I did this article specifically for everyone else out there who is in the business of selling services. Whether you are selling your skills to a potential employer over an interview these tips could also work for you too. My approach to this was to look at the mistakes people make since I assume you’ve definitely gone through product training and a sales programme at your workplace.
If you want to make money through selling, you just need to avoid these common mistakes.
1. Don’t forget to qualify
Before you can sell, you have to find someone to sell to, right? Whether it’s someone coming to you or whether you are finding someone to sell to, the first thing you have to do is qualify your potential customer.
If you forget to do the qualifying step a large percentage of your time will be wasted on potential customers who don’t really need your offering, or can’t afford it.
Every opportunity isn’t equal. Through qualifying you’ll get a better understanding of what each customer wants, when they want it by, their budget, and most importantly you’ll be able to figure out if you are talking to the person who can actually make the decision. Work with prospects, don’t just sell to anyone!
If you aren’t sure how to qualify people, all you have to do is ask them simple questions such as:
- What are you looking for specifically?
- What’s your budget?
- When are you looking to start?
2. Don’t be a “yes” man
Do you know what the biggest sales mistake you can make? It’s saying “yes”. When a potential customer makes a request, you’re naturally going to want to say “yes”. And once you say yes a few times, you’ll realize that you’re walking on a slippery slope because the customer will keep on making requests and each one will not only cost you money, but it will let the customer know that they can be demanding and walk all over you. When I handled social media for Coca-Cola Kenya some crazy ideas were ‘thrown to us’ (Digital agency) suggested by guys who certainly did have any background in digital marketing & social media. At times we’d just say “we’ll see what we can do” but certainly did nothing! ( we wanted to impress the big brands, which was demonstrated our demonstration)
If you can do what a customer wants and it is profitable for you, say yes. If the request is unreasonable, say no. By setting this precedent early on, you’ll have more happy customers.
When I first started selling years ago, I had a tendency to constantly say yes (I was desperate for the sale) even when I couldn’t deliver. This caused us to have unhappy customers and it added unnecessary stress to the business. So don’t do what I did.
3. Don’t offer too much information
The more information you offer to people, the more likely they’ll be confused. And when people are confused, they won’t become a customer. Learn to get your message out in a quick and short way as it will be easier to understand. Trying to look smart by using sophisticated language or talking in technical jargon is just dumb. When pitching customers, make sure you only tell them what they need and want to know. I’ve found that when you tell them more than they want to know by trying to throw in something that’s mind blowing, sometimes you’ll increase the likelihood of closing the deal, but in most cases you’ll just bore them to death. People have short attention spans, so be careful about dragging things on. Just address their pain points by talking about what you’re offering is beneficial to them (your prospect) and finally do not forget to ask for a sale! Always approach the client from a ‘what’s in it for them’ angle, get them to the edge and finally offer them a solution!
4. Don’t over sell
Similar to offering potential customers too much information, you shouldn’t over sell. If you’re too pushy it’s a big turn off. You have to think of sales like dating. Don’t stoop so low, because you end up looking desperate and shoddy, no one will be attracted to you! You have to be casual with your sales techniques and really act like you don’t care to make the sale. Because at the end of the day, if your product or service is that good, the person you are selling to should be privileged to use it.
If you are one of those people who want to be a bit pushy instead of just waiting things out, you can always create a sense of urgency to close the deal… plus it won’t seem like you are overselling.
Secondly do not sound like you are just after the cheque alone, seek to build relationships, don’t focus too much on that one transaction!
5. Don’t lose sight of the goal
You’re in sales meetings to make sales, right? Well of course you are, so why would you waste your time chit chatting about random topics with a potential customer?
You don’t have people’s undivided attention forever, so make sure you are keeping track of time and you get your message across as quick as possible. If you have spare time after that you can start chit chatting about common interests as that will help build a stronger connection, but you shouldn’t do that until you get all of your major points across and have the person on the hook. I know of sales ladies who meet a group of guys for a sales pitch and the meeting turns into a date; ensure your prospect doesn’t take control of the pitch! The same applies if you’re doing a pitch over beer, food or coffee, focus on the major reason why you’re meeting these people. (The $$$$ plus offering them a solution from Company X not about you and how cute you look)
6. Don’t delay your sales
If your product or service isn’t ready, you’ll have a tendency to not sell until it’s ready. The big problem with this is that you can’t predict when things are going to be ready! You don’t have to give your customers your product or service right now, you can give them access to it in the future. And by having them sign up right now, you can always give them a discount to entice them. Or what I like doing is to close the sale ahead of time and tell companies how there is a 30 to 60 day implementation time frame as this buys me time. This works really well in a service oriented business. Start selling a conference or a training 3 to 6 months prior as you plan for it
7. Don’t talk past the sale
After you close a deal, you need to learn to stop talking. I’ve seen people lose deals a countless number of times because they keep on talking after the potential customer is ready to become a customer. They do this by saying something stupid which makes that person think twice.
Learn to keep your mouth shut after someone tells you they want to be a customer. If you can’t, this is the best time to chitchat about random subjects like sports, music or the traffic; kindly note that your views on politics, religion and such subjects could also cost you the SALE!
You don’t have to be a good sales person to close a deal, you just have to avoid the mistakes I talked about above. If you can do that, you’ll start to close more deals and make more money.
So don’t focus your time on trying to become an exceptionally great sales person, just focus on avoiding the common pitfalls I discussed.