There you are, talking to a prospect, making your pitch. It seems to be going well. And then the tell-tale signs of a dying sale begin to surface. The prospect falls silent. Their body language or tone of voice shifts from comfortable to guarded. Their attention wanders to something else or they become entirely hung up on price. And the grand finale? BOOM — they drop a competitor's name before making a quick exit.
Once you recover from the whiplash, you find yourself wondering — where the heck did that conversation go wrong? If you used any of the tactics below, it's not hard to find the answer.
Here are 5 easy ways to lose your next sale:
1. Call a prospect who's never heard of you.
For the love of sales...stop cold calling! Nobody likes an irrelevant, impromptu sales call in the middle of the work day or worse — at home during family time. It’s invasive, rude and gives people a negative impression of your brand. Cold calling is just that — a frigid introduction between yourself and a prospect wherein you don’t have any idea who they are and, frequently, the feeling is mutual.
The Fix: Team Up With Marketing
When done correctly, inbound marketing generates a massive collection of data that rather eloquently defines exactly who you should be calling, what their pain points are, and what products or services interest them. But for this to work, sales must share customer and lead data with marketing, and marketing must use that data to create more targeted campaigns. Developing a Service Level Agreement together will significantly improve lead quality, and your sales staff can focus on making warm calls to qualified leads instead of dreaded cold calls.
2. Tell the prospect about your product or service instead of helping them.
Traditional selling styles involved weaving a persuasive argument for why a prospect had to have your product or service. The prospect got all of their information about a product or service from the salesperson. And many bad purchasing decisions resulted (which earned us sales people a bad rap).
When the internet became mainstream, everything about sales began to change. Consumers started doing their own research about products and services, and drawing their own conclusions. Today, more than half of the sales cycle is finished before a prospect even reaches out to a sales representative. They no longer need salespeople to give them information about a product or service. They’re avoiding us altogether!
The Fix: Be a Helper
Instead of telling consumers about your product or service (which is basically reiterating what they’ve already discovered on their own) salespeople need to focus on helping prospects make the best possible purchasing decision for their unique goals and challenges. Remember, truly helping someone involves sincerity and a degree of transparency. If your product or service isn’t the best fit, be honest and point them in the right direction. It may just earn you referral business or, at the very least, a good review online.
3. Treat your prospect like a stranger.
We all have rather impressive digital footprints these days. With the widespread use of social networks, there’s really no excuse for ever treating a prospect like a total stranger. But beyond what you can discover on your own, your marketing automation and CRM systems should be storing a goldmine of information about your leads. Marketing analytics have moved beyond demographic-based information and can provide in-depth insights based on prospect behavior, history and context.
The Fix: Do Your Research
Take time to learn where your prospect has been, and where they need to go next. In many cases, you should be able to dig up a substantial amount of demographic information as well as deep level data, such as what pages a prospect visited on your website, where exactly they are in the buyer’s journey, and specifically what products or services they’re searching using marketing automation tools like HubSpot.
Side Note: We get it . All this research can sound a little…borderline stalker-ish. The key to creating a personalized and meaningful experience for your prospect without giving them the creeps is knowing when they are ready for a sales conversation and respecting that timing. Once again — collaborating with your marketing team will help you identify this time frame based on the prospect's interaction with campaigns.
4. Talk too much.
We sales people love to talk. It’s in our nature! You don’t go into sales unless you genuinely enjoy interacting with others. But, as we’ve already established, your job is no longer to talk someone into a sale. It’s to educate them when needed and guide the purchasing process. That being said — if you’re hearing too much of your own voice, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to learn more about what your prospect needs to reach a purchasing decision.
The Fix: Be an Active Listener
Listening to a prospect, but simultaneously thinking about what you’re going to say next is not effective listening. Try active listening instead. Active listening is a mindful approach to hearing what someone else is saying that involves paraphrasing what they tell you and providing vocal or physical gestures that confirm your engagement in the conversation.
Be sure to also ask the prospect questions about their goals and chellenges that will help you determine whether your solution is the best fit. You'll learn valuable information about their pain points that could help you close the sale.
5. Blow smoke.
Buyers can sense baloney from miles away. Don’t exaggerate the benefits of your offering. Remember, they’ve already done their own due diligence, and it likely involved reading more than a handful of customer reviews and case studies.
The Fix: Give it To Them Straight
Be real with your prospects about the quality of your products or services. You’d be surprised how much more a prospect values trustworthy customer service over flawlessness. Unless of course you’re selling brain surgery…then you should be the definition of perfection.
Spare yourself the whiplash and avoid these sales slip-ups at all costs. If you settle the score with marketing, dig up data and stick to honest, personable, respectful sales tactics, your prospects will actually want to hear from you.
Take a look at this infographic from Sales For Life where 9 sales experts provide insights on how they think sales reps need to adjust to changing buyer behavior.