Mistakes to avoid if you want to close the deal.

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NOT KNOWING YOUR BUYER

SOLVING THE WRONG PROBLEM

WINGING IT 

NOT GOING DIGITAL

GETTING A LATE START

 NOT KNOWING ALL YOUR BUYERS

FOCUSING ON YOUR QUOTA

TALKING SMACK

BOUNCING EMAILS

GOING IT ALONE

UNDER-TRAINING

Not Knowing Your Buyer

Trying to sell to prospects who don’t fit your ideal customer profile is a losing strategy. If your industry or product isn’t right for the target, they’ll likely just be annoyed that you didn’t do your homework — and once irritated, they’ll be lost for any future business. So make sure you identify who your key customer is before you ever pick up the phone or send an email. 

Dan Perry, principal at the Sales Benchmark Index, a consulting firm, encourages sellers to ask 3 key questions 

WHO CAN YOU SOLVE THE BIGGEST PROBLEM FOR?
WHICH CUSTOMERS WILL CREATE THE GREATEST MARGINS FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
WHO WILL LOVE YOU MOST?
Once you’ve identified the target client profile, use company websites, industry reports, social media, and referrals to find leads that fall within that target buyer framework. Simply taking the time to research appropriate prospects will go miles toward increasing your close rate.
Focusing on groups of companies within your target audience saves research time. If your want to sell to independently owned and operated gourmet food companies, for instance, many will have similar painpoints that you can address.

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INTRODUCTION 

GROWTH FACTORS 

WINNING SERVICE 

MARKETING 

CONCLUSION

Solving the Wrong Problem

Oftentimes, salespeople who are proud of their products will focus on exactly that: a product, its features, and the business benefits it provides. But operating this way makes the seller appear out of touch with potential customers. 

Initial contact should offer relevant & intriguing value.

Once you've figured out how your product appeals to a prospect, don't try to close the deal immediately. "This happens in cold e-mails and cold calls," says sales productivity specialist Deb Calvert. "Sellers confuse offering a value proposition with offering a solution. The purpose of any initial contact is to earn more time with the proscpect. The only way to do so is by offering relevant and intriguing value."
Thinking those questions through and comping up with real,compelling answers that explain how your product can solve a prospects very specific problems will go a long way towards winning the sale.
According to social selling expert, Jill Rowley there are 3 key questions sales teams need to ask:
WHY MY PRODUCT OR SERVICE ?
WHY MY COMPANY?
WHY NOW?
FOR THIS SPECIFIC CUSTOMER
DISCOVER YOUR INTENT

Winging It

Going into a sales call without a plan is a mistake that novices and veterans both make, though for different reasons. Novice sellers may feel overwhelmed by their new job and unsure how to prepare for a sales call, while veterans may feel that they’re too experienced to bother with a dress rehearsal. But taking time to think strategically about your next sales call or meeting will help your interactions go more smoothly. 
Sales coach and trainer Alice Heiman advises that sellers next think through their desired outcome for the sales meeting, both for the prospect and themselves. What are the questions you should ask so that this prospect can be sure your product will be a good fit? Think of several and write them down. This is a key step and can be a handy reference sheet for the sales meeting. You may even want to rehearse the call or meeting with a colleague or a supportive friend or partner beforehand — practice can ease nerves for the actual meeting. 

BONUS TIP

Know your BATNA: Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.In other words, know what you hope to achieve as a minimum result if you don't get a closed deal out of the call.

Not Going Digital

Social selling expert Jamie Shanks, of Sales for Life, says he nearly went bankrupt as a business owner because he didn’t understand the power of an online presence. But once he became active on LinkedIn and Twitter and built a valuable website, his business soared. And the data shows he’s not alone. 
Shanks’ own team found that 75% of client learning happens before a senior sales executive does a discovery call, and that the average customer consumes 7.5 pieces of content before they purchase anything. 

Buyers do not contact suppliers until 57% of the buying journey is done.

That means that they’re defining the problem, forming opinions, coming up with the requirements for their desired solution, and researching potential products on their own, largely via the Internet, and all without the help of your sales team. 
CONTENT CONSUMPTION
THE AVERAGE CUSTOMER CONSUMES 7.5 PIECES OF CONTENT BEFORE PURCHASING ANYTHING
DIGITAL PRESENCE
A PRESENCE ON SOCIAL PLATFORMS IS ESSENTIAL FOR CONNECTING WITH YOUR CUSTOMER.
In today’s digitized world, product-based marketing that emphasizes features and benefits will no longer cut it. You need to be on the social platforms where your customers hang out (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter). The content on your websites should define the problem in a way that is relatable to the customer. Ideally, you want to create an “aha!” moment for them; once you do that, you can position your product as the best way to solve the problem. Research from Forrester shows that salespeople who help clients address their business challenges with a specific solution path close the deal 74% of the time. So if you want to win the sale, you need to connect with the customer long before they come to you. 

 

The beauty of online content is that it reveals where a customer is in the buying process. Shanks’ sales team sees customers respond to a call to action when they download a document from his website. Only when the prospect continues to consume more content, showing that he is invested, does the sales team pick up the phone and call. 

Addressing a business challenge with a specific solution path closes the deal 74% of the time.

Getting a Late Start

The customer buying process goes through specific stages: identifying the problem, evaluating the options, defining a solution, and making a decision. Most salespeople enter the process when customers are evaluating options. But sales experts say this is really too late. 

