As sales coaches and trainers, we see a lot of sales mistakes.
In fact, I made a ton of mistakes when I was starting out (and still make many mistakes today!) one of my main goals is to have written on my headstone “Here lays Sharn Piper – The most successful, unsuccessful person to ever live”.
It’s perfectly fine to make mistakes because that’s the only way you learn, improve and become better. But we need to make sure that from every mistake, we learn.
This was one of the reasons we started the sales coaching and training part of Attain – for business owners, sales managers and salespeople to be able to learn from our mistakes, knowledge, and experience to help them find their success.
You can’t do anything about your past mistakes, but you can control what you do going forward.
I couldn’t go back and erase my mistakes that led to my construction company going bankrupt during the Global Financial Crisis. For a while after there were a lot of days I didn’t want to get out of bed and face the world.
But I did get up from bed and I worked my butt off to learn from where I went wrong so next time, I wouldn’t make those same mistakes (just different ones – you’ll always make mistakes!).
On a lighter note, here are nine sales mistakes I see a lot, which I believe if you are aware of them you are able to choose to try and avoid them, which will make a massive difference to your sales results.
1. Not Doing Your Research
Have you had an experience with a salesperson where they turned up to try and sell you something and had no idea what your business does? You probably weren’t particularly impressed.
After all, if you don’t know everything you can about your prospect, their business, and their pain points, how can you demonstrate that your solution will help them solve their problem?
Additionally, a lack of research will definitely be apparent to your prospect and give the impression that you don’t really care about them or their business.
2. Lack of Energy
Imagine you’ve met someone for the first time and they have a complete lack of energy of spark. It’s pretty hard to carry on a conversation with them and it’s most likely pretty draining.
Now imagine they want you to buy their product or service. It’s not happening.
So, regardless of which side of the bed you got up on, always make sure you have energy when you’re selling. You’re the representation of your company, its brand and the product or solution you want them to buy. A low energy sales pitch will not provide a good impression!
3. No Clear Outcome
What do you want to achieve from your sales call or meeting? If you’re not sure, then your conversation will appear disjointed and all over the place.
Hard to follow for your prospect and definitely not confidence giving, it will also show you don’t value their time. Not to mention, you’re not likely to get them to the next stage in your sales process (see point 7!)
Instead, know what outcome you want before you start the conversation – begin with the end in mind. Subconsciously this vision will shape your behaviour and actions, vastly increasing your chance of achieving the desired outcome.
4. Lack of Knowledge
No matter how great of a salesperson you are, if you don’t understand the product, service or solution you’re selling you won’t close many deals.
It’s the flip side of point 1 (not researching your prospect) how can you demonstrate your product or service will solve their problem if you don’t have the necessary knowledge about it?
While you probably don’t need technical knowledge, knowing its key features, benefits and applications is a good start. After all, you need to be able to answer your prospects questions as well!
5. Being Desperate
Sales is a high-pressure job. If you’re a salesperson you’ve got targets to hit and, if you’re commissioned, a large proportion of your income probably comes from closing deals. Whereas if you’re a business owner, you need to be making sales to stay in business.
No matter what else is going on and how important making a particular sale seems to you, don’t be desperate. Your prospect will pick up on it and, once again, it’s a poor reflection of your brand and product.
Instead, you have control over how you present yourself, so be calm and reflect confidence. And don’t be afraid to walk away and take no for an answer. There will always be another prospect and another opportunity – if you work for it.
6. No Sales Process
I wrote a whole post on why it’s important to have a sales process, which you can read here. Essentially, without one, you’re just winging it.
You’ll be less productive, miss out on opportunities and have no way to measure the effectiveness of your sales activity.
For non-salespeople who have to sell, a sales process is also an incredible confidence-giver and can transform their relationship to “sales”.
7. Not Following up
A lot of time and effort goes into sales, so it still amazes me that people don’t follow up their leads and prospects to get them over the line.
Just because you sent someone a proposal and didn’t hear back from them, that doesn’t mean they didn’t want to go ahead with your solution. The only way to know is to follow them up and ask. If you don’t, you’re incredibly unlikely to close the sale.
Always follow up if someone hasn’t got back to you. It’s a quick, simple thing to do and can have a massive impact on how many deals you close.
8. Giving Up Too Early
It can take a lot of touch-points with a prospect before they eventual commit to purchasing your product or service. The varying research seems to agree that anywhere from five to eight touch-points is about average but, in reality, it can vary widely depending on your target audience.
The mistake a lot of salespeople make is that they give up on a prospect too early. Amazingly, one study found that 50% of salespeople give up after the first contact and by the fourth contact, almost 90% of salespeople have given up.
Obviously, if a prospect is a clear “no” or definitely not suitable for your product or service then you don’t want to waste your time pursuing them. However, if they are a well-qualified prospect and you haven’t got a clear answer from them – don’t give up.
Not making these sales mistakes will do wonders for the success of your sales activity and increase your closure rate.
Do research your prospects and know what you’re selling them. Have energy and don’t come across desperate for the sale, and make sure you have a sales process, follow up, and don’t give up too early.
If you’d like to have a chat about how we can help you improve your sales results – get in touch.
Sharn Piper – CEO
M: +64 27 733 4333