1. Repeating the same action over and over and expecting different results
The biggest enemy to sales is the status quo. When sales trainers say that phrase, we are usually referring to prospects. The idea is that most people find it to be very difficult to let go of what they are used to doing (even if it's not working for them) and so it is frequently difficult to persuade a prospect to make a change. Hence, the biggest enemy to sales is the status quo.
What is interesting is that the same rule is true of anyone in sales. The biggest enemy to your sales is the status quo-your status quo.
One can always sell more. One can always streamline an approach, become more efficient, develop new skills and/or refine existing skills. Yet all too frequently I have seen and heard participants in training sessions adamantly insist that the sales habits which do not produce results for them "ought to" work. And I have seen and heard participants refuse to try other approaches because they don't believe those changes will work for them.
What I've always loved about sales is that it is crystal clear. You are either selling or you are not. You are either closing or you are not. When prospecting, you are either scheduling appointments or you are not. If what you are doing is not working for you, it's time to do something else.
The sales professionals who are truly successful are the ones who continue to hone their skills. Keep what works for you and always be on the look out for tools to use to improve your bottom line.
2. Not doing the homework
Some prospects are better than others. Before conducting any sales activity it is imperative to know that you are focusing only on your best, most qualified prospects. By best, I mean those who are most likely to buy, buy a lot and keep coming back to buy more. Too many sales representatives spend too much time courting prospects who are unlikely to buy, or if they do, buy very little.
Create your "qualifying parameters." What are the specifics that make a prospect qualified for you? The prospects that you pursue must meet those parameters. And one of those parameters must be that you are speaking with the decision-maker. If you are not speaking with the decision-maker, you are not speaking with a qualified prospect.
3. Expecting instant results
Selling is a process. Your prospects, more than likely, will not instantly say, "yes." They will probably, at least initially, not even return your phone calls. Too many representatives give up far too soon. They believe their prospects are not interested when the truth is that the selling process simply needs more time.
It is important to understand your sales process. Every sale has a cycle and depending on what you are selling, it could be a short cycle or it could be quite lengthy. While some companies are in the very fortunate position of having prospects contact them, many others are not and need to continually be prospecting for new opportunities.
Remember: Selling is your number one priority. Buying is not your prospect's number one priority. Even if the prospect contacted you, in the interim things can happen that claim that prospect's attention. It is your job to help your prospect stay focused and on track and understand the value that you have to offer.
4. Letting fear and preconceived ideas rule your actions
"I don't want to be 'pushy.'" I have heard this phrase over and over and over in workshops, in teleclasses and when working with individual clients. It's a phrase that always frustrates me. What exactly does it mean, anyway? No one knows because everyone has a different definition.
What's interesting is that the only definition of "pushy" that actually counts is the definition of your prospect. Now we're into mind reading territory. To truly not be "pushy" you'd have to discover what your prospect means by that word and whatever that is, not do it.
The problem with worrying about being "pushy" (or being too "salesy" or too "aggressive" or any of the other things sales people worry about) is that it stops you from taking action. Without action, you will not sell.
Bottom line: Selling is a communication skill. And like any communication skill, it can be learned and improved upon. If there are people having success in your chosen field, there is no reason that you cannot have the same success. Educate yourself. Read books, attend teleseminars or live seminars, talk to colleagues, hire a coach do whatever it takes to gain the skills that you need to be successful.
© 2007 Wendy Weiss