3 biggest sales blunders – and how to avoid them

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There are countless blunders salespeople make at meeting stage, each of which can go a long way to derailing a deal. Most of us will admit to having made at least one in our time, but luckily we can all learn from our mistakes.

Be it pushing too hard, not being direct enough, not following up swiftly enough after a meeting, not listening, talking too much, going off topic, preferring a ‘maybe’ over a ‘no’, relying too much on your presentation, failing to distinguish yourself from the competition, becoming an unpaid consultant, not being straight with the customer or fixating on the whale, the road to sales success is littered with some seriously wrong turns.

Each of these is likely to scupper your best efforts, but there are arguably even greater sales banana skins to watch out for. Here’s three of the biggest, most inexcusable sales blunders to be wary of and some tips on how to avoid them.

1. Not doing your homework

As explained in our recent article Seal more deals, prepare your meetings, in this information rich age, it is a common courtesy to utilise all available resources during your pre-meeting prep and an absolute no-no to cut this corner. Showing you have a clear grasp of your customers’ product or service, the position of their business and current developments in their vertical speaks volumes about you and your offering. Simply put, it builds trust and authenticity. Prospects are time-poor and have limited patience. It is crucial that you don’t devour time in a meeting doing basic investigations; that time is far more productively used solution-selling. Frankly, you fully deserve the trap door to open beneath you if you begin a meeting with, “What does your business do?” when that information is readily available.

2. Not focusing on the solution

Emphasis on value delivery, or even better, profit delivery is the foundation upon which great, sustainable business relationships are built. Nevertheless, it is amazing how many reps regard pricing and cutting a deal as the key to getting a customer over the line. Most customers will see straight through this and know that the deal is more important to you than them achieving their objectives. 

If you make it clear that your primary goal is to solve their problem and to drive value into their business, while clearly demonstrating how that will be achieved, you’ll be amazed at how satisfied your prospect will be and how pressure on your pricing dissipates. Moreover, whilst an overview of deliverables is great, don’t lose sight of the fact that they are of secondary importance to the customer. Yes, they want to know what they will receive from your product or service, but for them the impact those deliverables will have on their productivity or bottom line is paramount.

3. Speaking to the wrong person

So, well done, you’ve got the meeting, you’re armed to the hilt with insights on your prospect and primed to deliver a solution-based pitch. What could possibly go wrong? If you’re like many salespeople who are driven hard to secure meetings at pretty much any cost … plenty. 

All too often, the enthusiastic rush to get a foot in the door sees the salesperson fail to adequately profile the decision making landscape and fails to ensure someone with the authority to purchase is actually present. The result is often a great reception but without the right people in the room, wasted time. Ignoring the influencer can of course be fatal, but relying on the influencer to adequately take your proposition upstairs, and coherently pitch your value proposition is a risk no sales person should be prepared to take. After all, they’re not on your company’s payroll, so why would you expect them to be able to do your job? 

With this in mind and with a view to avoid repeat visits to your prospect, qualify the authority structure within the business during your initial approach. Build an understanding of what matters to them most and sell to them the value of attending the meeting accordingly. For tips on how to get decision-makers to attend meetings, check out this article

A final word

And lastly, keep perspective and move on when you make mistakes. We all make them – the difference is how you bounce back. This quote from Al Franken sums it up – “Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.” Your sales mistakes won’t kill you, but if you learn from them, you’ll be a better sales professional for it. 

Need Help? Do you need fresh, quality data or a valid business reason to get in touch with a prospect? IRD is Australia’s leading provider of commercial intelligence and reliable data. Get 5 free tailored B2B sales insights today to see first-hand how IRD provides a constant stream of relevant new business opportunities.