If your company sells anything, whether it be a product or a service, your sales staff is critically important to your success. Throughout the day, the sales team is speaking with incoming leads, and even reaching out to outbound leads. They must have ample knowledge of what they’re selling, but perhaps more importantly, they need good sales practices.
If they’re rude, not dedicated, or giving out incorrect information, not only are they not going to close the sale, but they might also do harm to the reputation of your company as a whole.
As a result, it’s imperative that members of the sales staff purge any of the following sales practices.
1. Giving up
One of the easiest ways to lose a sale is to give up after a few tries. According to our data, “leads close after 9 or more follow-ups, yet sales reps give up after 1 or 2 follow-ups 44% of the time.”
While it might be time consuming, sticking with a potential client is necessary. “Only 2% of sales occur when two parties meet for the first time” yet nearly half of all sales people are giving up after that meeting. One trait of a sales superstar is persistence, but some people take that to mean only on a call-by-call basis.
Unfortunately, that’s not enough. If the potential client isn’t sure about the viability of your product after the first call, that’s completely OK, and in fact a likely outcome. Most people aren’t going to commit after one call, as they need time to weigh their options and explore other solutions. This is where the work comes in. You need to follow up, keep explaining what your product can offer, and move towards a final conclusion.
2. Sales scripts
No two people, and no two companies are exactly the same. They might have similarities, but that doesn’t mean everyone should be treated identically. If you don’t listen to what they’re saying, and you try to pitch the exact same message, it’s not going to work. You’re a salesperson, not a telemarketer. You don’t need a script. Customize your pitches to what the customer actually needs by having a real conversation.
If someone keeps asking you a question about how your service increases productivity, but you keep trying to sell them on the price point, the customer isn’t learning anything. They have certain questions that need to be answered before they can consider buying anything, and it’s a waste of everyone’s time if you try to stick to a sales script.
3. Cold calling
Cold calling is dead, long live cold calling. “With the amount of information at your fingertips today, there is no excuse to make a phone call without any knowledge about who you’re calling. It’s a waste of time, and frankly – ineffective. Only 2 percent of calls actually result in an appointment”
You have time to research the ins-and-outs of every company, and exactly who you’re going to speak with, so make sure you do it. If you start a phone call asking who you’re speaking to, and what the company does, you’ve likely already annoyed that person. They didn’t ask to be contacted, and even worse, there doesn’t seem to be a tangible reason as to why they’ve even been contacted.
4. Failing to follow up
Did you tell someone you’d return a call or get back to them at a specific time? Then do it. Punctuality is greatly appreciated. Nobody likes waiting around for a call they were supposed to receive, or for a salesperson to finally show up for a meeting.
Heavy traffic or unexpected delays aren’t excuses. They might explain why you were late, but that doesn’t make it OK. You likely won’t guarantee a sale by showing up 30 minutes early, but you very well could lose one by being 30 minutes late.
5. Leading with your product
This goes hand in hand with using a sales script. Don’t lead with your product, lead with the customer.
Unless you are Apple, you’re not Apple. Trying to open an opportunity by leading with your product mostly causes resistance. It also makes it appear that what you sell is a commodity.
Find out what they’re looking for. Assess the relationship. Will both parties make a good fit? The answer to that might be no, which is fine. While a sale might not happen, the experience you provide them with will stick, and could lead to referrals, or at the least, positive feedback.
6. Treating customers poorly
This should be common sense, but in the digital age, it’s infinitely more important than it was just 10-15 years ago. Before the internet was accessible in everyone’s pocket, a bad sales experience was only known to the people on the call. That’s no longer the case however.
With countless review systems and social media, just a few bad reviews can have serious consequences for a business. Obviously a company like Comcast can take a hit, but look at what was on the front page of Reddit just a couple days ago.
One bad experience led to 800 words from a customer bemoaning the poor treatment they received. This is hardly unique, as Comcast has won (lost?) the worst company in America award twice in the last six years. Fortunately for Comcast, and unfortunately for customers, there’s not a lot we can do to get rid of them at the moment. But for a smaller company that’s just getting its legs, an article like that could spell the end.
7. Making promises you can’t keep
Did you tell a potential client that your product could do x, y, and z? Then it better be able to do all those things. Sure, making the sale is what you’re trying to accomplish, as you have quotas to hit and commissions to make, but if you make a sale based on faulty information, you’re going to be in a world of trouble.
There aren’t too many things worse than lying in an attempt to win business. Lies of omission aren’t any less harmful, which is why you have to set the right expectations, even when you feel that it will threaten your deal.
Just look at what’s going on in the U.K.. One of the strongest reasons for leaving the E.U., according to the Leave campaign, was that it would save the U.K. £350 million per week, and allow them to funnel those resources into their own National Health Service.
Now it turns out that not only was the £350 million figure not accurate, but neither was their promise of sending that money to the NHS. Trying to get someone to vote for your campaign, or buy your product with misleading information is never a good idea, and it will come back to haunt you.
8. Trying to hide the negatives of your company.
During a sales call, a potential customer is naturally going to ask a lot of questions. Most of them might be specific to their company, and why they should buy your product, but they could also turn the tables and ask a question about your company.
“61 percent of prospects read online reviews before making a purchasing decision. 72 percent consult Google, and return 2 or 3 times to dig up more information. Point being – your potential customers are doing A LOT of research online before they get to you. They know who you are, where you stand in relation to competitors, and why your company, product or service is worth considering. They also know what problems your past customers have had.”
Put more simply, don’t lie to make your company seem like it hasn’t had issues. Every company has. Whether it’s a database outage, or poor communication, there’s always something negative. No company has a flawless track record across the board. So when that one failing is brought up, don’t try and sugar coat it. Tell them what happened, how the issue has been addressed, and why it won’t happen again. Giving closure will afford them a good state of mind.
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