Cash flow is crucial to business success. And the principal driver of cash flow is sales. If you are not selling your product, you aren’t generating any revenue. It’ll only be a matter of time before the costs of running the enterprise spiral out of reach. While the rationale for sales growth is straightforward and easy to understand, sales execution is a whole different ball game.
If every business was a sales success, then there’d be far fewer business failures than there are today. Selling is no walk in the park, but there are pitfalls you should be on the lookout for. Here’s a look at these mistakes and the things you can do to avoid them.
1. Selling to the Wrong Audience
You have limited time to pitch your product and close a sale. If you don’t concentrate your time on the people that actually need your product, you’ll waste substantial time and resources. Not every sales opportunity is of equal value.
Develop a system of prioritizing prospects that are more likely to buy. For instance, run a sales analysis to better understand where your past customers have come from. Click here for a deeper look at how sales analysis can help you sharpen sales focus.
Overall, whether it’s you approaching a prospect or them coming to you, have a mechanism of qualifying them for your product. Qualifying could be by product type, budget, location, and more. Making this clear from the start will make sure neither your own, nor your audience’s time is wasted.
2. Saying Yes All the Time
This is one of the most common mistakes for startups and rookie salespersons. You try to do everything in their power to close the sale. That includes acquiescing to every customer request. In reality, saying yes to everything is one of the fastest paths to business failure.
It’s all a slippery slope. When a customer realizes that you always say yes, they’ll begin doubting your sincerity or they’ll keep demanding for more. Chances are, each new request will cost you money. Eventually, any profit you sought to make from the sale will be completely eroded. Your inability to deliver will see your reputation go down the drain.
Instead, be respectful and open-minded but realistic and decisive. If a request is doable without jeopardizing your profitability, you should say yes. If it’s unreasonable and unprofitable, don’t hesitate to say it cannot be done.
3. Providing Too Much Information
As the one selling, you likely are much better versed in the product than your prospects are. You are probably far more informed about related products too. While this information is an asset, too much of it can be an unintentional hurdle to your sales success. The more information you share with someone, the greater the danger that they become confused and disillusioned.
Practice getting your message across quickly, concisely, and simply. Your objective is to close the sale and not impress the prospect with sophisticated terms and technical jargon. When you pitch to a customer, only discuss what they want and need to know to make their decision. What might sound like a series of impressive tidbits could just bore your potential customer to the point of losing interest.
4. You Are Too Pushy
There’s just something impressive about listening to someone who eases into a conversation and presents their position in a logical, coherent, and persuasive way. On the other hand, most people are repulsed by individuals who seem to try too hard to sound convincing.
There’s no question that selling is about persistence. Still, there’s a thin line between persistent and pushy. Best practice? Adopt a casual approach and act like your success won’t depend on closing that one sale. Instead, let the product qualities you enumerate ultimately be what compels the prospect to buy.
5. Guessing the Answer to a Client’s Question
In a perfect world, every interaction a salesperson has with a prospect would end in a successful sale. In the real world, this doesn’t happen. Not even close. Yet, in their race to close a transaction, salespersons may rush to provide answers to questions they do not know or understand.
Often, a sales representative does not possess deep technical knowledge of the product. They will, therefore, from time to time find themselves out of their depth when a prospect poses certain questions. It may be convenient to make things up in the hope that the prospect won’t follow up later. This is a catastrophic mistake that could completely erode any trust the prospect had placed in you, your product, and your business.
Deliberately providing an incorrect answer is, in fact, self-defeating since it undoes all the time, money, and effort you had invested in closing the sale. If you do not have certainty about the answer to a prospect’s question, be upfront about it. State that you may need to refer to a colleague.
That’ll boost your credibility and show you are committed to honesty even when it doesn’t favor you. The prospect may not buy, but they’ll be more open to hearing from you in the future.
6. Failing to Close
You’ve done the groundwork and ticked all the right boxes. Your conversation with the prospect is leading up to a certain sale but to your surprise, the conversation ends inconclusively. Why? Well, maybe you didn’t actually ask your prospect to buy.
Salespersons will sometimes assume that, because the prospect is taken in by the pitch, they will automatically buy the product. That hardly happens, though. Remember, the prospect has probably already interacted with one or more businesses selling a competing product.
Asking the person to buy is neither an act of desperation nor is it pushy, as long as you do it tactfully. A direct ask can only go so far and is something you can, realistically, do no more than once per conversation session. Instead, egg on the prospect toward closure. Remind them of the value they can start to enjoy immediately they buy. For example, suggest that the product is a great fit for their requirements and that you are ready to get it to them as soon as the same or the next day.
Selling is an art. Fortunately, everyone can improve the effectiveness of their sales. Knowing what to do is definitely vital. But you are going to make plenty of headway by just knowing the mistakes you should steer clear of.