Watch Those Speed Bumps!
Common Sales Mistakes
By Paul Cherry
Not all sales interactions run smoothly;
even the best salespeople inevitably hit a bump in the road. Maybe
you’ve hit that bump because you unwittingly mishandled a situation,
or because your customer had conflicted feelings about a sale.
Either way, if you want to salvage your hard work and make sure the
sale goes through, you must learn to deal with these obstacles to
meet your customer’s needs.
Here are the six most common
mistakes salespeople make and how to overcome them:
1. Fearing the customer’s reaction.
When salespeople are afraid of what a customer might say, they end
up losing sales opportunities because they don’t find out what the
customer really wants. For example, you dread hearing customers say,
“Your price is too high.” It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction to offer
a lower price. Instead, be proactive and try to uncover the unique
buying criteria important to the customer so the price objection
doesn’t come up in the first place.
2. Taking it personally.
Sure, in your head you know that a customer’s bad attitude doesn’t
reflect on your worth as a human being. But our egos get in the way,
and we internalize the customer’s negativity. When your customer
brings up a problem, don’t get defensive and explain the problem
away. Not only will the customer probably not be overjoyed with your
response, but you will have failed to address the heart of the
matter: how to fix your customer’s problem.
3. Rushing to judgment.
As a salesperson, you should work to focus all of your attention on
your customer and her needs. It’s all too easy to swoop in to
present a solution instead of listening to your customer’s
complaints and the specifics of her situation. In this rush to cut
to the chase, you’re in danger of coming across as arrogant, and
your customer ends up feeling her input is unimportant and
Embrace any information your prospect
gives you, whether you believe it’s valuable or not. If you don’t
have time to talk at length with this prospect, request the
opportunity to call him back when you do have the time. Otherwise,
put down your briefcase, close your office door, and listen to him
for as long as he needs. Remember, even if you hear the story all
the time, it is unique and personal for each customer. Instead of
interrupting your customer with your standard solution, let him have
the floor and explain his problem. Only then can you proceed with
the process of finding a solution for whatever ails him.
4. Beating a dead horse.
How do you know when, despite your best efforts, your customer
relationship is beyond saving and therefore taking up more time than
it’s worth? When that customer is demanding, even confrontational,
yet provides you with little to no business for all the irritation
he’s giving you. Sometimes customers like this actually cost you
money because you spend so much time trying to please them. You hope
that if you keep doing business with them, they’ll eventually reward
you for your loyalty—but let’s face it, there are some customers you
just don’t want!
5. Shifting blame.
For the past twenty years, organizations have embraced the concept
of teamwork. When things go awry, though, it’s easy to point
fingers. Donald Trump’s TV series, The Apprentice, shows
how individuals can turn on each other to protect their own
interests. The boardroom meetings with “the Donald” show a different
side of each contestant’s character. One individual must be
eliminated from the show each week, so one gets singled out for
letting the team down.
When customers come to you with problems,
do you know someone on your team who tries to shift blame to another
person or department in your company? Pointing fingers only delays
resolving customers’ issues. When things go well in your firm,
everyone should definitely share the glory—and when things go wrong,
everyone should share the blame, too.
6. Treating all customer complaints
with the same approach.
Some salespeople have a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to
dealing with customer objections. They may offer to lower their
price or automatically throw in product extras, without listening to
the reasons the customer is upset. While you’re being conditioned to
respond to objections with concessions, your customers are learning
that whenever they complain, they’re rewarded, much like giving
whiny children toys or treats to quiet them. For example, a customer
might ask you to cut your price by 5% to clinch a deal. When you
agree to this deal, you’re setting up her expectations for the next
time you negotiate. She’ll think all she has to do is raise an
objection and you’ll always give in. Having only one approach to
resolving customer issues results in two mistakes:
It’s better for both you and your customer
if, instead of giving price cuts to close the deal, you really
listen to what your customer tells you, then go from there. Slowing
down and listening when you reach business relationship speed bumps
works better in the long run than always trying to swerve around
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