by Leslie Goene
We all need to regularly spring clean our sales approach in order to function at our best. This means completing an inventory of how we interact with prospects and customers and getting rid of the strategies and selling tools that just aren’t working. After all, a key element of sales success is about accurately meeting the needs of our prospects and customers, which is hard to do if you’re surrounded by the clutter of outdated methods.
Here’s a list of the most common sales issues I see when coaching and consulting clients. By spring cleaning your approach, you can avoid making mistakes that stand in the way of closing new deals and retaining great clients.
1. Continually selling to no-potential buyers
Many salespeople fall into this trap. They hold onto a long list of poor-quality leads in their pipeline simply because they believe there’s safety to be gained with padded numbers. But bad leads will always be bad leads and will only suck time and resources out of your day. Either you qualify them in your pipeline, or you spring clean and send that list of bad leads to the garbage bin.
2. Sounding like a skipping record with old testimonials and references
Your testimonials must be current, compelling and credible! Prospects want to know if your products and services work in today’s marketplace — not the one from five or 10 years ago. This point applies similarly to references. You can’t reinforce your “social proof” in the eyes of prospects if your references can’t be reached, are retired, or simply shouldn’t be references at all.
3. Appearing too ‘scripted” on calls
Be objective. Are you using “salesy” sounding language in your script? Do you resemble a radio ad or a telemarketer? Are you talking more than listening on your first call to a prospect? If you answered “yes” to any one of these three questions, you need to spring clean your approach and start over. By all means practice and know what to say to potential buyers, but make sure it becomes internalized so you can then focus on personalizing the dialogue for each prospect.
4. Not creating a buying vision
Effective sales conversations need to emphasize the results your buyer is looking for. Make sure these discussions utilize real-life success stories, case studies and business-use situations that create a vision for your customer of how your solution will be implemented successfully in their company. And, as mentioned in Number 2, spring clean the older materials and replace them with current examples.
5. Choosing only one marketing channel to reach customers
To get attention and be memorable in the eyes of prospects and clients, you need to implement an omni-media approach. From websites to social media, from paper-based marketing to face-to-face meetings, invest time in ensuring your message is loud and clear across a number of platforms. Each marketing channel is capable of contributing something unique to the buying experience of your customers.
6. Caving when your client wants a lower price
Trash this approach! Instead, emphasize the value of what you offer to your customer and provide options rather than discounts. Also, position yourself uniquely in the market so you have less direct competition.
7. Depending on your client for referrals
Asking clients, “Who do you know?” in order to score referrals should be scrapped immediately. That question almost always yields disappointing results because it’s not specific enough and puts the onus on the customer to do all the work. That’s why the most common answer you’ll hear is: “No one comes to mind right now, but let me think about it and get back to you.” Guess what? You’ll almost never hear from them again. Instead, try this approach:
“I would like to meet Randy Smith at the XYZ Company. Can you help me with an introduction?”
“I’d love to meet your VP of Sales. Can you help me with an introduction?”
And here’s one more winning approach:
“I’m going to be calling Randy Smith at the XYZ Company this week. Can I tell him we’re doing great business together?”
8. Ignoring your leads
In my experience, I’ve found the vast majority of sales leads aren’t ready to close until there have been as many as seven follow-ups. If you regularly make fewer attempts to touch base with potential buyers, spring clean this approach. Instead, increase follow-ups by investing in the ubiquitous, omni-media approach mentioned in Number 5. Keep track of every attempt with CRM software or at least a spreadsheet. Skip relying on just sticky notes or Outlook!
9. Being unfocused
A few years ago, some salespeople could manage to eek out a living while being lazy — just sitting by the phone and waiting to take orders. In today’s economy, however, the only way to succeed is by being disciplined in how you work. It’s time to toss out those days without any scheduling and replace them with structured business hours in which prospect development and client contact are top priorities. Fill those empty blocks on your calendar with activities to build up your prospecting pipeline.
Make a decision right now to spring clean the methods that aren’t working for you. You can’t afford to be trapped any longer by a pile of business habits that prevent prospects from becoming customers — and new customers from becoming repeat ones! Look objectively at how you work and choose three things you can change right now.
For more from Leslie, Visit her website.