In the 20-plus years that I’ve built and trained sales teams, one of the reoccurring issues I’ve witnessed even the most seasoned professional do is lose their sales momentum. I call this “fumbling the ball.” In the game of sales, that ball is your product or service, and they, the rep, are the player. It is easier than you think to mishandle a sale with a lack of focus or preparation. Just as a ball game has specific regulations, so too does the sales process.
Here are seven common sales fumbles, and how you can prevent your sales team from “dropping the ball” in order to close the deal and land your next client.
1. Allowing the prospect to lead the process.
Good leading is all about not, figuratively speaking, “pulling someone by the neck,” or pushing him from behind. The best way to avoid this common fumble is to have your sales reps lead by asking questions. Usually, we don’t like to be the one asking the questions, but it’s the best way to learn if our offerings even fit the potential customer’s needs. Asking quality questions will uncover specific issues and corporate objectives. If you are going to sell yourself as an agency expert, asking questions is essential.
2. Failing to prepare for the sales presentation.
I equate this situation to an overly confident salesperson who doesn’t prepare, but rather relies on their talent to get them through the pitch. But if the appropriate research has not been conducted, however, it will be obvious to the client that your team is unprepared. While you may work for an industry that is gracious enough to give you another shot to pitch the product, you only have one chance to make a first impression on that client. Talent alone won’t cut it; instead, you must get up, get your head on straight, and get in the game.
3. Talking too much.
It’s a common misstep for salespeople to think that having their mouth open puts them in control. Instead, it is critical during the time of a sales presentation to rather lead by listening. Simply put, the crux of sales is knowing that someone has a need, and knowing that you have the ability to meet that need. Many times, a client is sold on a service simply by selling it to themselves in the act of answering questions about their business that you’ve posed.
4. Thinking about your offerings instead of their need.
Too often, we try to make the sale about us, when instead it’s about the needs and concerns of the customers. Every day, your customers are bombarded with proposed solutions to solve their pain points; what they need is a reason why they should ignore those other offers and choose to work with you. Be the company that they remember because you stood apart from competitors by caring the most about meeting their needs.
5. Not using case studies or relevant stories.
When you discuss a case study, don’t simply spell out the numerical data. If a salesperson can support their key points with vivid and relevant stories that include dialogue and suspense, they can then use these tactics to better appeal to the client. Your audience members will find themselves listening to a story rather than a straight-up pitch.
6. Failing to pause.
Ensure the presenters take the time to actually stop and regroup. It gives the listener time to reflect on the points you’ve made. Allow time for the information to sink in and be processed. If you are rushing through a speech that bombards them with information, your potential client won’t be able to retain any of the important information you’ve given them. This is a rookie mistake and is not to be taken lightly if you want to land new business.
7. Not prospecting when business is booming.
It is far too common for agencies to stop prospecting when business is going well. Whether you want to continue pitching new business, prospecting is the key. If you want to succeed, identifying clients to form partnerships with down the line needs to be a priority.
If we are going to win the “game” of securing new clients, we need to keep these potential fumbles and mind and train our sales teams on how to avoid them so we don’t lose out on the chance to close business deals before they come to fruition. Having a keen understanding of the strategies that come with the sales territory will enable us as agency owners to meet our potential clients’ needs while solidifying our position as the go-to expert in the industry.
David Villa is a best-selling author, speaker, and trainer. He is also CEO of IPD, a world-class marketing agency.