Making mistakes and learning from them is part of the path of growth in the sales profession.
Fortunately, you can often expedite your journey by identifying common missteps made by other sellers, learning from them, and avoiding similar mistakes as you construct your strategies and processes.
Following are four common sales mistakes and tips on how to avoid them yourself.
1. Not Valuing the Talent Around You
As a leader, you face a lot of pressure and accountability for your team’s performance. For managers with a directive personality, this stress can produce an autocratic leadership style.
However, trying to micromanage the activities of self-motivated and talented sellers is likely to backfire. Instead, recognise the talent of your team and realise you don’t have to accomplish everything yourself.
One important strategy to maximise your team’s talent is to clearly define roles in selling processes and activities. This point is especially true when training or developing a member of your sales team.
Ultimately, to operate with optimised production efficiency, you want each person on your team to succeed with delegated responsibilities, freeing you for more leadership opportunities.
2. Failing to Take Notes and Keep Records
Sales managers need to take notes on the successes and failures of the team. You can use these notes to mentor and coach, and to help refine selling processes so that your team achieves the greatest sales conversion success.
Your team also needs to build good record-keeping habits. Inputting critical profile data is essential to lead generation and nurturing.
Over the course of the sales cycle, your reps also need to keep notes on meetings and record customer decisions. These CRM records drive your ability to analyse accomplishments and missed conversions so that you can continue to develop optimised processes.
3. Poor Listening and Defensive Posturing
If you’ve ever been to a sales conference, you will probably have noticed that many salespeople are much better talkers than listeners. Sometimes trying to get a word in edgeways can be an onerous task!
I spoke about this last December in the post “Are You Listening To Your Customers?“. The mistake in not adopting a listening attitude during prospecting is that you fail to ask the right questions and to gather critical details of need discovery.
Sales people should listen the majority of the time during prospecting. Too many of them presume they know what the prospect wants, or that they actually have a budget for their particular solution.
A full understanding of the buying conditions is necessary to configure the best solution – for your client, you, and your company.
Additionally, sellers must listen with genuine empathy to buyer concerns. For example, when a prospect criticises a product feature or your price, human nature can cause you to jump straight into defensive mode.
However, defensive posturing and frustration do little to put a buyer’s mind at ease. With a sincere desire to understand the concern, you and your sales team can listen intently, show empathy, and respond with necessary benefits and value statements.
And if your prospect does say “Your price is too high”, please, please, please don’t start gushing about experience, or quality, or added value that you can offer. And whatever you do, do not offer a discount immediately. You haven’t even been asked a question!
Your prospect is simply making a statement. They are gauging your response and also, you must remember, wants the best price possible for their company – and rightly so.
Respond with a question: “Why do you think some companies have a lower price than others?” Because at this moment, they are not on the same wavelength as you and don’t see the value in what you are offering – yet.
4. Wasting Time on Fruitless Calls
This is the most common sales mistake that sales people make (along with wasting time on fruitless proposals). And we’ve probably all done it at some stage in our careers. Time is a valuable resource in selling, and coaching your team to avoid wasted calls is as important as helping them make effective ones.
Before meeting and interacting extensively with a prospect, ask important qualifying questions.
Critical qualification factors include a prospect’s real need for your solution, ability and willingness to make a purchase decision and financial viability. Teach effective lead qualification steps and help your team guard against wasted meetings and unproductive presentations. It also shows a prospective client that you are interested in finding out as much as you can about them to ensure you present the best possible solution for their particular requirements.
Another pointless endeavour is continuing to call on a prospect when it is clear that “No” means “No”. Bow out for the time being when, after addressing concerns, attempting to work through objections, and retrying the close a few times, a prospect is still showing no willingness to commit.
Keep good notes in your database and schedule a reminder to call back after a few weeks or months. If a need does exist, and you have a great offering, the prospect may become riper for the purchase at a later date.
Recognising the common mistakes that burn good salespeople helps you guard against making them yourself. Many of the most common missteps centre on lack of recognition of internal resources, no attention to detail, poor listening and wasted activities.
Effective strategies and processes, as well as constant coaching, helps build successful habits in these areas. Don’t be like your competition – outshine them in every area you can.