7 Deadly Sales Sins
Whilst most of us know the theory behind successful selling, the truth is that when we are dashing about trying to hit targets we often forget best practice.
Here are 7 deadly sales sins to be mindful of – avoid them whenever you can!
Waiting for an Opportunity (Live Prospecting)
Are you waiting for prospects to put their hand up, instead of getting out there and finding them yourself? Are you relying too heavily on those bedrock clients you’ve had for years, as opposed to being pro-active and generating new leads for your sales pipeline? If so, then in this high churn climate, not only will your pipeline run dry, you will start to feel the effects of ‘leaky bucket syndrome’ – diminishing sales turnover as you lose more clients than you put on.
If you are not constantly creating opportunity then your pipeline will eventually run dry - it’s inevitable. Be positive, proactive, don’t shy away from cold calling, network as much as you can, reach out and ignite those all important new conversations. This will have a major impact not only on your turnover but on your morale. Search through Linked in, attend networking events, email your database and contact list frequently, call those old contacts you’ve not spoken to for a while – it’s surprising where calls like these can lead - get yourself and your product out there and watch the ripple effect - positive results will come your way.
Selling in Silo (Sales Excellence)
Everyone has a comfort zone, a product and service they know inside out. Ask any question on this product and you will know the answer - we get it. However, limiting yourself to one part of your business limits your sales and ultimately business growth. Upskilling and diversifying means you have a better chance of offering your clients and prospects exactly what they want, and possibly did not even know they needed. Learning every product your business has to offer puts you in the best position to always make a sale with any new prospect. It also puts you on the front foot to drive organic growth, enabling you to cross and upsell, whilst also making you sound more knowledgeable in your field.
So upskill, learn the wider portfolio, great sales leaders always optimise the bigger holistic opportunity – it’s one of the key differentiating traits of those that make it to the top.
Meetings are great as long as they have a clear purpose and agenda, it’s about planning and preparation. Both of these actions are vital in successful sales – yet with have numerous prospects and clients to manage, over investment in prep of any kind can be detrimental to other business priorities. Like most things in life, it’s a question of balance and prioritising.
The internet has empowered us all to Fact Find Fast, so use it. Find out as much relevant information as you can about the contact you are speaking with and the company they represent. Understand their business, the key market dynamics, their proposition and their pain points to give yourself the best possible chance of closing a sale. Try to anticipate any concerns you think they are likely to raise, so that you go armed with the answers. Use your preparation time wisely, prioritise, decide which actions will have the most impact on the end result, and set a clear meeting agenda with clarity and purpose behind it!
Shallow Relationships (Account Management)
When you meet with your client do you ask enough questions? Are you asking the right questions? Are you seeing every interaction as an opportunity to build upon the relationship? Identifying the needs and most importantly, the pain points of the business you are trying to win is imperative. The more you understand the type of person you are talking to and their goals, the easier it becomes to align yourself with the same things. It’s a cliché that we have one mouth and two ears for a reason, but how often we forget it.
Ask the right questions, then really listen to the answers, pick up on the nuances, the body language, the unsaid as well as the clear points made. Great conversations build great relationships, and these in turn lead to great things. The value of a loyal client cannot be over-estimated – not just commercially, but as a source of advocacy, recommendation and overall reputation enhancement. Loyal clients also provide a business anchor, that essential bedrock of security that empowers the business to go out and innovate, focus on new growth streams etc.
But loyalty is never the result of a shallow relationship, the great ones are built on understanding. So question, listen and learn from your client.
Limiting Beliefs (Sales Fundamentals)
Limiting beliefs are those which constrain us in some way. For example ‘I can’t sell in the IT space because I have an arts degree and I don’t really get the language’. These beliefs are not only about ourselves, they can be about what we presume others think: ‘the client will only want to buy a sales training solution from a company who specialise in the tech space’. Like the two itemised here, so often these beliefs are a groundless barrier to success.
Most of the best sales leaders across the globe, in all sorts of industries, categorically do not have an industry related degree – so clearly it is no barrier to success. They would say that they applied themselves to master the nuances and relevant dynamics of the category, and that this application, combined with great sales techniques and drive, rocketed them through the ranks.
With application and the right attitude, it’s highly likely you can succeed in sales in most industries. Take information from great sources, speak to people in the know, get out there and do your own research amongst prospects in the industry, use the amazing sources of on line information at your fingertips, do everything you can to get the best insights into the category you are trying to break into, and your knowledge and confidence will build rapidly. Once you start applying this in new business meetings and with prospects you will find there is no stopping you!
The only thing that will stop you is limiting beliefs.
Capitulating on Price. (Negotiation Skills)
So many salespeople are guilty of this, you’re so happy that you bagged a sale that you now find yourself practically giving your products away. Where is the negotiation? Where is the true value in your product and service if you keep slashing its price? Every time you reduce the price you are potentially de-valuing your product in the eyes of your clients. Is it really surprising that the most desirable products and services in the marketplace command premium price points, and rarely ever reduce them?
Emotions can run high in negotiation, and sales people often concede on price due to frustration, or fear of missing a sale. Stay calm, measured, and believe firmly in the value of the product or service you are selling. Negotiation is a two way process, and when handled well, can actually strengthen relationships. Get your product story right, sell it with charisma and conviction, and you will be staggered at how prospects respond – you will get far less push back on price. And when negotiation does come in to play, make sure it is just that – negotiation and not capitulation.
Underselling (High Impact Presenting)
This final sin is probably the most damaging, and is often the reason we capitulate on price.
Under-selling is usually the result of two key mistakes: the first is failing to really understand your product USP, or value proposition – and as such, sounding like you are offering the same things many others do – so it simply becomes a fight on price: the second is lacking the presentation skills to make an impact and communicate your product and it’s benefits in the best possible way.
So what is your USP or value proposition and why? Make sure you are positioning your product or service in a way that clearly highlights the bigger benefits to your client, and why these are not transferrable with another provider. Take input from marketing about defining that competitive edge, and making this tangible to clients. Put monetary value to it where you can.
Once you have decided on how best to position your product, how you sell it is arguably even more important. High quality presentation material and content makes an impression, sure, but you and your delivery will always have the biggest impact.
Presentation is an art and a science, and in this age of message bombardment and diminishing attention spans, we have an ever decreasing window of time to make an impact with prospects.
So make sure you are armed with a great presentation that gives your product or service a clear edge, then upskill in the most important part – your delivery!
Because the truth is - if you undersell, you will inevitably need to underprice.
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