Do you want to sell more, faster, and make your sales more profitable? If so, you need to know about three major mistakes most salespeople and companies make!

Identify the leaks in your sales pipeline, and you can at last get the sales growth and results you deserve.

Mistake No.1: trying to sell to everyone

Managing directors and sales staff alike, we all have sales goals. One of these goals, of course, is the fulfilment of annual, quarterly and monthly sales targets, as I’m sure you know only too well!

And this pressure can spill over onto sales teams as a whole, who have to find any number of effective techniques, strategies and sales methods. That’s where stress causes some of them to make a serious strategic error: trying to sell to everyone.

Even with the best training and the best-tested sales processes, this road is sure to lead your sales staff straight towards failure.

The thinking behind this mistake goes like this: if I prospect 10 leads, I’ll get one / two / three customers (depending on sales efficiency and the current conversion rate).

To hit my monthly business targets, I need to find 10 customers. So if I prospect 100 leads, 10, 20, 30 (etc.) of them ought to end up as customers.

That’s why you’ll see so many sales reps staggering off into the field with huge address books, trying to sell their product to everyone and prospecting left, right and centre, setting up meeting after meeting. Does that sound familiar to you?

But that’s a sales strategy error. Here’s why:

  1. It’s true that prospecting to every Tom, Dick and Harry will win you a few sales. But most prospects you come across will either not want the product, not be appropriate for the product, or not know the company well enough to commit themselves.Result: a waste of the financial and material resources that go into prospecting, but also of the time you have available (which is often at a premium) to achieve results.
  2. The scatter-gun prospecting approach earns you lots more “No”s and plenty of rude responses. And if you’re not mentally and emotionally strong enough to take it, your confidence and motivation will take a knock. The outcome: less energy, fewer sales opportunities and fewer sales.
  3. Prospecting in this way often means forcing the sale (instead of assisting the customer towards purchasing). Many customers then find themselves with a product or solution they don’t need enough and won’t make full use of. They’ll be dissatisfied, and will run down the company’s reputation in one way or another, harming its future sales.

It’s vital to understand that “trying to sell to everyone by prospecting blind” isn’t the best strategy for generating business. Especially when you realise how easily Sales Intelligence lets us target the best prospects with cutting-edge techniques!

So why don’t you take the time to identify your ideal customer, so you can target them better?

You’ll reduce your prospecting costs, the length of your sales cycle… and you’ll generate more satisfied customers, who will recommend you and help to strengthen your business in the long term.

What could be better than that?

Mistake No.2: trotting out everything you know about the product without considering the customer’s needs

Imagine the following scenario: you’re a sales rep for a training company. It’s the time of year when you’re running a training seminar on effective stock management. You decide to go and meet some clients, with a view to bagging a few quick sales.

So you pick up the phone, call Mr Bloggs – one of your customers – and you tell him you’ve got an attractive business proposition to put to him, then make an appointment to see him. Piece of cake!

You put together a solid pitch, and set off for the meeting. Your customer gets the conversation started:

  • Mr Bloggs: “So, what have you got for me?
  • You: “This month, we’re offering you training on effective stock management. By the end of this training, your stock manager will know all the mistakes to be avoided. He’ll be familiar with best industry practice. He’ll also know what action plan he needs to implement. That plan will help you improve your cash flow while at the same time maintaining sufficient stock levels to avoid running out. It will…
  • Mr Bloggs interrupts you. “That sounds great, but I don’t need it.
  • You: “Oh! But I thought…

Now of course there are sales techniques which can help you recover from Mr Bloggs’s refusal. For example, if you were in this salesperson’s shoes, you could quickly reply: “I see, Mr Bloggs! And what exactly do you need right now? “.

But if you don’t bounce back by showing empathy and putting your sales pitch aside for a moment, you’ll end up stuck with a lost sale and a bad impression in the mind of a customer who trusted you enough to make an appointment with you.

What’s the solution? Inform yourself beforehand, talk less and listen more!

Sales Intelligence tools such as Sparklane’s Predict solution can provide you with a wealth of key information, business signals and customer news you can use to ask relevant questions which open the door to sales opportunities!

After that, instead of thinking “pitch”, always try to understand your customer’s needs so you can “modify your pitch” accordingly. There’s no need to say everything. Quite the opposite, in fact: the less you say, the more weight and value what you do say will have!

That’s the secret of the best sellers.

Mistake No.3: Not learning from your mistakes!

Time pressure and the need to get results quickly often mean we don’t take the time to examine our mistakes and learn lessons from them. But that’s where you lose most sales in the long term, and it’s also where your greatest potential for sales growth lies…

Don’t believe me? Here are two examples:

  1. For example, ask your prospects who they chose to work with and why they didn’t take up your offers. That’ll teach you the art of better targeting. It’ll refine your sales pitch and correct a number of counter-productive attitudes that are working against you!
  2. Ask your customers why they’re going elsewhere / not renewing their orders. In doing so, you’ll learn your weak points and what you have to improve to increase customer loyalty and boost your orders!

You can even brainstorm and encourage your teams to analyse themselves constantly by answering the following questions:

  • What sales techniques, methods and strategies are currently winning us sales? Why?
  • What sales techniques, methods and strategies are not winning us sales? Why not?

By answering these questions, you’ll be able to capitalise on what works and leave behind what doesn’t, or attempt corrective action on it. That’s the key to improving performance in your sales process!

You know the future business potential in your line of work. It’s up to you to assess how much these three mistakes are costing you in lost sales, and how much time you’ll put into correcting them…