Sloppy Selling Basics– Mistakes, Blunders, Bungles…Comedy of Errors, Missteps– Primary Reason for Lost Sales…

Have heart selling! The truth is, those that embrace their blunders, mistakes… have much more success in life, business, selling… than those who don’t.

Unintentional blunders, mistakes, errors… happen in selling, and they can cost the sale, and in some situations the company. Even the very best sales professionals make selling mistakes, blunders… from time-to-time. There are many reasons for bungling… but, think about this: Do those reasons simply become excuses for sloppy selling basics or are we just lean on selling basics… 

When we blunder in selling we lose opportunities, we lose sales, and we lose customers. Mistakes in selling are common, for example: Not being prepared. Talking too much. Giving customers information that’s irrelevant. Neglecting to ask for the sale. Failing to prospect for new opportunities…

According to Kelley Robertson; there are four common errors made by sales people: Pitching too soon: Showing-up and throwing-up is not an effective way to sell, yet many sales people still launch into a pitch without fully understanding the customer. Whereas, a few thought-provoking questions quickly help determine if and when a pitch is appropriate. Poor pitches: Make sure that every sale presentation is accurately targeted to each customer– focus on customer’s issues… Poor communication: Communicate the real value proposition in terms that resonate with the customer. Lack of Focus: Laser-sharp attention on relevant customer issues. 

Although mistakes will happen, most can be avoided with a little planning, forethought, and focus. Don’t let sloppy mistakes jeopardize sales. According to Charles Cooper; even seasoned professionals make mistakes from time-to-time, but they learn from their blunders…

According to Kelley Robertson; I still remember the first two sales calls I made, although they were almost two decades ago. One was a cold call and the other was a face-to-face meeting. I think I made every mistake in the book, but these are the two that stand out the most.

Sales Blunder #1: I was new at selling and had to make sales appointments, but never cold called before, so I read the book ‘Cold Calling Techniques That Really Work’ and studied the principles, then made a first call. It was disaster! After stumbling through my opening statement– the prospect growled and said: What are you selling? Where upon, I threw away my script and quickly launched into my natural voice… Then, after a few seconds of silence the prospect yells-out: Not interested! And, I hear a loud click in my ear…

As I hung up the telephone, I thought: This book is crap! But, I re-read it again, and eventually realized that I had overlooked a key point… It said: Verbally practice and rehearse the opening so it sounds natural and comfortable. Duh I had mentally thought through the opening, but when the prospect answered the phone, it was the first time I actually had verbalized the opening, aloud. No wonder I stumbled and sounded like an idiot– practice, practice, practice… Sales..

Blunder #2: Later that week I managed to secure a face-to-face sales appointment. I was prepared– nice glossy presentation and I arrived for my appointment a few minutes early. Now, again– I made another ‘big’ sales blunder. After initial introductions, I sat down with the manager and spent 5 minutes telling her about– my business, background, products…

I talked non-stop for about 15-20 minutes (it quite possibly could have been longer but that’s what I recall!)– I walked her through each and every page of my slick presentation… I didn’t ask any questions. And, that wasn’t all– I hate to admit; once I finished the pitch I just sat there wondering– what to do next. Then, the prospect said: This sounds good, and she didn’t say anything else…

After several moments of uncomfortable silence, I gulped and meekly asked: So, would you like to go ahead with this? Her response was: I will get back to you! Needless to say that was the end of it… Now, when I look back on these situations I realize how much I have learned since then. Here are my five lessons: 1. Be prepared. 2. Focus on the customer. 3. Spend less time talking and more time asking questions. 4. Ask for the sale– it sounds simple but I am continually surprised how few sales people actually do. 5. Be ready for next steps. The school of hard knocks is a great teacher and I firmly believe that everyone can improve their results if they take the time to learn the lesson contained in each bungled sales call.

