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Eleven Biggest Mistakes Salespeople Make & What To Do About Them - Part 2

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 Seven: They Chat About Everything and AVOID STARTING the Sale Before Doing a Proposal

Situation: Building rapport is necessary and desirable, but all too often the small talk does not end and the "sale qualification" process does not begin.

Result: Unfortunately, the prospect usually recognizes this before the professional and, as such, are in complete control of the conversation.  The sales person is so focused on the chatter that the meeting time is over and are back on the street wondering how he or she did with that prospective client.

Solution: Start acting differently.  If you act and sound like every others sales person, you will be treated like one.  In order to build comfort and rapport with the prospect, face to face communications are the most effective.  Why? Because 93% of effective communications comes from body language and matching the prospects tonality.  Only 7% comes from the words you useIn phone selling, 83% of effective communication comes from matching the prospects tonality and 17% are the words said.   With E-Mail or texting, a sales person is missing out on 93% of effective communication.  Sure e-mails are necessary to document communication and/or send a document to one or multiple people.  However, don't use it for selling. Stop selling via e-mail, period!

A sales person begins to build trust from their first interaction.  Have the guts to be different from everyone else and remain professional and in control.  Remember, with trust, all things being equal, people buy from people they trust.  All things not being equal, people still buy from people they trust.  Build trust and rapport first.   As one of my friends, Tom Frost said from my first post,

Mistake Eight: They Prefer "MAYBE" Instead of Getting to "NO"

Situation: Prospects are constantly ending the engagement interview with the ever so prevalent "think it over" line, or "we'll be in touch and "you're at the top of our list."

Result: The professional accepts this indecision and even sympathizes with the prospect.  It is easier to bring back the message that the prospective client might use the firm's services "sometime in the future," rather than saying this prospect is not a candidate for the firm's services.  After all, wasn't it the professional's responsibility  to got out and get the prospect to say, "yes?"  Getting a prospect to say "no" can also produce feelings of personal rejection or failure.

Solution: Get a backbone!  Go for the NO early!  You might be saying about now, "if I go for the No, then I won't have sales?  No, that's not what I am saying.  Find out if your prospect qualifies to get your intellectual property by specifically understanding their emotional challenges or pains, budget and decision making process.  Remember how to do that from part 1? Ask great clarifying questions to get to emotional level of the prospect (ask what is going on, how long it has been going on, what have they tried to do about it and did it work?  Have they given up on finding a solution? How does that make them feel, really feel?), next find out about budget and then decision making process.  Each step along the way is a mutual qualifying or disqualifying event and gives both of you an opportunity to bow out if there is not a fit.  Find out if they don't qualify or if you don't qualify then you will have your answer and direction on what to do next.   As from part 1, remember to find out the intent of their wishy-washy statements.  You'd rather know now than waste precious time, energy and other company resources chasing phantom opportunities.

Mistake Nine: They See Themselves as BEGGARS instead of DOCTORS

Situation: Professionals don't view their time with a prospective client as being spent conducting an interview to see if the prospect qualifies to do business with their organization.

Result: All too often a "prospect" really remains a "suspect" and never gets to the more qualified level of a prospective client or customer.  Professionals often find themselves hoping, wishing and even begging for the opportunity to "just show their expertise" and then maybe a sales will be made.  Many of us do this by offering free consulting engagements.  This is unlike a physician who examines the patient thoroughly before making a recommendation.  A Doctor uses various instruments and questions to conduct an examination of the patient.

Solution: The professional should view questions as the equivalent to the Doctor's instruments and conduct his or her examination of the prospective client.  See yourself as a surgeon!  Probe, dig, clarify, understand.

Mistake Ten: They Work Without a SYSTEMATIC APPROACH to Selling

Situation:  Professionals find themselves "going with the flow" to make the sale.  Their approach has worked in the past, why not now?  What happens is that they allow the prospect to control the selling process.

Result: Professionals often leave the sales interview without knowing where they are because they do not know where they have been and what the next step is to qualify the prospect and get to the engagement.

Solution: The need to follow a specific systematic sequence and control the steps through the discovery process is vital to the professional's success in acquiring new clients and getting more business from existing ones.  There are a number of excellent selling systems and sequences in the market as well as books.  Sandler Sales training ~ find a local office in your market, read up: "Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play" by Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig are a few golden nuggets.


Situation: What happens when the prospective client is faced with professionals who  look, act and sound alike in a multiple selection process?  How might the prospect make a decision in that situation? By who has the lowest price?  Personality? Who knows?

Result: If you act, sound and be like every other sales person trying to get someone's business, you will be treated like everyone else.  Prospects will shut you out, they will bend the truth, lie and keep you at arm's length.  They also will avoid your questions and they will seek all of your information about your company.  They also will keep the conversation intellectual and will remain in complete control of the sales conversation.

Solution: In order to outsell the competition and avoid losing prospects and clients, the professional needs to develop an approach to selling their firm's services that differentiates from the competition and that is more effective in overcoming the prospects situation.  Developing a questioning strategy looking for a prospects "pain" is the most effective approach rather than playing some form of "show and tell".  Pain is the underlying emotional reason people do things.  People make buying decisions emotionally and justify those decisions intellectually.  Get your prospects to pick up their paint brush and paint their picture for you.  That way they own it!  

Most sales people are taught the QPC strategy to sales.  Q=Qualify, P=Present your Solution, C=Close the sale.  It is out dated and puts too much pressure on you and the prospect.  With a small, yet dramatic change to this formula to: QCP, you'll close more opportunities.  It is a profound shift in thinking and in your strategic selling approach.
There is one more to add to this list that most people miss completely.

Mistake Twelve: They do not FEEL Comfortable or Know How to Properly Ask for Referrals and Personal Introductions

Situation: Most professionals either do not ask for referrals or who completely stumble through the process of asking for referrals and personal introductions.  They have all this head trash about sticking their necks out and asking.  This is because they have burned before, the people they have asked before are either not comfortable with this or have also been burned before by bad sales people who don't know how to do this well.  Whatever the reason, it is leaving money on the table.

Result: People are hesitant to provide referrals or personal introductions because you are either acting differently and/or totally focused on your gain.  Therefore, you are making them uncomfortable and when that happens usually prospects and clients shut down.  At most, they will give you a name and number and tell you that you cannot use their name.  What kind of referral is that?

Situation: In order to win more clients and prospects into providing personal introductions you have to manage the process really really well.  First of all, begin this process with a servant's mentality.  This shifts the focus away from you to where it should be, on your prospect or client.  Remember this: "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."  Help them first and follow through on our commitment.  Set the example all the time ~ not just one, but all the time!  Then get their agreement up front to share a future conversation with you about these personal introductions.

Once your ready for those personal introductions help them focus on their networks and find out why they might be a good introduction.  Get your clients to think about ways in which your products or services helped them overcome specific challenges and coach them through this conversation before they actually make that introduction. Coaching them through this conversation helps them become more comfortable and provides a workable framework that makes these introductions easy to execute.  Got it!
Originally published by

Brad Parcells

Core Strengths®, TotalSDI®

Eleven Biggest Mistakes Salespeople Make & What To Do About Them - Part 2

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