B2B salespeople have many opportunities to shoot themselves in the foot, and this article describes 6 things salespeople should not load into their six-shooter.
#1 – Fail to prospect consistently
Prospecting is as fundamental to B2B selling as is waking up in the morning. Don’t do it consistently and you’ll find a shallow sales pipeline. And remember, lack of activity is the single biggest reason for failure to succeed in sales.
Whether you are cold calling, doing drop-ins, reaching out via LinkedIn, or asking for referrals from customers and people in your network, prospecting is one of those few things over which you have total control. If prospecting is not part of your sales efforts, it is likely you’ll struggle to meet your goals.
#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. Don’t do it, because you’ll come off as just another salesperson. Misinterpret one of these observations and you might be shooting yourself in the foot.
The key to sales success, like in most other business situations, is to stand out from the rest. 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 solve a problem.
The only way you can determine if your products/services can add value is if the buyer has the opportunity to explain his 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.
If you are making a narrative pitch, make sure you tell the customer how long it will take, you make it intriguing, you address a pain point, and it doesn’t take more than 20 minutes.
#4 – Make lengthy presentations 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-verbal cues. Plus, simply being invited into a buyer’s office is an indication you have established at least some credibility.
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. If you haven’t covered something in which the buyer is interested, he’ll ask.
#5 – Fail to ask for the sale
A recent study reported that only 27% of sales situations did the salesperson actually ask for the sale. Asking for the sale doesn’t mean you have to be pushy. It simply means you ask the buyer to make a commitment about next steps.
Be cautious about how you ask for the sale. There is a direct correlation to the size of the order and how direct you are when you ask for the sale. The bigger the sale, the less direct you are. Less direct closing questions are “how would you like to proceed from here?”, or “what’s the next step from your perspective?”
#6 - Fails to follow up
Another study about follow-up activities suggests salespeople give up too quickly. Industry research shows that the minimum number of times a salesperson should attempt to contact and/or follow-up is six times. The average salesperson’s performance is about two.
Top salespeople follow-up until they get a “no” response. They act as though the buyer is truly interested unless the buyer specifically says “no”. Only then do they move on.
In summary, top salespeople succeed by prospecting on a consistent basis. They build rapport by researching the buyer and asking good opening questions, and continue to ask great questions and listen actively. They make succinct presentations about their company, they always ask the buyer for next steps, and they know how to follow up. Implement these behaviors and you’ll sell more.