In the article Top Sales Mistakes by allbusiness.com writes: Sales can be a tough game even in the best of times. And with the recent economic downturn, it has been tougher than ever to get your foot in the door with sales prospects. Every salesperson, regardless of his or her industry, product, or skill level, makes mistakes from time-to-time. To keep from missing out on sales opportunities, avoid these basic sales blunders:

  • Not Listening: Do not just listen to what the customer is asking for; look past that to find out what they need. Listen to your customers, identify their specific needs– fill them if you can, and tell if you cannot.
  • Overselling: Eagerness and determination are important traits for a salesperson to have, but you must learn how to temper this energy with an awareness of when– too much is too much. A nonstop sales pitch leaves your potential customer with no room to make an intelligent decision. Know when to stop selling.
  • Being Unprepared: When you are making a sale you must know and understand details about– what you are selling and what the customer might need.
  • Jumping Straight to the Sale: Do not rush the sale. Educate the customers about what you are selling, and educate yourself about what the customer is looking to accomplish.
  • Not Closing the Sale: This is flip side of the previous mistake. It’s important to guide the customer from start-to-finish when selling, and closing the sale is the key final step.
  • Going Off Topic: Some salespeople overdo the need for relationship-building with excessive chatter. Others spend an inordinate amount of time on irrelevant information. While you do want to build a relationship, the goal is to make the sale.
  • Judging Books by Their Covers: Salespeople routinely miss sales because they prejudge their customers. Do not let your preconceptions about– race, creed, gender, ethnicity, or appearance stand in the way of making a sale. The customer you were quick to dismiss may surprise you by becoming your top customer.
  • Not Following Up on Leads: Just because someone does not buy immediately, doesn’t mean they will not be interested later. Follow-up is a critical aspect of sales that is often neglected.
  • Failing to Prospect for New Customers: Even when sales are at their peak, you must  devote time to looking for more customers. No company can survive without a constant influx of new or repeat customers…

In the article Deal-Killing Mistakes by Mark Stevens writes: Everyone in every career makes mistakes and salespeople are no different. Sales blow-up for many reasons, but there are three reasons that top my list. Understand these ahead of time will increase your performance exponentially: Guaranteed. The deal-killers:

  • You Ask For The Business: Old school, ‘Willy Loman-style’ sales hack– advice says; you should ask the customer or the prospect for the business: No. No. No… You are not a peddler. You are not a beggar. You are a problem solver, solution provider, advisor, consultant, expert and educator. Does your lawyer get on his hand and knees for your business? Does your doctor? ‘No.’ And, neither should you. This isn’t a matter of ego or pride. It’s about being a sales professional. When you ask for the business: You appear desperate and unprofessional– relying on stunts as opposed to creating a compelling value proposition. When you instill trust, you don’t have to ask for the business; your customers will ask you… Reminding yourself of your customer’s ‘patterns’, before you  go in the room is critical. Replay– the movie of your last meeting in your mind– before you enter the room. These Zen-like mental  exercises provides you strong and reliable signals and patterns for how to conduct yourself this go-round. For example: Three times a year, I have lunch with the CEO of a major insurance company. I never bring anything to sell; there are no proposals in hand, no hidden agenda. Sure, I would love to walk away with a commitment for a major project, but that’s nowhere near top of my mind. The CEO will ask me what is new at my firm, what interesting things are we up to… He always starts off that way. So, armed with the knowledge of his patterns, I prepared myself to talk about the most compelling, innovative and intriguing work we are doing. These lunches may not be the biggest engagement or most profitable, but they are the most captivating. It’s a dynamic that the ‘ask for the sale’ hustlers don’t comprehend, once you captivate customers, they begin selling themselves on you. They’ll think: Well, why don’t you do the project? In essence, they do the selling for you…
  • You Set An Annual Sales Goal: From the standpoint of conventional wisdom, this goal-setting exercise makes sense. But look at it closely and you will see it is self-defeating. Here’s why: It puts an artificial ceiling on your expectations. Why aim for $500,000, $1 million, $10 million in sales when you can shoot for the moon? It puts  pressure on you, leading to desperation. You’ll force the issue with customers, and no one wants pressure from a salesperson. I have witnessed this scenario hundreds of times: a salesperson sets a personal quota, starts falling short and its desperation time in Dodge City. Desperation is a virtual assurance you will fall short. Far better to go out everyday with a goal– to educate, influence, and build trust. Then, dollars will come.
  • You Rely-On Referral Sources: Here, I said ‘rely-on’. Building a network of referral sources and having them recommend you to their friends… these are always good things. But, relying-on them is a big mistake. That’s because you pass control of your own destiny on to others, who ‘may or may not’ act on your behalf. There’s too much at stake for you to risk the ‘may not’.

The sad thing about selling is that so many people do it the wrong way. The great thing about selling is that so many people do it the wrong way. Avoid the killer blunders, mistakes… and you will excel…