Looking to increase your sales effectiveness? It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling a product or a service, if you want to grow your business, here are 25 common sales mistakes to avoid.
- Too dependent on one customer. How much of your sales volume is concentrated in one customer? If you place all your eggs in one basket, any fall will be a messy one.
- Responding to every request for proposal. Don’t respond to every request for proposal (RFP). If you don’t have a good chance of winning, save your time — and your dignity. If you wouldn’t hire you, neither will they.
- Failing to do your homework. Before you meet with a sales prospect, know who’s involved in the decision-making process, determine their key buying criteria, and identify the ultimate decision maker. If you fail to do so, you’re working in the dark.
- Dealing with the wrong person. When you deal with a go-between, you rely on the intermediary to relay your message to the decision maker. That’s risky. You are your own best advocate.
- Emailing your proposal. When you give a presentation, your passion and excitement come through loud and clear. Conversely, when you email your proposal, your enthusiasm gets lost in transmission.
- Creating wordy visuals. Some salespeople create slide decks packed with words. The fact is, images are more impactful and memorable than words alone.
- Creating boilerplate presentations and proposals. If you want to sway your audience, communication must be relevant — not generic. Make that happen by knowing your audience and addressing their unique hot buttons. That comes from listening rather than talking.
- Talking about features rather than benefits. People don’t buy products; they buy the value that your products offer. Consequently, if you don’t relate product features to customer benefits, your words will fall on deaf ears.
- Speaking in jargon. Some salespeople get so caught up in their own narrative that they’re talking to themselves. If you want to communicate effectively, express yourself in terms that your customers understand.
- Communicating piecemeal messages. If you want your audience to get the complete message, don’t assume that everyone received, read, or remembers all your communication. Make sure they don’t have to dig up the pieces to get the full story. Instead, use every opportunity to reinforce key messages.
- Overpromising and under-delivering. If you can’t keep a promise, don’t make it. In addition, keep your customer up to date to avoid surprises.
- Selling price rather than value. Some salespeople sell their products and services based on price alone. Price is a relative thing. You get what you pay for. Cheaper isn’t always less expensive.
- Exaggerating claims. Some people spin the truth, make false statements, or exaggerate claims to make their product sound better. If you do that, everything you say going forward will be treated as suspect.
- Presenting a one-sided story. Some people manipulate, suppress, or withhold important information to sway their audience. Instead, bend over backward to be open, honest, and straightforward. Demonstrate your objectivity by presenting positives and negatives.
- Emphasizing prospects over existing customers. Some organizations are like a turnstile — landing new customers one day only to lose them the next. It’s significantly cheaper to retain an existing client than to recruit a new one.
- Thinking small. It often takes as much effort to sell to a small customer as a large one. Having said that, large ones usually present unlimited potential and cross-selling opportunities going forward.
- Putting all your eggs in one basket. It’s not enough to have one contact person in an organization — even if your relationship is strong. What happens if that person leaves or gets promoted? Expand your network.
- Losing touch with contacts. Stay in touch with employees who leave your customer. If you have a relationship, they’re a natural prospect when they land their next job.
- Leaving money on the table. Some folks drop the customer like a hot potato after the sale is made. They forget that closing a sale is not the end of the sales process but rather, the beginning of the next sale.
- Wining and dining customers. Some folks rely too much on personal relationships. Although relationships are great, it’s only one piece of the equation.
- Offering too many choices. When you give people too many choices, you make it harder for them to make a decision. You’re the expert. Help them narrow down their choices to a few.
- Peaking early. Some sales close on the spot. Others take weeks, or longer — because those sales have a high price tag, involve multiple decision makers, or affect several locations. That kind of sale is a marathon not a sprint, so develop a sales strategy to maintain enthusiasm over time rather than peaking too early.
- Focusing on your needs rather than on your customers’ needs. Some people make policy changes that benefit their business rather than customer convenience. Those folks spend more time filling out internal paperwork than adding customer value.
- Overselling your customer. Greedy salespeople sell customers more than they need. While you may secure an order, you’re placing the entire relationship in jeopardy. Never win at the expense of a relationship.
It’s in your best interest to do what’s in the customer’s best interest.
The Key to Sales
I saved the most important point for last.
- Many salespeople think they’re selling a product or service. The reality is, they’re selling themselves as well as their organization. People do business with those they trust.
Your job isn’t to sell to people, but to help them. To listen intently to their issues and offer solutions that address their needs. That means putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and doing right by them. Period!
When you do things for the right reasons, the money will follow.
In addition, your job isn’t over after the sale is made; go out of your way to make sure that your customer is satisfied. After all, bad news travels fast; good news travels fast, too. While you may think this process is arduous and time-consuming, that may be true. But if you follow these precepts, you’ll learn that this sales approach is more efficient than you think. After all, when you live with honor and integrity, your reputation will speak volumes. And word of mouth will do your selling for you.
Which Mistakes Do You Avoid?
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