In any profession, knowing what not to do is often as important as knowing what to do. Sales is an intensely interactive profession, which means that you have to use your eyes, ears, and brain before you use your mouth. Tone-deaf sales pitches and responses are ultimately a waste of time – yours and your prospects’. Practicing the professional sales skills that turn a lead into a customer is, of course, critical. But so is knowing what not to do. Here are some common ways sales professionals turn prospects off and jeopardize the possibility for a sale.
Not Owning Problems
People don’t want to hear excuses. While it’s entirely possible that the warehouse lost a shipment, you can’t excuse it with your customer by telling them it’s not your problem. To that customer, you’re the face of the company, so it is your problem. You probably hate hearing excuses too, so instead, own the problem, offer a straightforward apology and tell the customer what you’re going to do to fix it. Owning and solving problems is one of the most valuable professional sales skills.
Obviously, talking is a major part of what you do, but opening your mouth before using your eyes and ears can turn a prospect into a former prospect. Strategic communications expert Steve Cody says it perfectly: “Top salespeople know there’s a reason nature equipped them with two eyes, two ears, and one mouth. They use their eyes to observe a prospect’s nonverbal prompts. They open their ears to listen to what a customer does and doesn’t say … The three best salesmen I’ve ever met excel at looking and listening before speaking.”
Saying, “Trust Me” or “To Be Honest”
These phrases do nothing for your prospect and indicate that one, you may believe others to be untrustworthy and two, you haven’t been honest all along. Business consultant Joellyn Sargent puts it bluntly, stating that whenever she hears the words “trust me,” it’s “an immediate alert that the next thing I will hear is a lie.” And “to be honest” can make your prospect wonder what you’re hiding, or what you’ve been hiding. Proven professional sales skills always include honesty.
Applying Artificial Pressure
Telling a prospect that if he or she doesn’t pounce on your offer right now the deal is off the table is both desperate and ineffective. The prospects you want to turn into clients are not necessarily the ones who will give in to artificial pressure. Buyers and decision-makers with experience know that giving in to sales pressure is counterproductive, and are likely to balk if you tell them it’s now or never. Your professional sales skills should not include high pressure tactics.
Not Doing Your Research
When you do your homework about a new prospect, you not only learn how your product or service can help them, you save both parties time. While there is nothing wrong with asking more questions from a prospect to draw a more accurate bead on what you can do for them, you shouldn’t open a conversation asking what it is they do. You’re supposed to know something about your prospects so you can determine if you can do business together in an efficient manner.
Making It About You and Not Them
Ultimately, the mistakes listed above are ways sales professionals make the sales process about them, rather than about the customer. Pressuring a potential customer, questioning their decision-making skills, interrupting them, or making excuses for a problem after the sale shows them that the process isn’t about what’s in it for them, but about what’s in it for you. And that’s a sure way to turn a warm prospect cold. Professional sales skills that work are ultimately about the good of the customer.
Don’t Tell Me What’s In It For You
Sales professionals need a solution-oriented approach to selling that puts the customer and the customer’s needs front and center. Solution-oriented sales skills are what consultative sales skills are all about. CSC offers consultative sales certification coaching in a comprehensive program. Not only do sales professionals work on core competencies, they receive individual coaching and better still, apply the skills they learn in their work. The result is professionals who develop opportunities to build up skills that need improvement, and who polish their strong skills so they can deliver measurable improvement in their sales effectiveness.
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