There are three generations of sales approaches being used today. The first is the legacy approach, which is over 50 years old. The second and most common is the legacy solution approach, which is around 35 years old. The third approach is the modern sales approach, and ironically, it is the oldest of the three.
The legacy approaches were weakened by the rapid change in our environment and a change in what decision-makers and buyers need. Salespeople who struggle to create and win opportunities make seven common mistakes that stem from the two legacy approaches. Improving your sales results means avoiding these practices.
Sales Mistake 1: Building Rapport First
The desire to create a personal connection is natural. When you sit down for a meeting with a busy person, however, small talk can position you as a person who wastes time. The more time you spend trying to make a connection, the less time you have to create value for your contacts. Today, a valuable business conversation replaces rapport.
The underlying cause of this mistake is not believing you are a business advisor. This poor positioning at the beginning prevents you from being a peer. The One-Up salesperson has the best chance to develop a relationship with their contacts. That relationship is that of a trusted advisor.
Sales Mistake 2: Sharing Facts About Your Company
The busy executive you are meeting with isn't interested in a history lesson. You are already in the room with your contact, and they expect you to use their time wisely. No matter how old your company might be, no facts about your employer will lend you credibility. The only way to be credible and relevant is to prove it in the sales conversation.
The need to point at your company to gain credibility is evidence you are One-Down. It also means you lack the ability to lead a valuable sales conversation and provide instruction. When this is true, your contact is certain to look elsewhere for help.
Sales Mistake 3: Sharing Your Logo Slide
I once showed a small client a logo slide with all the big logos my company had captured. The contact responded, "We are too small to work with you." What she meant was "You are not going to believe my business is important."
The only company your contact wants you to talk about is theirs. The mistake of believing that your prospective client is looking for proof they are safe buying from you is out of sync. At some point, the contact may want proof. But early in the sales conversation they are trying to understand why their results are poor and what they need to do. When a salesperson can't create value in this respect, they share their logo slide.
As your contacts explore change, you should try to answer questions in the sequence they establish. They are not trying to decide who to buy from in the first half hour of a meeting.
Sales Mistake 4: Promoting Your Solution
Promoting your products and services feels like a pitch. In early conversations, your contact isn't ready to be pitched. The salesperson who can go without ever mentioning their solution in the first conversation is better positioned to win the client's business. Because they have conversations their clients value, they differentiate themselves. They also create a preference to buy from them.
If you believe describing your products and services creates value in early conversations, you will lose to One-Up salespeople. The only vehicle for creating value is the conversation.
Sales Mistake 5: Failing to Create Value
You are not being evaluated on your likeability, your company's bona fides, your clients, or your products. This is a deal-killing sales mistake. Your client's appraisal will be around the value you create. It is your job to prepare your client to make the right verdict on what to do to achieve better outcomes.
When a contact doesn't feel you prepared them to improve their results, it suggests that the conversation wasn't helpful. Creating this value is the most important outcome of the sales meeting.
Sales Mistake 6: Failing to Differentiate
Sales organizations want their teams to believe that their company and its products provide differentiation. The sad truth is that they don’t. Your company and products can help your clients—and so can your competitors’.
Meaningful differentiation is found in helping clients understand how different companies deliver value. Enlightening your clients on the concessions that come with each model allows you to differentiate yourself and your company.
Sales Mistake 7: Failing to Lead the Client's Journey
A failure to lead the buyer's journey stems from one or more of these factors: 1) believing the client is leading the journey, 2) believing the sales process is linear, 3) being conflict-averse, 4) not recognizing the client doesn't know what they don't know.
The inability to inform your contacts of what conversations they will need to improve their results causes losses, even if you avoided most of the other sales mistakes. This is critical now.
Sales Mistakes, Missteps, and Misconceptions
These seven mistakes are largely responsible for decision-makers disengaging with you. They are also why your client chooses to buy from another salesperson. What's worse is that when your prospective clients are subjected to these mistakes, they sometimes give up because they don’t have enough help to complete their buyer’s journey.
Most mistakes and missteps are due to the many misconceptions you find in legacy sales approaches. If you struggle to convert a first meeting to a second meeting, avoid these seven sales mistakes.
For more help on being One-Up and adopting a modern sales approach, pick up a copy of Elite Sales Strategies: A Guide to Being One-Up, Creating Value, and Becoming Truly Consultative or download the Revenue Growth Blueprint.