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Eleven Biggest Mistakes Salespeople Make & What To Do About Them – Part 1

Monday, September 14, 2015 Back

Brad Parcells

Over the years, I have observed the mistakes of many professionals, including myself, in sales, in all industries in what I call “selling situations;” that is, where they are trying to acquire a new client or account. Although the actual approach may vary, there are many common pitfalls that trap professionals.

Please note these are not in any order and are equally important when considering your techniques, behaviors and attitudes towards selling and creating demand for your products and services that match your qualified prospects challenges, budget and decision making process.

Mistake One: They Talk Instead of LISTEN!

Situation: Too many professionals monopolize the time they have in front of prospective clients with their talk, only allowing the prospect to listen. For every hour in front of a prospect, they spend five minutes selling their services and 55 minutes buying them back.

Result: Sales people are a proud bunch. So proud of their knowledge that they want to share it with everyone. Therefore, they come into the call “showing up and throwing up” this knowledge, desperately wanting their important points to be heard.  The prospect hears, "Blah, blah, blah!"  The result is no engagement, too much unpaid consulting, no rapport, no trust and no sale. Here’s a dirty little secret about buyers, “ they really don’t care about your knowledge.”

Solution: The prospect should do most of the talking, as much as 70%. The sales professional only 30%, with 85% of that total asking qualifying questions to determine if the prospect really has challenges, budget and qualifies to get your intellectual property. This is not easy to do because prospects do everything in their power to keep sales people at arm’s length and remain in control of the selling conversation.  Why? Because they have been burned by bad sales people in the past, they don’t trust you and they definitely do not want to be sold.  So, a strong remedy is to ask great questions, listen, probe and clarify everything. Don’t assume anything because often times your buyer means something else based on their filters and intentions.

Mistake Two: They Presume Instead of ASKING QUESTIONS!

Situation: Some professionals seem to have all the solutions. In fact, companies no longer offer services, but are in the business of “providing solutions.” Since they have been faced with these situations before with others prospects and believe that their product or service is right for the prospect, they are not seeing things through the prospect’s perspective.

Result: They know and believe their solutions will work because they are proven and they honestly believe each prospect “needs me.” This triggers immediate features and benefits selling.  Go back to "blah, blah, blah" in the first mistake.  The only thing wrong with this approach is that too many professionals try to sell solutions without knowing what the problem is or what the problems are.

Solution: The professional must ask great questions “up front” to insure a complete understanding of the prospect’s perspective. It is important to find out “what” is happening, “why” it is happening, “how” long has it been happening, “what” have they done to try to solve the issue, and the real impacts those issues are having on the organization and the individual (and other decision makers) they are interviewing.  Get out of the intellectual conversation by digging deep to the emotional levels of a buyer.  Remember, people buy emotionally and justify their decisions intellectually.

Mistake Three: They ANSWER Unasked Questions

Situation: As children we are brought up to answer our parents/teachers and other authority figures questions. This behavior stays with us as we age and therefore when a prospect makes a statement like, “Your fees are too high” most professionals automatically go into a defensive mode and respond.

Result: Often sales professionals begin a speech on quality, value or experience. Sometimes they respond with a concession or a fee reduction. If a prospect can get a discount just by making a statement, then maybe the prospect should not buy until he or she tries something more powerful to get an even better price or discount. “Your prices are too high” is not a question. It does not require an answer!

Solution: Rather, understand the intent of the prospects statement (or question). Ask the prospect, “why do you think some companies charge higher prices than others?” Get them to explain! The statement that your fees are too high is not your problem, it is theirs. Get them to explain! Sell today and educate tomorrow is a great phrase to remember here. The amount of money sales people make is in direct proportion with the amount of information gathered rather than the information given up. Always find out the intent of their statements or questions. Always!

Mistake Four: They Fail to Get The Prospect to REVEAL BUDGET Up Front

Situation: Again, as children, we are taught by our parents that it is not polite to talk about money. This is wired into us (becomes our head trash) and can keep a sales people from discussing budget issues until the very end of the discussion. Then, all the unintended consequences begin to appear: throat tightens, voice cracks, bodies heat up and become clammy and confidence begins to fall. It’s not pleasant at all for both the sales person and prospect because there exists too much pressure.

Result: How can you propose a solution without knowing the prospect’s priority on a problem? Knowing whether there is money and other resources planned for a project will help the sales professional to distinguish between the prospect who is ready to solve the problem and the one who may not be serious at all. The amount of money that the prospect sees investing to solve a problem will help to determine whether a solution is feasible, and if so, what approach will match the prospect’s ability to pay.

Solution: Sales people must find out early in the mutual qualifying conversation if their prospect is both willing and able to make the investment in overcoming their problem and where the resources are coming from and when and how are they released.

Mistake Five: They Make TOO MANY FOLLOW UP CALLS When the Engagement is Actually Dead

Situation: Whether it is a stubborn attitude to turn every prospect into a client or ignorance of the fact that the engagement is truly dead, too much time is spent chasing prospective clients that don’t qualify for our products and services.

Result: Pride gets in the way of seeing clearly the situation and most believe the prospects “interest” is a huge buying signal that they have a “hot one.” The result is sales professionals are back on the proverbial hamster wheel to nowhere. Hoping, hoping, hoping. Wishing, wishing, wishing.

Solution: This should have been detected far earlier in the process. How? By asking great questions, staying in the moment and in control of the conversation, keeping your prospect comfortable and OK with your questions and testing for their commitment or decision early on. Have the guts not accept and clarify wishy-washy statements prospects make, "Your proposal hits our sweet spot," "We are definitely going with you,"  What do these statements mean exactly?  Find out because the buyer's intent is to make you feel good so you'll   give up more information and intellectual property when they have no intention of buying from you.  

Mistake Six: They Fail to Get a COMMITMENT TO BUY Before Doing A Proposal or Demonstration/Quote

Situation: Professionals are too willing to jump at the opportunity to do proposals and often end up wasting their most precious commodities: TIME, ENERGY, MONEY & other RESOURCES.

Result: They miss their true goal in acquiring a client and become free educators, many times merely teaching their prospects enough to help them buy from their competition or use the information to keep an incumbent supplier. How many proposals has your firm done where thousands of dollars of un-billed time and effort were spent chasing phantom opportunities because there was a poor job of qualifying the prospect early on in the screening process?

Solution: Qualify first, sell today and educate tomorrow!

Originally posted by

Brad Parcells

Core Strengths®, TotalSDI®

Eleven Biggest Mistakes Salespeople Make & What To Do About Them – Part 1

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