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Research from the Aberdeen Group shows that on average, organizations only close 16% of sales leads that are considered “sales-ready opportunities.” Businesses can improve that rate by getting into the buying game when the customer is still working to define the problem. In this stage, businesses can help customers reframe and solve their problems in the most effective way. 

Organizations only close .  .  .

Organizations only close 16% of “sales-ready opportunities.”

Not Knowing All Your Buyers

It’s an easy mistake: You connect with one prospect who seems fairly high up in the organization and appears interested in your product — until they stop answering your calls. There is a good reason for this: Businesses today rarely have a single individual making all the buying decisions alone. But if you don’t know who those other decision-makers are, then you will have a hard time turning your pitch into a sale. 

 

Heiman, the sales coach, recommends you ask upfront who else is involved in the decision-making process. Once you know, try to empathize with that buyer and think through that particular buyer’s eyes and how you would appeal to their concerns. Then target your sales pitch accordingly. A director of procurement is going to want to save money, while a CEO will likely want to grow her business. 

Ask the person you are talking to .  .  .

 

Ask the person you are talking to, “How can I help you get the rest of your team on board?” 

 

Focusing On Your Quota

Salespeople, understandably, constantly feel pressure to hit their numbers. And that can make them act imprudently. At the end of the month or the quarter, they might pressure the buyer, try to negotiate too quickly or discount the product (which has the negative effect of making the product lose value, not to mention being a terrible precedent that will be hard to backtrack from in the future). None of these are winning strategies — not for the seller and not for the buyer. If you’re focused on the pressure, it makes you out of sync with the prospect, and you lose sight of meeting the buyer’s needs. 
Was your win rate considered? How about the average sales price or sales cycle length, the industry growth, and your territory’s growth? You’re more likely to be smart and strategic when you feel less tension. 

 

If you can’t get the quota lowered, you may want to undertake some mindfulness or stress-reduction practices to help you stay calm and maintain perspective — because letting your anxiety shape the customer interaction in a negative way just won’t bring the results you want. 
NUMBERS PRESSURE

BONUS TIP

Avoid sales quota pressure in the first place by moving confidently for the close at the appropriate time. “Saying ‘Why don’t you think about this, and I’ll call you next week?’ instead of ‘Are you ready to move forward?’ suggests there must be something to think about,” says Calvert. 

Talking Smack

Alice Heiman, who trains sales teams, tells this story: “Someone I work with was talking to a friend about her client at a bar and the people from the company overheard. They walked up and said, ‘We heard you and we are telling our boss not to do business with you anymore.’” 

 

Big sales fail. 
It should go without saying that you shouldn’t speak poorly about your customers — ever. But if you do have a customer who gives you fodder to rant about them, consider why you’re working with them in the first place. If someone is a terrible fit for your product or even your particular personality, something needs to change. “You may need to have some serious conversations with them that may include your management,” Heiman says. “Make things right or part gracefully.” 

BONUS TIP

If you don’t actually like a potential customer, perhaps you should walk away, Rowley advises. If that’s not the best option, then do whatever it takes to develop empathy so that the other person no longer gets under your skin. 

Bouncing Emails

If your emails to a customer are bouncing because they’ve changed their job, consider it an opportunity to follow your client into a new company. But that’s not the only opportunity from an email bounce, says Craig Elias, the sales consultant.
Your original client likely replaced someone. Find out where that person went and pitch him. That’s a total of new opportunities. Then, once your original client has been replaced at her old company, pitch to that person. That’s a third opportunity. Finally, find out that person’s old company, and pitch to her replacement. Voila — four new opportunities from a single bounced email. 
When you make the call to these new prospects, don’t make the mistake of telling that person exactly what you do: such as “I sell really expensive tires.” “Use verbs to get the conversation going,” Elias says. Instead, try this “If I told you I could make you the preferred vendor in your industry, how much interest would you have?’” 

Going It Alone

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This is a tough one because it requires your management to buy into organizational change. But as a salesperson, you are incredibly valuable to the company and your insights matter. You won’t get far in sales if you’re playing the role of a hunter when you’re really better at farming. If you’re better at hunting new business, stick to that. If you’re good at upselling and cross-selling to existing customers, make that your brand. 
Likewise, your support team needs to be able to turn a quote around relatively quickly so that you can close the deal. Ask for investment in that arena if it’s slowing you down. Finally, make sure that your compensation plan aligns with the company’s goals. If you’re paid based on revenue, you won’t care about margin, and you’ll discount like crazy — maybe even lose a sale by cutting price so far that you remove value. Talk to your supervisor about aligning your pay structure with management’s goals. 

BONUS TIP

The key to convincing management to invest in new systems is showing them that it costs more not to. Keep good records, and present management with a compelling business case that shows losses on revenue that can be attributed to insufficient back office and systems support. 

Undertraining

It’s pretty hard to manage all your prospects, inbound emails, outbound calls, and a packed calendar by paper — or worse yet, to keep it all in your head. Having a system to keep proper tabs on your relationships can save time, help you prioritize leads, and boost sales productivity. Even small sales teams can benefit from a customer relationship management (CRM) system. 
Likewise, you can lose a sale by not being trained properly. If you ask your manager what to do and they respond that you should hit your number, swallow your pride and ask them to coach you more specifically. Remember, it’s their job to help you succeed, and it’s your responsibility to ask for help. Regardless of what type of manager you have, invest in self-training by reading books from leading sellers and attending trainings whenever possible. The investment in will be well worth the effort.
 

BONUS TIP

The key to convincing management to invest in new systems is showing them that it costs more not to. Keep good records, and present management with a compelling business case that shows losses on revenue that can be attributed to insufficient back office and systems support.