Monday, February 27, 2012

4 Ways to Lose the Sale

After listening to millions of minutes of sales calls, and working with hundreds of clients over the past 11 years, we’ve heard pretty much every way imaginable someone could lose a sale. There are hundreds—maybe thousands of ways—to lose a sale. Here are four:
  1. Failure to Ask Questions

    Many sales reps simply talk too much and ask too few questions. They launch right into a sales pitch without first learning anything about what the client does or how the client does it. There are instances when talking is appropriate. Certainly there is a point in each sales interaction when you have to sell your product, explain its features and benefits and close the deal. But you shouldn’t just launch into a sales pitch without first learning what your client needs and how to meet those needs. You can’t learn either of those things without asking a bunch of questions first. Failing to ask questions on an initial sales call is one surefire way to lose a sale.

    One more point about asking questions: most people in sales positions understand that asking questions during the sales call is a major key to success. However, too few people are willing to ask direct questions during follow-up calls and emails. They fail to ask questions later in the sales process. Here’s an example: a prospect is talking in vague terms and rambling on about their future plans and budgets and problems. Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions about their interest level and their timetable.

    Ask questions throughout the entire sales process.
  2. Failure to Be Direct

    Being direct is often confused with being overbearing. I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about.

    The other day I was on the phone with a potential partner. I had asked some questions and determined their needs and I had given a ‘pitch’ about our new product, LogMyCalls. The potential partner started talking in broad, sweeping generalities about their industry and some of their partners in the past. He started using corporate buzzwords like ‘leverage’ and ‘scalable.’ I could sense from his response that he wasn’t terribly interested in the product, but either didn’t want to say it or didn’t know how to say it.
    So I interrupted and just asked, “So are you interested in a potential partnership.”
    “Well, there are circumstances that are….(blah, blah, blah),” he said for another 10 minutes.
    “Look I don’t want to waste your time or ours,” I said. “Are you interested?”
    “No, not at all,” he replied.
    I responded politely and the conversation ended.

    However, because he was unwilling or unable to simply tell me that he didn’t think it was a good fit, he ended up wasting 30 minutes beating around the bush. These 30 minutes are minutes that I could have used to find new partners. Be direct.

  3. Failure to Take Control

    Far too often
    sales reps don’t take control of the process. I say process because it is widely known that reps should take control of the actual sales call. The rep should lead in asking questions, providing answers and providing context for the conversation. That is widely understood. What is less understood is the absolute necessity for sales reps to lead in the sales process.

    What does this mean?

    It means that a prospect should never have to ask ‘what are the next steps?’ or ‘what are my options?’ or ‘can you send me more information about x?’ The rep should always be one step ahead and should always lay out the next steps clearly. There should never be any wishy-washing about when the next appointment is, or what the next step is. The rep should be in firm control of the process.

  4. Failure to Follow-Up

    The initial sales call went great. The product seems like a good fit. What do you do next? You follow-up! Too many leads fall through the cracks of a sales process far too often. This should never happen. Make sure to follow up with prospects. Be aggressive and don’t forget about them.
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