Nine Common Mistakes Salespeople Make

1. They talk instead of LISTEN.
Too many salespeople monopolize the time they have in front of prospect with their talk, only allowing the prospect to listen (whether or not it's interesting). For every hour they actually spend in front of a prospect, they spend five minutes selling their product or service...and fifty-five minutes buying it back, Result: "No order" or "Think it over".

2. They presume instead of ASKING QUESTIONS.
Salespeople seem to have all the solutions. In fact, most companies are no longer in the business of selling products, but instead are now in the business of selling solutions. The only problem with this is that too many salespeople try to tell the prospect the solution before they even understand the problem. If salespeople were held accountable for their solutions, as doctors are for prescriptions, they would be forced to examine the problem thoroughly before proposing a cure at the risk of malpractice. The salesperson must ask questions up front to insure a complete understanding of the prospect's perspective.

3. They ANSWER UNASKED QUESTIONS.
When a customer makes a statement such as "Your price is too high", salespeople automatically switch into a defensive mode. Often, the salesperson will begin a lengthy speech on quality or value...or they might respond with a concession...or a price reduction. If a customer can get a discount by merely making a statement, then maybe he shouldn't buy yet, until he tries something more powerful to get an even better price. "Your price is too high" is not a question! It does not require an answer.

4. They make TOO MANY FOLLOW-UP CALLS when the sale is actually dead.
Whether it is a stubborn attitude to turn every prospect into a customer, or ignorance of the fact that the sale is truly dead, too much time is spent on chasing accounts that don't qualify for a product or service. This should have been detected far earlier in the interview process.

5. They fail to get a COMMITMENT before closing sale.
Salespeople are too willing to jump at the opportunity to show how smart they are by making features and benefit presentations about their product or service. They miss their true goal-To make a sale-and end up merely educating their prospects, who then have all the information they need to help them buy from a competitor.

6. They chat about everything and AVOID STARTING THE SALE.
Building rapport is necessary and desirable...but all too often the small talk doesn't begin. Unfortunately, the prospect usually recognizes this before the salesperson is back on the street wondering how he or she did with that prospect.

7. They would rather hear "I want to think it over" than to hear the word "NO".
Prospects are constantly ending the sales interview with the standard "THINK IT OVER" line. The salesperson accepts this indecision and even sympathizes with the prospect. It's easier for the salesperson to tell the sales manager that the prospect may buy in the future, rather than to say that the prospect is not a qualified candidate for the product or service. After all, wasn't it the salesperson's job to go out and get prospects to say, "YES"? Getting the prospect to say "NO" can also produce feelings of personal rejection or failure.

8. They see themselves as BEGGARS instead of DOCTORS.
Salespeople don't view their time with prospect as being spent conducting an interview to find out if the prospect qualifies to do business with their company. All too often a prospect really remains a SUSPECT and never gets to a more qualified level of PROSPECT or CUSTOMER. Salespeople often find themselves hoping...wishing... and even begging for the opportunity to just "show my wares" and maybe make a sale. This is like the physician who examines the patient thoroughly before making a recommendation. A doctor uses various instruments to conduct an examination of the patient. Salespeople should use questions as their instrument to conduct a qualifying examination of the prospect.

9. They work without a SYSTEMATIC APPROACH TO SELLING.
Salespeople find themselves ad-libbing or using a "hit" or "miss" approach to make the sale. They allow the prospect to control the selling process. Salespeople often leave the sales call feeling confused and not knowing where they stand. This happens because they don't know where they have been...and what the next step should be. The importance of following a specific sequence ad controlling the steps through the selling process is vital to the organized, professional salesperson's success.

Neil Greenberg is a sales manager with a DC based e-commerce company. He also keeps his blog, Sales Sherpa (http://salessherpa.blogspot.com/) fresh with articles on sales, goal setting, motivation, and more.

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