When trying to close more deals and reach your quota, mistakes can be costly. Avoiding common pitfalls can help you improve your sales performance and allow you to achieve your sales goals. Some of these mistakes result from novel sales scenarios you have never experienced. But most of them are known, making them easier to avoid. Doing so will improve your performance and your win rate.
Common Mistakes Made by Sales Reps
- Failing to create value in the sales conversation
- Not researching a prospect’s company before a first meeting
- Opening a first meeting by talking about your company and your offerings
- Failing to facilitate the buyer’s journey
- Not gaining access to decision-makers and stakeholders
- Leaving client concerns unresolved
- Giving concessions instead of negotiating
- Not focusing on sales effectiveness
1. Failing to Create Value in the Sales Conversations
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The salesperson who does not create value in the sales conversation will fail their audition. Buyers need to know what they don’t know, and they rely on salespeople to have some expertise. We call this information disparity. Buyers also worry about making a bad decision, one that will make things worse. If you don’t know more than your contacts, you cannot prepare them to decide and make a purchase.
2. Not Researching a Prospect and Their Company before a First Meeting
It is a mistake not to visit LinkedIn and download the PDF of the contact or contacts you are meeting with before a first meeting. You should also read a large part of the company’s website to better understand your customer. This will help you avoid asking questions you should already know the answers to. One salesperson I know asked their prospective client in a sales meeting “Can you tell me what your company does?” It was a short conversation. But you might make this mistake without knowing it. If you ask about the company’s problems, pain points, or their implications, you remove any possibility of being an expert and authority in your client’s eyes. Your sales strategies should position you as an authority with your potential customers.
3. Opening a First Meeting by Talking about Your Company and Your Offerings
Your client agreed to a meeting because they need help improving some result important to their success and the success of their business. They accepted your request for a meeting in hopes that you can help them improve their results. When you start a monologue about your company and your offerings, you are executing a sales pitch for your company and your products and services. This is not a strategy to increase sales.
If this is how you open first meetings and sales calls, it may not be your fault. This is the legacy approach to sales, one that is more than a hundred years old. The outcomes of starting the conversation using this approach not only fails to create value, but it also identifies you as a time waster, and prevents a second meeting. You need a better sales meeting agenda. You can learn modern approaches by reading and practicing the sales strategies in Elite Sales Strategies: A Guide to Being One-up, Creating Value and Becoming Truly Consultative.
4. Failing to Facilitate the Buyer’s Journey
Sales reps who believe that their prospective clients know what they need to know to find their way in their buyer’s journey are making a critical mistake. Your prospective clients buy what you sell infrequently, so this customer journey can be difficult. By not leading your client through their buyer’s journey, you fail to create an important outcome: value creation. In The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales, you will find a structure of 10 conversations that will allow you to lead your client, control the process, and facilitate your buyer’s journey. Because you sell what you sell every day, you are responsible for facilitating the buyer’s journey.
5. Not Gaining Access to Decision Makers and Stakeholders
If you have ever experienced this mistake, you will have heard the single contact you were working with say, “We decided to go in another direction.” After hearing those words, you may have wondered who was the “we” they were talking about. This mistake is part of leading the client.
Without identifying who will weigh in on the decision to choose a new partner, you are almost certain to lose. You cannot build consensus without gaining access to the people that need to be part of the sales process.
6. Leaving Client Concerns Unresolved
The fact that your prospective client didn’t mention any objections is not evidence that concerns don’t exist. Any unresolved concerns might cause you to lose a deal. Sales reps who don’t want to ask about concerns or lack the language that would surface the concern are often treated to a call from a client who chose their competitor.
Unresolved concerns occur when you allow your contact to “meet with their team in the next couple weeks and get back to you.” The mistake is that you are the only one who can resolve their concerns, but you are not in the room to facilitate the process.
7. Giving Concessions Instead of Negotiating
Your new prospective client loves you and your solution. They are ready to buy from you, but before you can get ink, your contact tells you that you must sharpen your pencil. You run back to your sales manager to negotiate a concession with your sales manager. You proudly present the concession to your contact, and they pat you on the head for negotiating with your sales manager. Instead of concessions, you need to ask for something in return, turning a concession into a negotiation.
8. Not Focusing on Sales Effectiveness
You are not getting any significant sales training or development. This lack of training isn’t your fault, but it is a mistake to fail to get the training, development, and coaching you need. This is true even if your company refuses to fund your sales development. You can explore many sales training ideas. For $25 and six hours of your time, you can read a sales book, improve your sales approach, and upgrade your client’s sales experience.
Improve your sales performance by making the changes you need to avoid the mistakes that cause decision-makers to look elsewhere for help improving their results. If you are an individual, go here for more help. If you are a sales leader, here is a way to get help.