7 Selling Mistakes that Cost You Sales

By Danny Wood

Danny Wood – Sandler Training – Danny Wood Enterprises

1. You don’t tightly target your prospects

Salespeople often fall into the temptation to tell your story to whomever will listen. After all, talking to anyone is more productive than sitting at your desk waiting for a potential customer to call.  Right?

Maybe not.

Be selective about the people to whom you “tell your story.”  Use your existing customer base to identify the characteristics of your best customers.  With that information, develop a profile of your “ideal” customer.  Then, search out prospects that most closely fit the profile.  You may meet with fewer people, but you’ll close more sales.

2. You’re not selective about prospects

Expressing an “interest” in your product or service is not a strong enough reason to schedule an appointment with a potential prospect. Find out why prospects are interested and what sparked their interests before you schedule appointments.

If interest isn’t backed by recognized needs or desires for your product or service—now or in the immediate future—then there’s not a compelling reason to meet.  The objective of scheduling appointments is to start the selling process…not to make friends or have pleasant conversations.

3. You don’t control prospect conversations

Prospects must recognize needs or desires for your product or service. They must be willing to discuss the reasons behind the needs or desires.

Prevent conversations from going in different directions. When scheduling an appointment, make it clear that the objective of the meeting is to determine if your product or service meets the prospects’ needs, and that the conversation focus will be to explore and understand those needs.

4. You’re not properly prepared for meetings

Salespeople often schedule appointments and forget about them until the day before the meeting.  Preparation becomes a last-minute activity being nothing more than a quick review of the notes from the original phone conversation and a quick look at the prospects’ web site, advertising, or marketing materials.

Can you answer the following questions about your next prospect appointment?

  • What are the first three questions you’ll ask the prospect after you say, “Hello”?
  • What questions will you ask to create rapport and get to know the prospect?
  • What questions will you ask to explore the prospect’s need and home in on the underlying reasons for or events that precipitated the need?
  • What commitment(s) will you ask for if there is a fit between what the prospect needs and what you can provide?

If not, then you’re NOT prepared.

5. You neither establish credibility nor demonstrate expertise

Your job is to help prospects view their situations from different perspectives…and discover aspects of their situations they didn’t previously recognize.  To accomplish that, you must be knowledgeable about your product or service, understand specific reasons people would need it, the situations that create the need, and the consequences of not addressing the needs.

Most importantly, you must be able to ask questions to help prospects make those “discoveries.”

Asking questions that show you understand their problems or needs and your grasp how to solve those problems, is perhaps the single most important skill to master.

6. You don’t ask “tough” questions

To thoroughly qualify opportunities, you must ask tough questions to:

  • Identify core aspects of situations
  • Define elements at the center of controversies
  • Uncover root causes of problems
  • Discover carefully guarded information
  • Obtain rarely volunteered commitments

You won’t be able to accomplish any of those tasks without asking tough questions. You may not like the answers because they disqualify the opportunity.  However, knowing sooner, rather than later, that continuing to invest your time will lead to a dead end. Disengage and move on to better opportunities.

7. You rush to make presentations

Don’t be too eager to make presentations.  Salespeople often view them as opportunities to establish the value of their products or services by demonstrating their unique aspects.  You can’t establish value until you have determined which aspects, if any, are relevant to the prospects’ situations.

The purpose of presentations is to confirm your ability to deliver the solutions prospects are qualified to buy.  Never make a presentation until the prospect has been qualified.

Until you have determined the reasons prospects would buy your product or service, uncovered budget, discovered their decision-making process, and obtained their commitments to make those decisions, you should refrain from making presentations.

If you make a presentation before thoroughly qualifying opportunities, you leave the presentations with the prospect’s promise to “think it over.”

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