You’ll never hear a buying signal when you are talking. Besides listening gives the impression you CARE about your client’s business, which also helps build trust.

The best sellers are great listeners and they use silence well.

Develop listening skills – Don’t interrupt your customer unless it’s to clarify something you don’t understand which is crucial to further statements they are making. It helps when you've done your research and are able to ask good questions and spot opportunities to sell your product. 

5. Following a set spiel.

Over the years I’ve seen many salespeople try to learn a “canned” approach. I’ve never personally witnessed a learned approach that worked well.

I believe one of the predictors of sales success is flexibility, or the ability to vary your approach in different situations, because customers are different both personally and in a business sense. A good salesperson responds to the type of customer he is talking to and discovers through skilled questioning the real needs of their client.

It is appropriate to get right down to business in a sales call with an assertive, more emotionally controlled customer. It is inappropriate to do the same with a customer who is less assertive and more responsive.

Do not assume that just because one customer raves about how good your product is that their competitor will react the same way. They could have different production methods. They could have a different niche market. The other components used in their process may be different. 

6. Expecting too much too soon.

Patience is a virtue that salespeople need. Some things do take time. If you want a piece of business badly enough you may have to be persistent and try to make contact over a longer period of time. Be patient and don't give up if the account is worth it. Negotiating may take time and impatience to close a deal can cost you money. Your patience is your power when it's combined with persistence.

Don't try to rush sales - even if you’re desperate. Customers feel your push and immediately erect a wall of resistance. Maintain a consultative approach and find out all you can about your customers situation. Think of yourself as more than a salesperson – you are providing a solution to a problem. In Tom Hopkins’ words you are a PPS = a Professional Problem Solver.

Just remember. Slow down. And you'll get the business sooner.

7. Not being clear about what happened or was agreed to.

I have seen many instances where a salesperson comes back into the office believing a customer wants “X” when they really want “Y”. There many be a mix-up on the quantity of the order or the date of delivery or the payment terms.

This is so easy to avoid by backing up during the sales call to confirm what has been said and getting agreement from your customer as the call proceeds. End the call with a summary of what actions are required or products ordered. Have a list of all the things you need to process an order, AND GET IT RIGHT.

With important sales calls it’s a good idea to write a summary of the meeting and send it to your customer to confirm you both agree on what was discussed and agreed to.

8. Ending a meeting without a definite course of action.

Don't ever leave a sales call without agreeing on a next step or scheduling your next meeting. They're running from meeting-to-meeting, busy handling way too many projects. Get the meeting date in both your dairies.

Ask your prospect to do something. You'll know you're talking to a real prospect if they are willing to take some action. Even if their action is only to review your data prior to the next scheduled meeting.

9. Not being prepared.

Ideally you need to know about your prospect’s business before the sales call. Remember, according to Cahners Research, 76 percent of business-to-business purchasers report they are most frustrated with salespeople who don't understand their business.

During the call you ask questions to elicit their problems and what implications those problems have for their business. You can then focus on how your offering meets their needs. Prepare a list of questions. Don't wing it. Start by simply making a long list of questions - everything you need to know about your prospect to let you know if you can help them or not. Pare down the list, organise it in the most logical order and there you have it. Have the questions in front of you when you're on the phone or in a sales call.

10. Focusing on yourself rather than your client.

Remember the words of Zig Ziglar “You can have everything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want”

You can only determine if the product is a good fit for the customer if you know them, their problems and their needs. You can only notice a buying signal if you are focused on the buyer rather than on what you want or what you are going to say next.

Selling isn’t asking a question to find objections and then beating your customer into submission for each objection. If it's not a reasonable fit, forget the sale. Find the prospects that do need your benefits and value.

You can learn from your mistakes. It's even better to learn from other people's mistakes. Avoid these mistakes and you will make your selling more successful.

And if you want t learn about a lot of the right things to do you may like to consider buying, reading and practicing what's in my eBook influence and persuasion.

Here's to YourSalesSuccess.

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