While most of us know the theory behind successful selling, we often forget best practices when we are dashing about trying to hit targets. Consequently, we miss out on potential leads and deals that could prove influential for a sales team, individual salesperson, and client.
To ensure you hit your sales goals, develop into a good salesperson and build a team of successful salespeople, we have outlined the seven deadly sales sins to be mindful of. Avoid these whenever possible to maximize your potential in sales.
1. Waiting for an Opportunity (Live Prospecting)
Are you waiting for prospects to put their hand up instead of getting out there and finding them yourself? Are you relying too heavily on those well-established client relationships you've had for years instead of being proactive and generating new leads for your sales pipeline? If so, then in this fast-paced climate, not only will your pipeline run dry, but you will also start to feel the effects of 'leaky bucket syndrome' – diminishing sales turnover as you lose more clients than you take on.
If you are not constantly creating opportunities, then your pipeline will eventually run dry - it's inevitable. So be positive and proactive, don't shy away from cold calling, network as much as possible, and reach out and ignite those all-important new conversations. This will have a significant impact on your turnover and your morale.
You should search through LinkedIn, attend networking events, and frequently email your database and contact list. Call those old contacts you've not spoken to for a while – it's surprising where calls like these can lead - get yourself and your product out there and watch the ripple effect - positive results will come your way.
2. Selling in Silo (Sales Excellence)
Every sales professional has a comfort zone, a product, and a service they know inside out. Ask any question about this product, and you will see the answer - we get it. However, limiting yourself to one part of your business limits your sales and business growth. Upskilling and diversifying means you have a better chance of offering your clients and prospects exactly what they want and possibly did not even know they needed.
Learning every product your business has to offer puts you in the best position to always make a sale with any new prospect. It also puts you on the front foot to drive organic growth, enabling you to cross and upsell while making you sound more knowledgeable in your field.
So upskill, learn the broader portfolio, great sales leaders always optimize the bigger holistic opportunity – it's one of the key differentiating traits of those that make it to the top.
3. Motiveless Meetings
Meetings are great as long as they have a clear purpose and plan. It's about planning and preparation. Both of these actions are vital in successful sales – yet with numerous prospects and clients to manage, over-investment in prep can be detrimental to other business priorities. Like most things in life, it's a question of balance and prioritizing.
The internet has empowered us all to Fact Find Fast, so use it. Find as much relevant information as possible about the contact you are speaking with and the company they represent. Understand their business, the fundamental market dynamics, proposition, and pain points to give yourself the best possible chance of closing a sale.
Try to anticipate any concerns you think they are likely to raise so that you go armed with the answers. Then, use your preparation time wisely, prioritize, decide which actions will have the most impact on the result, and set a clear meeting agenda with clarity and purpose!
4. Shallow Relationships (Account Management)
When you meet with your client, do you ask enough questions? Are you asking the right questions? Do you see every interaction as an opportunity to build upon the relationship? Identifying the needs and, most importantly, the pain points of the business you are trying to win is imperative.
Ultimately, the more you understand the type of person you are talking to and their goals, the easier it becomes to align yourself with the same things. It's a cliché that we have one mouth and two ears for a reason, but how often do we forget it?
Ask the right questions, listen to the answers, and pick up on the nuances, body language, and unsaid and clear points. Great conversations build great relationships, and these, in turn, lead to great things. The value of a loyal client and customer relationships cannot be over-estimated – not just commercially, but as a source of advocacy, recommendation, and overall reputation enhancement. Loyal clients also provide a business anchor, that essential bedrock of security that empowers the business to go out and innovate, focus on new growth streams, etc.
But loyalty is never the result of a shallow relationship. On the contrary, the great ones are built on understanding. So question your client, listen to their needs and ultimately learn from them.
5. Limiting Beliefs (Sales Fundamentals)
Limiting beliefs are those which constrain us in some way. For example, 'I can't sell in IT because I have an arts degree and don't get the language.' These beliefs are about ourselves and what we presume others think: 'the client will only want to buy a sales training solution from a company specializing in the tech space.' Like the two itemized here, these beliefs often are a groundless barrier to success.
In all sorts of industries, the best sales leaders across the globe do not have an industry-related degree – so clearly, it is no barrier to success. Instead, they would say that they applied themselves to master the nuances and relevant dynamics of the category and that this application, combined with excellent sales techniques and drive, rocketed them through the ranks.
You can likely succeed in sales in most industries with application and the right attitude. Take information from great sources, speak to people in the know, get out there and do your research amongst prospects in the industry.
Use the fantastic sources of online information at your fingertips, and do everything you can to get the best insights into the category you are trying to break into. Your knowledge and confidence will build rapidly. Once you start applying this in new business meetings and with prospects, you will find there is no stopping you!
The only thing that will stop you is limiting beliefs.
6. Capitulating on Price. (Negotiation Skills)
Many salespeople are guilty of this. You're so happy that you bagged a sale that you now find yourself practically giving your products away. Where is the negotiation? Where is the actual value of your product and service if you keep slashing its price?
Every time you reduce the cost, you are potentially devaluing your product in the eyes of your clients. So is it shocking that the marketplace's most desirable products and services command premium price points and rarely reduce them?
Emotions can run high in negotiation processes, and salespeople often concede on price due to frustration or fear of missing a sale. Instead, stay calm and measured, and believe firmly in the value of the product or service you are selling. Successful negotiation strategies are a two-way process and, when handled well, can strengthen relationships.
So, get your product story right, sell it with charisma and conviction, and you will be pleasantly surprised by how prospects respond – you will get far less pushback on price. And when negotiation does come into play, make sure it is just that – negotiation and not capitulation.
7. Underselling (High Impact Presenting)
This final sin is probably the most damaging and often why we capitulate on price.
Under-selling is usually the result of two critical mistakes. The first is failing to understand your product USP or value proposition – and as such, sounding like you are offering the same things many others do – so it becomes a fight on price. The second is lacking the presentation skills to make an impact and communicate your product and its benefits in the best possible way.
So what is your USP or value proposition, and why? Ensure you are positioning your product or service to highlight the more significant benefits to your client and why these are not transferrable with another provider. Take input from marketing about defining that competitive edge and making this tangible to clients. Put monetary value to it where you can.
Once you decide how best to position your product, how you sell it is arguably even more important. Sure, high-quality presentation material and content make an impression, but you and your delivery will always have the most significant impact.
Presentation is an art and a science, and in this age of message bombardment and diminishing attention spans, we have an ever-decreasing window of time to make an impact with prospects.
So make sure you are armed with an excellent presentation that gives your product or service a clear edge, then upskill in the most important part – your delivery!
Because the truth is - if you undersell, you will inevitably need to underprice.
If you're a salesperson looking to develop your skills, a sales manager wanting to maximize the potential of your sales representatives, or a business owner needing more from your sales personalities, we can help. Discover how our sales training courses can help you steer clear of the seven deadly sales sins and progress in the industry; contact us today.