Articles

7 Deadly Sales Mistakes

Chase customers who are not a good fit

Us salespeople love chasing all sales opportunities that come our way. That is resulting in a mistake. A mistake of chasing opportunities that are not a good fit for us. These opportunities are not likely to move forward or turn into positive ROI. If your sales team is closing 20% (1 out of 5), it’s likely one of those four losses was a poor fit.
It’s also likely that if the opportunity made it’s way down your sales process (assuming you have one) far enough to be forecasted, it met your ideal customer profile on paper. Which means it was likely the right size, in the right industry, used your type of product or service in their business already (manufacturer for example), and are credit worthy or established in their network. These are all characteristics to look for in a customer or prospect, but they are not the reasons salespeople lose or are blindsided by the outcomes.

Not working hard enough to identify AND ENGAGE with active DI’s

With the average number of people involved in a decision to go forward increasing (5-8 depending on your source), we salespeople need to do a better job at navigating through multiple decision influencers and understanding how they’re impacted. Leaders now are catching onto the “buyer persona” or helping their teams understand what drives each role they sell to. For example, “purchasing” is impacted by _________, and the “plant manager” is impacted by this ________ (when talking about a product you sell).
What ’s challenging isn’t identifying influencers (i.e. the people you sell to), it’s engaging with them, and not realizing how not engaging with an influencer completely changes your positioning in moving a sale forward. Simply knowing someone exists and is involved in the decision-making process isn’t enough, you need to ENGAGE with them.

Mis-handing sales tools with the wrong people

Today there are more buyers involved in a single sale, it can be difficult to allocate which tool to leverage, with who, and when. Sales tools are defined in our world as anything you use to differentiate or explain something about your product, service, or both. Traditional marketing material could be considered a sales tool, so could success stories, testimonials, personal experiences, or a specific feature description.
Salespeople can easily sabotage themselves by trying to leverage a certain sales tool with the wrong decision influencer (or “buyer”…whatever you call a person involved in the buying decision). Based on my experience, software salespeople do this quite often (as do many of us salespeople). They’re quick to talk about features of their tool without understanding how someone will use it (if they will at all).

Forcing a demo, slideshow, or deck instead of discovery conversations

Based on our conversations with the market, buyers are tired of being “shown” the next demo, deck, or slideshow from salespeople. Sales meetings are twice as long as they need to be because strategic discussions are not happening.
Instead, ask for a 15-30 minute discovery conversation to help your audience understand how you can impact their business, show off credibility, and exchange questions to shape their vision. Make it a conversation between two or more people, not a show and tell.

Not reminding their prospect of reasons for a change, from start to finish

A reason for change is called a trigger event. Trigger events are reasons for change that your audience experiences on their own or you help them realize. This is the cause of a buying decision. Without identifying a reason for change, or creating one, it’s likely you’ll be treated like a commodity, chase quotes or “science projects” as I call them, or both.
Continuously remind your audience of the reason for change they’ve shared throughout your conversations. DO NOT expect them to remember the one or multiple challenges they have, that’s your job. As a professional salesperson, you’re on the lookout to determine your prospect or customer’s priorities have changed as time goes on. Most salespeople I know would say their sales cycle is months, not just days. So it’s important to keep track of this data by verifying during conversations.

Basing their positioning off of gut feelings or emotion, not data

“They loved the presentation and are really excited about what we could do!”
That gut feeling and emotional response don’t make VP’s very happy when forecasting. Remove the “Grey Area” when it comes to talking about sales.
What did you want to accomplish? What did you accomplish? What’s going to happen next? What are you going to ask for? These are all binary questions for planning a pursuit.

Not asking for the next step

Too often we think we’re asking for something, but we’re leading with information. Why is asking so difficult anyway?

Not proactively seeking coaching from their manager

Always be looking for ways to improve.

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David Varner

David Varner: With a background in engineering, sales and global consulting, Dave brings a unique perspective to the sales training industry. This is evident in the workshops that Millau offers: simple to execute, based on data - not emotions - and produce immediate, measurable results. Dave is the co-author of the soon to be released books, The Sales Checklist and Not The Next Shiny Thing.