Stop Shooting Yourself in the Foot

Selling is difficult enough without going around shooting yourself in the foot all the time. Here are ten career-limiting mistakes typical salespeople make, along with some possible solutions.

Mistake #1: Poor organizational skills.

Most salespeople are born with a birth defect. The organizational gene in their DNA structure is missing. They resist all attempts to be organized.

Solution: Discipline yourself to get organized. Go into periodic organizational frenzies. Every two or three months stop whatever you’re doing and organise your desk, your customer records, your sales records, your literature, etc.

Mistake #2: Lack of motivation and/or enthusiasm.

Salespeople go up and down more times in a day than most other people do in a month. These wild emotional swings come with the territory. You leave one good call only to walk into a couple of bad ones. You’re on your own out there and you need to keep yourself up.

Solution: Remember the power of PMA (positive mental attitude). Use self‑talk to unleash your inner power. When the poop hits the fan, think about the good times and good sales calls. Remember, everything has a time limit, even the bad times.

Mistake #3. Not making enough calls.

While selling may not be a numbers game, there is a game of numbers that pertains to selling. For example, if you don’t call on enough people, you won’t make enough sales. Most salespeople don’t know how many suspects they need to contact to generate the necessary number of prospects that are required to make enough sales to make quota. Put another way, most salespeople don’t make enough calls because they don’t know how many calls they should be making.

Solution: Keep personal performance numbers. Know your closing ratio. Go back over your contact records to see how many calls you have to make before you close one sale. Use that number to make sure you’re calling on enough people to make your quota.

Mistake #4. Failing to qualify.

A lot of salespeople would rather spend time with a poor prospect than no prospect and will waste time by not qualifying a person before they start selling to him. Another reason salespeople don’t bother to qualify a prospect is because they think that “telling” is “selling” and all they have to do is talk long enough and the prospect will buy.

Solution: Understand that people buy for their reasons, not yours, and the qualifying process is where you find out what those reasons are. Learn to ask open-ended questions and draw the prospect out. Find out what they want and why they want it.

Mistake #5. Poor product knowledge.

Too many salespeople read their product literature and then become nothing more than a talking catalogue. They get so full of facts and features they forget that people buy the product of the product‑‑benefits.

Solution: Remember that your prospects all listen to radio station WIFM‑FM (What’s In it For Me‑‑For Me) and you need to broadcast on the prospect’s frequency by telling them what your product or service will do for them, not what it is.

Mistake #6. Poor prospecting skills.

Lots of salespeople are unclear of just who is a good prospect, so they end up with poor prospects that won’t buy. The second reason for this problem is that salespeople forget that prospects don’t just walk in the door. You have to go out and get them. This means doing cold calls and most salespeople would rather stand under a cold shower, fully dressed, tearing up $100 bills, than make cold calls.

Solution: Know “who” is a good prospect for your products or services. Learn to “disqualify” people and stop wasting time with PWOTs (Potential Waste Of Time). Find ways to warm up cold calls

Mistake #7. Low persistence.

Salespeople suffer from poor discipline and forget that 81 percent of sales are made after the fifth call. Unfortunately, 84 percent of salespeople quit after the third call.

Solution: Remember the magic number (5) and hang in there until the prospect either buys or dies.

Mistake #8. Mishandling objections.

Many salespeople confuse questions with objections and will turn a simple request for more information into an objection-handling disaster. They are also unprepared to handle their most common objections.

Solution: The average salesperson probably sees four to five common objections and needs to develop professional responses to each of these. For example, if you often hear “I’m happy with my current supplier”, or “Your prices are too high”, then be ready to handle those objections in a professional manner, not stumble around like a clown with a mouth full of marbles.

Mistake #9. Failing to close.

They’re afraid to ask for the business and that’s all “closing” is–asking for the business. They fear the “no!” Apparently “nos” are eight to ten feet tall and made from solid concrete and if a “no” falls on you it will crush you to death. I’ve never had a salesperson die from getting a “no” but I’ve seen two who had heart attacks when they received a “yes” they didn’t expect!

Solution: Develop one or two closes that you’re comfortable with and practice them until they become second nature. My personal favorite is the Negative Direct Question Close (“Is there any reason why we shouldn’t go ahead with this?”). Learn to use trial closes to test the water before jumping in with your close.

Mistake #10. Failing to work harder and smarter.

Too many salespeople look for the easy way to sales success. It doesn’t exist. Everyone wants to work smarter, including me, but it’s the ones who work smarter and harder who will come out successful in the end. Selling is not a lazy person’s career.

Solution: Remember, selling is not a nine-to-five job. Start early, finish late, and sell like hell in between.

Stop Shooting!

So, keep your gun in your holster and avoid these mistakes.