You can read hundreds of articles about what elite salespeople do but few about what they don’t do. So, here’s a list of 5 things elite salespeople don’t do.
#1 – If you build it they will come – NOT!
For most of us there are meaningful competitors for the things we sell. Even if your company is a market leader, you cannot sit back and expect buyers to come to you. This may happen to some degree as a result of some branding or awareness efforts, but a passive sales approach won’t get you to your quota.
Prospecting is fundamental activity for elite salespeople. Prospecting takes the form of cold calling, assertive and consistent lead nurturing activities, asking current clients for referrals, and using tools like LinkedIn to find and connect with buyers in your target market.
If prospecting is not part of your sales and marketing efforts, it is likely you won’t rank among the elite salespeople in your industry.
#2 - Talk about the “fish on the wall”
Most salespeople will walk into a buyer’s office, notice an interesting picture, a college emblem or the proverbial “fish on the wall” and attempt to build rapport by talking about it. This is such normal behavior from most salespeople that buyers can see right through it and label you “just another salesperson”.
Misinterpret one of these observations and you might be putting your foot in your mouth. I once heard about a salesperson who was attempting to build rapport with a buyer and made a comment about a picture he saw in the lobby. He said to the buyer, “I noticed that picture in the lobby of you and John Madden. When was that taken?” The buyer responded, “That’s not John Madden, that’s my mother.” That salesperson didn’t make the sale. By the way, John Madden is a former NFL football coach and announcer.
The key to sales success, like in most other business situations, is to stand out from the rest and have a competitive advantage. The best way to build rapport is to research your buyer, find something business related that is unique to him and ask a good open-ended question about that issue. This approach demonstrates you’ve done your homework and gets the buyer talking.
#3 Show up and throw up
The single biggest frustration buyers have about salespeople is they talk too much. If a buyer has invited you into his office, he wants to find out if you can actually help him or solve his problems.
The only way you can determine if your products/services can add value is if the buyer has the opportunity to explain his challenges and problems. You don’t do this by talking about yourself, your company and your products. You learn only by asking good open-ended questions and listening actively.
During a typical sales meeting, the salesperson should talking 30% or less. Remember a couple of famous quotes; “A fool speaks – a wise man listens” and “God gave us two ears and one mouth – use these gifts proportionately.”
#4 Blah, blah, blah about your company
When making presentations about your company, be “short and sweet”. Realize buyers will quickly form strong impressions about you based on your appearance, tone of voice and other non-verbals. Plus, simply being invited into a buyer’s office is an indication you have established at least some credibility.
There’s something I call the “credibility hurdle”. That’s the point at which the buyer determines you are credible enough to interact with you. Once you’ve reached the “credibility hurdle”, you can turn your attention to learning about the buyer’s situation in order to see how you can add value. In other words, once you’ve hit the “credibility hurdle” stop trying to impress the buyer. Focus on him, not you and your company.
When it comes to telling the buyer about your company, don’t go on and on. Be succinct and to the point, spending no more than 5 minutes explaining who you are, what you do, your competitive advantages, and some of the unique elements of your products and services.
#5 Fails to follow up
Jim Valvano, former NCAA basketball championship coach has many famous quotes about follow-up and persistence – “Don’t give up – don’t ever give up” and “Failure and rejection are only the first steps to succeeding.”
One of the biggest failures of most salespeople is they fail to follow-up. Buyers even express frustration about salespeople not following up after a proposal is made. It takes an average of 12 contacts to make the sale to a qualified B2B prospect. The average salesperson makes only 3.
Elite salespeople follow-up until they get a “no” response. They act as though the buyer is truly interested unless the buyer specifically says “no”. Elite salespeople know how to follow up without appearing as a pest.
The best ways to follow up on a sales situation are; 1) re-emphasize the value you can add to the buyer’s situation, 2) share additional/new ideas and thoughts about the situation you’ve been discussing with your buyer, and 3) provide education in the form of articles and resources as a means to show you are truly interested in his success.
In summary, elite salespeople are consistently prospecting for sales opportunities. They don’t sit back and let the business come to them. They build rapport by researching the buyer and asking good opening questions that build the buyer’s self-esteem and get them talking. Elite salespeople ask great questions and listen actively, and they seize the opportunity to learn as much as possible about the buyer and his situation. They make succinct presentations about their company, and they know how to follow up. The focus on the buyer and how they can add value to him.