Bridge with gap

You should never give yourself an excuse to lose. Some years ago I remember a sharp B2B sales rep that was asked to compile a proposal for the president of a large services company, following a successful initial appointment. This would have been the largest sale this fellow had ever made career to date. Everything was ready to send except the cover letter he needed to write.

As he printed it, a nagging voice told him the president’s name was misspelled, in spite of it looking correct to him. He ignored the gut check and enclosed the letter and the proposal in an overnight envelope.

A week later he discovered his proposal was not chosen, and by the way, he did misspell the man’s name on the cover letter. Could that have been what cost him the sale? Well, in his mind he thinks so. I don’t know the answer, but it would have only taken him 30 seconds to verify the spelling.

OUCH! Many salespeople work hard without achieving the results they want. Often it’s due to something small and easily corrected, similar to what you just read, so today let’s look at some common errors and omissions I’ve observed that should be avoided or corrected if you are to become a selling professional.

1 – Telling – Too many salespeople think that the best sellers are the best talkers, but frankly the best sellers are great listeners and they realize silence really is golden. It’s true that you will listen your way into many more sales than you will ever talk your way into, so back off on the bloviating.

2 – Theorizing – A large percentage of reps think they have really done something by completing a few sales calls, but to really succeed you must apply the law of large numbers during your daily routines. Working smart must be coupled with working long and hard if you are to connect with enough buyers that will hear your story.

3 – Transgressing – Do prospects cut you off in mid-sentence or jump into the conversation every time you breathe? If so, stop boring them and begin using interesting examples as illustrations to make your points, with vivid benefits that grab attention and put buyers in the picture. If you’ll begin to ask open questions to get buyers to describe their needs and wants, they might just tell you!

4 – Training – The more you learn, the more you earn. Do you know enough about your competition and their offerings? Was your assessment thorough enough to help you really understand the current and desired states of your buyer’s situation, and how your solution fits into that? Are you satisfied you know enough about the buyer’s philosophy on value versus price? Stop being unaware and under informed. You can’t know too much.

I’m continually amazed when I see salespeople who refuse to devote time and resources back into their own professional growth and development. Top sellers invest in their futures, so if you want things to change, you must be willing to change. Stop chopping with a dull ax!

5 – Touching – The biggest cause of sales failure is not reaching enough new buyers. Prospect as if you were hired to be a creative seller who rarely receives company leads, whether that’s true or not. Familiarize yourself with all the creative sources and resources available in your marketplace, and then ask your sales manager to show you a picture of what it’s supposed to look like. Touch lots of future buyers every working day. With all of the responsibilities/demands put on you it’s easy to forget what actually makes you money. Prospecting and proposing are the only income producing activities you perform so make sure all other pursuits take a backseat to these two functions. Constantly ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now the best use of my time?”

6 – Troubleshooting – If you call a good realtor desiring to buy a house, she won’t immediately start showing properties, but will rather spend some time asking you various questions about location, size, construction type, age, style, price range, desired time of possession, etc. Her purpose is to qualify and profile you as a prospect so that neither of you wastes valuable time.

An old Chinese proverb states: If you tell people what you want them to do it greatly improves the chances they will do it. With that in mind, consider beginning your initial prospect conversations by asking, “If you don’t mind I’d like to ask you a few questions so that I will know better how I can serve you, fair enough?”

Stand out from the crowd7 – Tinkering – 20% of salespeople produce 80% of the sales. Therefore, be very careful who you listen to and insulate yourself from the non-producers. Do you really think the losers in your office want you to succeed? Stop tinkering with the turkeys in the barnyard and start flying with the eagles overhead.

8 – Targeting – Do you make proposals to employees who don’t have the power of the pen? Regardless how much help it gets, a donkey can’t win the Kentucky Derby. Avoid situations like these by asking up front who the decision makers are, to ensure that your time isn’t wasted with folks who aren’t empowered to make buying decisions.

All the areas discussed in this post may seem minor when viewed individually, but any one of them can make a big difference between Deal or No Deal. Take these comments to heart and fine-tune your processes so that your results will improve.

Oh, by the way, while you’re at it, double check the spelling of that guy’s name on the cover letter. It might be the most important 30 seconds you spend all month!

———I Don’t Want to Hire Doug! ———
Well join the club! Using Doug for live online coaching sessions doesn’t fit most company’s training plans, so consider ordering and using his materials and DIY. That’s why Doug developed a Leader Guide to accompany his book of sales training segments. Look them over for yourself HERE.
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