One of the most important skills you can learn is how to sell. Yet some of the smartest people avoid learning it, and some of the best colleges shun teaching it. Even so, many gravitate into sales positions as they advance in their careers and discover that is a necessary skill to succeed. Because they did not properly learn how to sell, they tend to make mistakes - losing business needlessly. In a previous post, I outlined the necessary steps for successful selling. In this one, I focus on 10 common mistakes sales people make to lose business. My hope is that those that are making these mistakes can improve their success rates by learning from them.
1. Don't ask the right questions or listen to the answers
Competent sales people ask the right questions and listen closely to the answers to find out what prospects need. Weak sales people start pushing their products before finding what the prospect wants.
2. Push products rather propose solutions
Weaker sales people push the features of their products to earn commissions rather than focus on solving prospect problems with product benefits. What's most ironic about this is that they often lack product knowledge. When buyers get the feeling that sellers don't know the products they are selling, they lose trust in the seller and the company and are not likely to buy.
3. Talk more and listen less
Less competent sales people insist on telling the prospect every thing the product can do rather than focus on the benefits prospects said they want. They tend to talk too much rather than listen and focus.
4. Give free advertising to competitors
Weaker sales people mention competitors before prospects ask about them. This gives competitors free advertising. What so many prospects do is as soon as they leave the sales presentation, they contact the competitors identified to see how they compare. The worst-case scenario is the prospect ends up buying from the competitor. If the sales person is lucky, the prospect will not like the competitive product as much, but may be prompted to search for other competitors. This will delay the sales cycle and postpone the sale.
5. Fail to identify objections
Untrained sales people often fail to recognize objections. They are oblivious to obstacles to the sale and continue talking about the product. When that happens, the buyers don't get the answers they need to feel comfortable buying.
6. Fail to fully answer objections
Even if sales people identify objections, too many do not properly answer them. They don't understand that that to make the sale, they have to answer objections to the buyer's satisfaction. Failure to do so will lengthen the selling process and even cause buyers to either not buy or buy from competitors that do a better job of answering their objections.
7. Fail to support answers with credible proof
Since good sales people know that the sales profession is not widely trusted by buyers, they provide independent, credible 3rd party proof to support their answers. Proof often comes in the form of articles written by recognized authorities or data that has been compiled by respected sources.
8. Miss buying signals
Less capable sales people miss buying signals, which are closing opportunities. They also miss rejection signals and objections because they are too busy talking rather than listening and understanding what these signals mean and how to react to them.
9. Fail to ask a closing question
Fifty percent of people that call themselves sales people fail to even ask a closing question because (1) they fear rejection or (2) never learned how to close a sale. Great sales people know that it is not always easy to know when the prospect is ready to buy so they employ trial closes to either (1) close sales or (2) identify more objections.
10. Fail to follow up with prospects and customers
Once they generate leads, too many sales people do not follow up on them. Even worse, once they close sales, sales people do not follow up with customers to assess if they (1) are satisfied or (2) have any friends or colleagues that might also be interested in buying.
While there are so many more reasons that sales are not made, the above ten are some of the most common. I hope this post will help you recognize these issues and fix them so you can improve your sales. Best of luck.