As a professional sales person and trainer, I've seen many “rookies” make mistakes when they are approaching new clients. What surprises me is when sales people with years of experience make those same mistakes too. The art of selling products and services has evolved. If you want to stand out from your competition, here are five mistakes to avoid:
1. Dominating the Conversation: One of the things sales people need to do is develop a good relationship with their clients. But this doesn’t mean jumping into a personal, warm, fuzzy conversation about yourself while the customer or prospect squirms in their seat waiting to get down to business.
Remember: You are there to solve their problems—not yours.
2. Dodging the Value Question: When clients ask questions about pricing, instead of answering, some sales people quickly respond with a question like, “Where do I need to be?” If the client tells the sales person about a lower price from the competition, instead of responding with information about the value of their own product, they say something like, “Oh, I don’t know how they can do it for that price.”
Remember: Everybody wants to know the price at some point. The first step is demonstrating the value of your products and services. Talk about pricing after you’ve presented the value your product or service brings to the table.
3. Not Knowing What Your Prospect’s Business is: Would you ever walk into a prospect’s office, sit down, and start the conversation with, “So, what do you do here, and how can I help?” In this age of “information overload,” there’s a very good chance your prospect knows about your business, and your competitor’s business.
Remember: Do your research ahead of time and you won’t embarrass yourself—or your company.
4. Not Following Up Promptly: After a meeting with a customer or prospect, the sales person says they will be sending over the additional information requested. The prospect waits and waits and waits, and then calls the sales person, but gets a lame excuse like, “What? You’re kidding. I’ll call the office to see what the holdup is.”
Remember: If you don’t take the time to follow through promptly, you’ve given your prospect time to look for another sales person who’s known for following through with their commitments.
5. Not Returning Phone Calls: It sounds simple, and it is, but there are sales people who don’t return calls. Or, they call back once and leave it at that. Believe me, it happens. Ignoring a request for information and help is one of the quickest ways to lose business.
Remember: Successfully engaging a new client might mean access to more business than you can ever imagine with referrals to business contacts, family members, etc. Your reputation for promptly returning calls will grant you top-of-mind access with both your customers and prospects.
Avoid these mistakes, and you’ll see your sales grow as your new and established clients regard you, and your product or service, as a valuable asset for their continued success.Alan Luoma is a Sales Coach and Speaker with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, and sales and product training. He holds key accounts with a national sustainable packaging company, is a motivational speaker, and provides sales training to individuals and groups. He is a member of the Hartford Springfield Speakers Network, Toastmasters, The National Speakers Association, and The New England Speakers Association. You can view his profile on LinkedIn, or contact him at Luoma@snet.net