In sales, there are a number of common mistakes you should avoid in order to be good at your sales process so that you can ‘close the sale’ and get in more business and increase your profits.
Here are my top tips to handle your sales well:
Ø Not having a clear sales process. Having a clear and documented process is really important. It allows all your team to follow and use a tried and true method. It ensures even the solopreneur doesn’t ‘slack off’ and cut corners; as this is usually when things don’t work.
Ø Not thinking about your customers’ needs. Your first thought should not be how you can sell your products but rather how your product or services can help them. Think about things from your customer’s perspective. Having a spiel about what you are looking for in a sale is about you, not them. Think about what they want and need and be sure to ask the right questions.
Ø Starting with the wrong question. If you are ringing a prospect, the worst thing you can say is “Is this a bad time to talk?” – Asking this question states the obvious and you’re reminding your prospect of their workload. It indicates a negative thought that you’re about to waste their time. Also, avoid cliché’s like “to be entirely honest with you” too much; it’s almost saying you are generally not honest.
Ø Rushing the process. Nobody likes to be ‘sold to’ or talked into buying something – especially if they don’t realise yet they need it. I know I hate being pressured and told that I have to decide today or within 5 minutes otherwise the offer will disappear. Be realistic about these approaches; chances are you will get their ‘hackles’ up and they will not trust you and never buy from you.
Ø Being too picky. There’s an expression “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, same thing with customers. Don’t judge a person’s spending potential by the way he looks or what he wears. A man in stubby shorts may give you a whopping sale.
Ø Thinking you’re smarter than your customer. They know themselves and their business better than you do, so take the time to listen to their needs, so you can better serve them and how your service or product can help them. Needless to say that not listening is another huge mistake some salespeople make.
Ø Being Unprepared. Prepare for your meeting; Google the business or person or even their industry so that you understand them fully. Have questions prepared and of course know your product and pricing very well; you must be able to answer questions confidently and without pause.
Ø Chasing the wrong lead or person. This is related to knowing your customers. Know your customers so you can also find out if the lead really cannot afford or do not need your product or service, and to know if your lead has the sincere desire to purchase. When attending a meeting, ensure that you have all the stakeholders present. However, do this in the right way. I recall years ago a (male) insurance agent insisting my husband attend our meeting. As an independent and savvy business owner, his manner with me guaranteed I took my business elsewhere as clearly he didn’t perceive me as a decision maker. Now having that said I’ve attended meetings with females who have left the decision making to their husband. You cannot assume anything and you need to ask the right question, in the right way.
Ø Discussing price first before the benefits. Your prospect does not know that the price is fair until they know the benefits of your products and services, so discuss things in the right order. Don’t be in such a hurry to close the deal.
Ø Answering questions defensively. Don’t take their questions as a challenge nor be defensive. It’s normal for prospect to complain about the prices of products and services – it’s their part of the negotiation process. Instead of over explaining, try asking questions like why they feel it is too expensive or what they’re comparing it to. Again, be prepared with these questions or objections.
Ø Not realizing that no means no. Sometimes it literally means ‘no’ not a ‘maybe’. You need to know the difference. If it’s taking too long, learn to let go, and move on to the next lead. Consequently understand that ‘no’ means ‘no’ now and not forever. Don’t burn bridges or wipe that person or business forever. Leave things with them really nicely; they may well say ‘yes’ at a time in the future. However, when someone raises an objection (as opposed to a straight ‘no’) they are saying ‘maybe’ … and giving you the opportunity to yet convince them.
Ø Getting distracted by your phone during the meeting. The meeting will not take too long, so turn your phone off or at least keep it on silent mode to make your prospect feel important. Ideally turn it off in front of them saying something like “I’ll turn this off so we don’t get interrupted”. It’s a subtle hint for them to do the same – sometimes it works.
Ø Talking too much and listening too little. It may be hard to control yourself when you’re passionate with your products or services and you’re keen to sell, however learn to stop and listen. Talking too much will bore them, make them feel undervalued, and make them feel like you’re overpitching. Make the meeting more interactive and keep your ears open. Please also don’t overdo the friendliness factor; you are not their ‘bestie’ or long lost pal, please treat them with respect and be professional.
Ø Overpromising. This is a sure fire way to ruin your reputation, especially when you don’t deliver. Avoid unrealistic promises during your sales pitch just to make your clients happy and hopeful. It’s far better to under promise and over deliver; let them get a nice surprise regarding a value add or your customer service.
Ø Not asking for the sale. You have to ask for the sale at the end. Sure, you might get rejected; but don’t fear that. It’s all part of the process and a ‘no’ allows you to move onto the next opportunity. They could easily also accept your proposal or quote and you can then outline how things will proceed from here.
Ø Not asking for referrals. A referral is a form of marketing, even one of the best. It is sometimes called “word of mouth”, and it is powerful because people often purchase products based on other people’s reviews and opinions. By not asking for referrals, you may lose out on potential customers. The best referrals are from people who have used you and are happy customers. I also ask for testimonials too; these are good for your marketing.
Ø Not following up on leads quickly enough. You’ve got the lead, done all the prep for the sales meet, attended the meet and then you let it die whilst up in the air. The worst thing you can do is not follow up or to follow up too slowly. It’s a statistical fact that 80% of prospects want you to follow up. So do them and yourself a favour and ensure your follow up process is efficient and prompt.
Ø Not offering different options. Some customers are simply exploring and may not be ready to commit at first, but may be ready in a few months. Offer some options that involve less commitment, such as free downloads in exchange for their information (name and contact details), then offer phone calls and face-to-face meeting when your customers are ready to commit. If offering a few different service options, just be sure you don’t provide too many choices; this can confuse the prospect and they end up buying nothing because it’s all just too hard.
Ø Having no lead capture process. Either on your website or even generally. Leads are very important in sales, so design your website to capture the visitors’ names and contact details such as email addresses in exchange for a bit of free resources. Ensure your process captures every lead and tracks them so that you have a sure fire way of reconnecting with all your leads, and being able to calculate your conversion rates. This will help show you what works, and what does not and allow you to be better at follow up.
I perform sales training with groups or individuals around business – particularly businesses which are selling a product or service. Like to know more, call me directly on 0411 622 666 and I’d be happy to explain how I can help you achieve better sales results in your business.
Donna Stone is a business coach with three decades of experience. She grew her own business from a garage to be a multi award winning operation that spanned five locations nationally. She shares this knowledge and expertise with clients to guide them in their own success. Donna works with business owners to help them build up their business with the view to selling it in – whether that be in 3 months’ time or 3 years’ time. Donna is a prolific blog writer, offering her blog writing services to business owners. She is also a five times published author. Visit www.donna-stone.com.au
© Donna Stone, 2016