Every now and then I meet salespeople who are extremely creative in developing lists of excuses. You know the ones – the economy’s still bad, our prices are too high, and so on (there’s actually a neat little list up at Fearless Selling). We’ve previously talked about what makes a successful salesperson.
But after hearing these excuses over and over again, I decided it was time to turn the subject around and talk about what kind of mistakes great salespeople avoid; how and why do others lose their potential sales, and how is all of this connected to our conception of what sales success is.
1) Not blocking in the time for prospecting.
This, ultimately, is the lack of discipline. If you don’t take the time every day to put in new conversations into your sales pipeline, you’re going to run into trouble at the end of the month when you have no new opportunities coming up.
2) Focusing on the wrong KPIs.
This one’s a simple mistake to make. If you’re that person who only keeps their eye on the month-end revenue target, then you’re not doing it right. You can’t control revenue. But you can control the activities that’ll help you find new opportunities, or advance the ones you have. Set a target for how many emails, calls and demos you should do every day or week and follow that target. I can assure that you’ll eventually notice an increase in your month-end figures purely because of focusing on specific activities.
3) Being too receptive to criticism.
When I took my first sales job, I was immediately told that I need to get covered with teflon – the stuff they cover frying pans with – so that no bad sentence or insult told would ever stick. You know that after a certain amount of prospects saying no there will be one in need of your product or service. Don’t let yourself being influenced by the ones didn’t buy when going to the next one that could be the buyer.
4) Preparing too much.
Yes, you still need to have sales skills, you probably need some scripts, and yes selling is often all about preparation. But there is a thin line between wasting time and actually going out selling. Trying to figure out the best possible response for every situation – it just makes no sense. You learn much better by doing sales with real prospects. Don’t get scared of not knowing everything, no one ever does. Plus, you still have that teflon skin when something does backfire.
5) Burning bridges with leads who didn’t buy.
You as a professional salesperson are out there to consult your prospective customers as to whether they have a genuine need for purchasing or not. This consulting process brings value to the consumer, as well as you, regardless of whether they purchase – they will at least have a better understand of their needs and a good understanding of solutions to use after you are done. If they don’t purchase, you should never burn any bridges, because in 6 months time their mood, resources or interests may have changed. The decision-maker may move into another organization etc. Point being, once you start holding grudges, you start losing potential deals in the future.
6) Not creating a buying atmosphere.
It’s all about your intent – defining it for yourself, selling the intent to your prospect and establishing trust within the process. The best sales professionals bring buyers closer to being honest with each other, not take them further away. Don’t try to sell your prospects something they don’t need, don’t mislead them, don’t cheat. They can feel it and they won’t buy. Or they distance themselves, won’t share their actual needs with you, and thus make their decision on the wrong grounds. This means that when they finally receive your product or service, they may be inherently disappointed – in you, in your company, in your product – it will backfire.
Now the first thing I ask of you is simply not to commit these mistakes. Instead, do these two things:
1) Think about the specific activities that help you obtain new sales opportunities and advance the ones you have. Regardless of whether they’re calls, meetings, emails or other pursuits, find them out, set them as goals and keep on doing them daily.
2) Turn on the Goals feature in Pipedrive and start tracking of how many new opportunities you add every day or week. Or how many opportunities you manage to advance into a stage that gives both you and the customer a good reason for final negotiation. That way there will always be something to close…
Do you have anything to add to this list? Post them to the comments section below.