Sales is a competitive industry that requires much preparation, effort and commitment every single day. When you lose a sale to a competitor, it’s easy to blame things like price or unreturned phone calls. Instead of blaming, it’s best to admit you lost the sale because of something you did or didn’t do. Once you identify the sales mistakes you made, you can use what you learned to win your next sale.
In this article, we will go through six common mistakes most sales people make in their sales strategies.
Mistake #1: Forgetting that the selling and buying processes are now more complex (thus the term “complex sales”).
The selling process is now more complicated than ever. You now have more competitors in your industry, and you have many options to offer your prospects, which means you have to spend more time identifying their real needs; there are more levels involved in your selling process, and you have to deal with them all if you want to get the decision from your prospects. The buying process is also completely different than it was in the past. Buyers today are firmly in control of the engagement. They have more access to information than at any time in the history of sales, and they’re using this information to do a lot of the work in the early stages of the buying process, without the help of a salesperson. Buyers now do online research about your website/products/reputation, they download relevant content and engage with your social channels without your knowledge, making it harder to create a shortlist of vendors. Today, buyers rely on the power of social media and peer-to-peer communication to make decisions even before they engage with a salesperson.
“To sell successfully, it is important to understand the selling process, but it is more important to understand the buying process.”—Phan Tin Nghia, Business Development Manager at Profiles International SEA
If you don’t continually update your knowledge of the selling and buying processes, no matter how good your selling skills are, you will fail at your sales pitch.
Mistake #2: Using the wrong sales funnel.
At the top of the funnel, you try to attract as many leads as you can into your funnel. These are people who you think might need your products or services. Once they’re in, your next task is to qualify your leads to identify your potential prospects. These are people who have problems your products/services can solve; they need your products/services, and more important, they can make the buying decision and have money to pay for your products/services. Many sales people fail at this step, which can lead to the issue below:
Jon Biedermann,Vice President of DonorPerfect, a CRM fundraising software company in Horsham, Pennsylvania, shares his own experience: “When I first started in sales, I was an eager beaver,” he recalls. “No lead went untouched or uncalled. I treated every opportunity as the sure fire next sale.” Big mistake. Early in his career, Biedermann got a lead from a large university. He called to assess their needs, customised the software for them and worked on personalising the demonstration for days. “The day of the demo came, and I presented our software in front of 10 people from the university. We had everything they needed—it was perfect,” he says. But when he asked about the decision-making timeframe, he was crushed. “Oh, we aren’t going to switch software,” they told him. “We were thinking about using this for our smaller satellite campus, and we were hoping you would donate it to us.” Biedermann realised his error instantly. “In my zeal to get the sale, I completely forgot to ask the one crucial question: Do you have the authority and money to make this decision?”
After qualifying your leads, only keep qualified leads in the funnel; unqualified leads need to be removed from the funnel. Your sales people should only spend time on potential prospects. After all, having many leads after the qualifying step doesn’t necessarily mean closing many sales.
Mistake #3: Not knowing your customer’s need.
Many sales people make this sales mistake because they don’t listen to their customers, and they just try to sell them what they have. Knowing your customers’ needs is as important as knowing your products/services. Too often, salespeople sing the praises of the product or service they are selling without hearing what the customer wants, and you cannot sell to someone if you do not know what they want. Listen to your customers; and identify their specific needs. The more you know about their business, the better you can customise a program to meet their needs, offer the right products/services and solve their problems.
Instead of going in hellbent on selling a particular item, approach your initial dialogue as an exchange of ideas. Only by having a discovery conversation can you really understand your customers’ objectives. There is no excuse for trying to sell products and services your customers don’t need.
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