If you work in a sales environment, then the likelihood is that you have experienced the frustrations of feeling you’ve closed a deal, only to find out that you haven’t. Most salespeople can empathise with the disappointment of investing heart and soul into trying to sell a product or service that is clearly a great fit for the prospect, only to find out that their approach has failed.
So, if you’ve got a great service or product but you’re not selling it as well as you should, then where might you be going wrong? Below, we’ve listed the four sales mistakes that we believe salespeople are most likely to make:
1. Selling a product and not the solution
A common mistake that salespeople make is to focus their sales pitch on their product or service. Although this might seem the most sensible approach, it’s not. Why? Because prospects are typically driven to source a product or service by problems and challenges.
As such, take the time to understand what their motivations are in coming to you and try to identify at least two key challenges they are facing. Your pitch should then focus on how your service or product will resolve these challenges. If your prospect leaves the conversation with the feeling of ‘problem solved’, then you’ve done a good job.
2. Thinking it’s all about price…
Do not jump too quickly to price. Inexperienced salespeople often believe that offering a low price quickly will seal the deal. This isn’t the case. Prospects want you to fully understand the ‘whats’ and ‘whys’ of their needs and to present a solution. Price is rarely the key driver and a salesperson who jumps too quickly into discussions around price risks being perceived as having too little confidence in the product or service they are selling.
This isn’t to say that you can’t mention price early on, (some salespeople like to mention price early so that the prospect can gain an appreciation of the value of the product or service throughout the subsequent discussion), just don’t give it too much weight – it shouldn’t be the factor that makes or breaks the pitch. Although your prospect might claim that they are only driven by price, this is rarely the case and they will typically opt to pay more for a solution or product that delivers.
3. Asking ‘easy’ questions and avoiding ‘difficult’ questions
A common mistake during the pitch is to focus on the ‘nice’ questions which provide ‘nice’ answers. By avoiding the difficult questions, the salesperson forgoes the opportunity to uncover and manage the prospect’s sales objections. Asking these questions may be uncomfortable for someone who is inexperienced in sales, but with experience comes the recognition that conversion comes more easily by tuning in to (and managing) buying signals and potential objections.
When speaking to prospects, watch out for objections in what is not said and body language. Be prepared to act quickly but tactfully, while demonstrating a keen interest in wanting to understand their position. Be brave with your questions and be prepared to ask things that might take you out of your comfort zone.
4. Having a drifting pipeline, rather than a directed pipeline
A common mistake made by salespeople is to focus on uploading prospects to their pipeline without really considering what they need to do next to close the deal. A free-flowing pipeline will undoubtedly lose prospects along the way due to external factors, such as losing the business to competitors who are more directed in closing business or a role change which results in the prospect being replaced by someone else. Alternatively, the urgency may disappear, and the need may be shelved for a while.
As such, it’s important that you plan early on how you are going to convert the work. If you behave with tact and professionalism, then you should be able to press on closure without appearing to be a pest.