It’s February and love is in the air. Unfortunately this winter, love is accompanied by nasty flu viruses and dry, chilly breezes. Wahoo! Never fear. While you’re on the mend Netflix officially has the movie classic, How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days. It got us thinking, what are some fatal missteps for salespeople that drive prospects away?
We’ve all been sold to in some way. It’s a great experience. Salespeople should try to be on the other side of a sale as much as possible. It gives you perspective and empathy for the people and companies that you work with. As a general rule of thumb, it’s easier to spot others’ shortcomings than it is to see them in ourselves. Point being that much of sales is common sense and a little psychology. We can always identify these things when they’re happening TO us, but sometimes it can be difficult to catch when you’re the guilty party.
Cross-reference your interactions through your sales process with these faux pas:
How To Lose a Sale in 10 Days (or less)
There is so much noise. How do you stand out? What sets you apart? Why should anyone invest time talking with you? How do you start the conversation? Are you focused on you or are you focused on them? Right from the beginning, your approach should be to interrupt the normal flow. “Hi! This is Brooke from Kicks Digital Marketing, I was hoping you had a few minutes today to chat about your marketing strategy.” It’s not strong enough. It’s predictable. Predictability breeds, a “thanks but no thanks” polite response.
Overstepping right out of the gate.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Earn that trust. Earn the right to advise, don’t come to the first meeting drafting prescriptions without proper diagnostics. Trust isn’t built overnight. You don’t get married on the first date and chances are you aren’t signing an annual contract with a hello either. You have to monkey paw your way there. It’s especially important in foundational stages to do what you say you’re going to do. If you’ve asked for 5 minutes, at 5 minutes you should stop. Put the other person in the driver’s seat if they wish to continue. Doing what you say you are going to do goes a long way for all DiSC profiles.
Not fully communicating outcomes.
Knowing where you stand with a person or a situation is a very powerful thing. It provides context and clarity for both parties. A salesperson and prospect are no exception. Every exchange should begin by discussing and agreeing upon the intended outcome of that touchpoint. For example, if a discovery conversation concludes and there is a meeting scheduled to discuss “next steps” the salesperson should verbalize the intentions and outcomes of the next meeting prior to setting the meeting. The prospect should be in agreement. Once that meeting begins, a recap should be provided. This way there are no questions about where you are in a process or where you stand as a salesperson. Proper expectation setting starts at the very beginning of a partnership and is demonstrated throughout a relationship.
Assuming not clarifying.
As experienced salespeople we regularly see situations where we can predict an outcome; however, your prospect might not see things so clearly. Perhaps the connection isn’t an easy one to make, or perhaps you’re drawing the wrong conclusion altogether. Clarification can go a long way in properly identifying and prescribing a solution. Specifically, when you’re identifying points of pain, ask questions that go 3 layers deep so that you’re truly understanding the full picture. If you don’t, you risk addressing something that the prospect doesn’t see as a problem.
Blowing your budget step.
For many salespeople, budget is taboo. They tip-toe around the subject like it’s something to be feared. Be confident and consistently discuss money. Understand that there is a difference between budget ability and commitment. In order for your prospect to find their way to client status, they must have both the ability to buy and a commitment to solve the solution that you’re selling. These issues should be treated separately.
Skipping dress rehearsal.
If you’re cruising through the sales process, it’s worth pumping the breaks to ensure long-term sustainability. Something will go wrong. I repeat, something will go wrong. A product will break, a payment will hit twice, something will not go as planned. That’s life. In order to avoid having your new contract being lit on fire, talk about what happens if X, Y, or Z happens. As you’re discussing these theoreticals, you’re also training your new client how they should react. This is how you effectively transition.
For good measure, here are some of my other thoughts:
• I dislike emails that start with “just touching base”. You shouldn’t have to touch base out of the blue, because you should always know your next step. The sales process should just be following rules that each party set.
• Adhere to timeframes. If you set aside an hour, respect the hour. Utilize that hour. Don’t spend too much of it on idle chit-chat.
• If you ask someone to meet for coffee, you should pay for their coffee.
• No is always an option. A salesperson should always present ‘no’ as one of the outcomes and truly be okay with it.
• Treat the partnership with respect. Too often there is a clear winner in many “agreements” work to make sure that agreements are equitable and valuable to both sides. Morality rules.
Happy Love Month.