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If you’ve been in business for a while no doubt you’ve experienced a plethora of different salespeople either selling to you or for you. Here are some fundamental and common ‘selling’ mistakes that I’ve come across. Interestingly, these are the same mistakes that people make when interviewing new prospective team members, or when they themselves are looking for a job – e.g. selling themselves to a future employer or client.

Here are just 5 of the most common ones that spring to mind:

1. They don’t know how to leave a good voicemail message.

How many times have you listened to a message left for you and you wonder, “What did they want?” You don’t say your name or phone number clearly, you sound completely disorganized in what you’re calling about, and you ramble. Leave a voicemail message for yourself sometime and then ask yourself, “Would I call myself back after a message like that?”

2. They don’t show up on time.

There’s really no excuse for this as you should always plan on being at the appointment 15 minutes ahead of time. By getting there early, you get your nerves under control, you can go over your plan of action, and you can observe the office or business environment and the team member’s interactions with each other. If you are late for one appointment for unforeseen reasons, that may be excusable the first time as long as you call ahead and let them know. But if it happens the second time, your odds of getting invited back have just gone down tremendously because you’re seen as someone who cannot be depended upon.

3. They’re not prepared.

They decide to just “wing it”. In a recent survey of business owners and top-level-decision makers were asked, “What is the most important thing to you in business?” The overwhelming response: time. They said that money could be replaced. Their time couldn’t. That’s why you see so many business owners wanting you to get to the bottom-line quickly and cut the small talk. They’re not being rude. They just have so many other demands on their time that you better know what you want, how you want to say it, and move on within fifteen minutes. You can take care of the details with them later. And a part of preparation is knowing what you want to say, what you expect them to say, how you will respond, and what is happening in the environment during the appointment (body language, what is and what is not being said, and how people are relating to each other).

4. Salespeople don’t properly express to the decision-maker ‘what’s in it for them’ if they purchase the product or service on offer.

What results will your product or service provide? Be specific. Give them proof. Will it save me two hours per week? Will it cut our costs by 15% in one month? Will it increase our sales by 10% this quarter? Too many salespeople give too much detail about the product design, how easy the process is, or how inexpensive it is. Decision-makers are concerned about the bottom-line: what results will it get me and how soon?

5. Many salespeople are clueless about how they relate with their prospects and clients.

Their handshake may be the “dead fish” and the client reads you as a wimp. You don’t make eye contact and the client thinks you have something to hide. You clear your throat too much which is a sign that someone is not telling the truth. You’re evasive in your answers which they read as you’re trying to hide something or you have no knowledge of what you’re talking about. You talk small talk with someone who wants to get to the bottom-line immediately. You don’t listen. You don’t remember people’s names you’re introduced to. A lot of little things that add up to the whole and if enough are missing, you will be to when the best vendors are invited back in for the final proposal.

Selling, like sports, is a contact sport that requires you to acquire the necessary skills, improve those skills, and execute those skills. If you do, you will become a true professional. If you don’t, you’ll just remain an order taker.

Have a great week,
Peter