Selling isn't easy, even when you have experience. Eventually, those who treat selling as their craft instead of their job figure out how to sell effectively—winning deals and enjoying their work. But there are a number of mistakes many salespeople make as they gain the confidence and competence that comes from subtle feedback from their prospective clients. Some of this feedback is never communicated directly, but the lesson is delivered.
Too Much Rapport
The gregarious, extraverted, salespeople who get energy from meeting and talking to people can spend too much time and effort connecting in an attempt to create a personal relationship. This approach can cause the client to feel the salesperson is trying too hard and won’t be able to deliver the outcomes they need. The feedback here is that the client isn’t willing to agree to another meeting.
The new way to build rapport is through a business conversation. The end of the call is the best time to attempt to build personal rapport, especially if your contact starts the conversation. You will have clients that are also friends, but those relationships tend to grow over time, especially when you work through problems together.
Too Little Value in the Conversation
Your company is a good company, even if telling your contact that doesn't cause them to feel any different about it. The list of clients that your company serves isn't very valuable to your client. It's a bit like going on a date and sharing pictures of your extremely attractive exes. Your product and your solution may be the best on earth, but that conversation is another one where the client learns that you don't offer much help. The feedback here also comes as a refusal to meet again.
When the One-Down salesperson discusses their company and what they sell early in the sales conversation, they fail to be credible and relevant. Instead, clients consider learning something that would help them improve their results to be a valuable use of their time.
The Sole Decision-Maker
A level of interest and attention from a prospective client is a very good sign. What is even better is a contact who is deeply engaged and certain to buy whatever it is you happen to sell. What is not so good is hearing the contact explain they are "the decision maker," and that no one else will participate in the decision. In a large deal, your chances of winning with only one stakeholder has about the same odds of winning the Powerball three times in a row.
When asked about the process of gathering information, the non-decision-maker will explain they looked at a number of companies and disqualified a number of them. The salesperson who doesn't understand they are cannon fodder will believe they are being considered, even though that will likely be the last time they see the non-decision-maker.
Low Price Wins
Rationalizing a loss is normal. You don't want to believe you are responsible for the loss. One of the lies you tell yourself when you are learning to sell is to believe you lost because the main factor the client used to make the decision was price. The phone call or email from the lost prospect will convey the information that it was a very close contest, but your competitor gave them a lower price. The contact wants to help you feel better, that it wasn't anything you did. Instead, it was your company's pricing.
Your competitor may or may not have had a lower price, but that wasn't the single factor your contacts used to make their decision. They went with the company they believed would be the best and safest company to help them produce the results they needed. You will lose more deals than necessary by telling yourself that you weren't responsible for the loss. To believe that is true, you must also believe that you weren't responsible for the deals you won. You improve your results, it's best to believe everything is your fault.
Sending a Proposal and Pricing
A request for you to send a proposal and pricing almost always means you are speaking to your prospective client for the last time. The type of chasing that follows the mistake of granting your prospective client's request is not going to burn up a lot of calories, but it is going to occupy your time and your energy. Once your prospective client has your proposal and your pricing, you have lost control of the conversation.
When you are just learning to sell, it's easy to believe you will win by doing what your client asks of you, like sending a proposal and pricing because you want to please them, and maybe because you are a little naive. Over time, as you become One-Up and have the experience to know better, you'll counsel your prospective client that a conversation is necessary, and if they don't agree, you'll know there is little reason to send a proposal.
Awareness and Learning to Sell
The fastest way to improve your results in sales is to gain an awareness of the common mistakes salespeople make because they lack the experience, confidence, and competencies to create greater value for their prospective clients. Over time, you will learn to lead your prospective client through the sales conversation instead of taking their direction.
Take your lessons where you find them. When something doesn't work, take note, and avoid repeating the same mistakes over time by doing what makes you uncomfortable until you no longer fear the conversations that will improve your results and create more value for your clients.