The way I see it, underachievement is either the result of a lack of skill or a simple oversight of the fundamental basics. As such, I don’t want to take you back to basics with this article so much as “forward to basics” so you can maximize your success in the sales process.
Between all the businesses I’ve worked with, I still have yet to find one with a truly unique challenge. Companies repeat mistakes all the time, so much so that reaching a diagnosis is typically a straightforward exercise.
With this in mind, I wanted to share with you the seven most common business mistakes — and, more importantly, how to avoid them. Committing these to memory will give you the edge, provided you take action.
1. No planning
Most businesses can reach a certain level of success based on the individual brilliance of the business owner. This is good news, but that early success can rarely be duplicated, certainly can’t be modeled and can encourage complacency.
Let me give you an example:
Do you have a prospect list? A “no, not today” list? A system to manage customer accounts? If not, you are missing out. The person going nowhere usually gets there. The bigger the list, the bigger the business, so get all your prospects on the list — especially the big ones!
2. Tunnel vision
Many sales staff members and business owners are programmed to do exactly as they are told and have acquired some serious tunnel vision. They will only see the opportunity that someone else tells them exists. They just provide a quote for exactly what they are asked for or answer the exact question posed.
To reach sales excellence, you need to open your senses and think beyond the obvious. The job is selling and not telling, and it’s our role to help our customers buy. Use the question “why?” more often. Our success is a direct correlation to the number of problems we can resolve for our customers. The more problems or challenges you can uncover, the more opportunities you get to help with and the more success you will have earned.
3. Trying to rush
Our individual brilliance often gets us to our desired solution for our potential customers before they’re ready. Closing too early is a massive turn-off and is often the reason that sales people are thought of as pushy. An exceptional sale is like a romance – going straight for the end result will only bring limited success.
The fun for both parties is in the journey. Prospects must receive value and hence must be courted; the flirting catches their attention, and then you find commonality, have fun and ask questions. Only then do you make your move. At this point, your chances of both initial success and relationship longevity are significantly increased.
To be quite honest, what we do as sales professionals is of great interest to us and we like talking about ourselves. However, once a customer is convinced, stop convincing! As salespeople, we are professional mind-maker-uppers, so once your client has made up their mind, continuing to talk will raise questions and can only result in giving your prospect reasons not to buy.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The goal should be to undersell and over-deliver. Most complaints businesses receive result from oversold products or services.
5. Not explaining yourself properly
When we explain our products and services, we tend to list their features and sometimes give some benefits. This is what we’ve been programmed to do. However, it’s actually the results of what we do that encourages people to make sales decisions.
People make buying decisions based on emotion, not logic. Demonstrating how you help people gets to the emotion behind the choice and gives people a good reason to buy from you.
6. Lack of follow-up
We spend tons of time creating opportunities and finding people with whom to speak. Then, when they don’t answer our first call or email and maybe our second or third attempt to call, we give up. We may even get a meeting or a chance to send a proposal or quote. We send it, and if we don’t hear back after a weak attempt to follow up, we give up.
The sales process is about control. Persistency wins – so never, ever, ever give up.
7. Making sales into a numbers game
Ever heard that every “no” is just one step closer to a “yes?” This is a total myth. Every “no” hurts – trust me, I wear the scars. Sales is not just a numbers game. Sales is a learning game. If it were a numbers game, everyone would have the same results in a large sales force. This myth is an excuse for failure. Be honest with yourself. We all make mistakes – make sure you learn from them.
Take time after each successful and failed opportunity and remind yourself of what worked well and what you would do differently. Only a lunatic would continue doing the same thing and expect a different result.