Five Sales Mistakes You Can Avoid

| Author: Bob Wendt

Is your sales team effective? Is it as effective as it could be? There are five mistakes that should be on your sales manager’s radar. Correct these mistakes and your team will be much more effective.

1. Not knowing your ideal customer. Often sales effort is spent pursuing customers who aren’t a good fit for the company or who aren’t going to buy. Making the appropriate effort upfront to identify the attributes of the ideal customer and your ability to capture that customer will save you precious sales time. You need to develop a method of finding the ideal client. One idea is developing a scorecard that details what the ideal customer looks like, including sales volume, geography, product offerings, and market approach. Define how likely it is for you to start a new relationship with each client listed.

2. Spending time on unqualified customers. Without a methodology to qualify customers, your sales team will be wasting time on those that don’t have the budget, don’t have the authority to make a decision, or have misrepresented their need for your product. Help your sales force develop the skills to determine the gatekeeper’s level of authority. One way to polish these skills is by sending at least two people to initial client meetings. They can help each other decide if the customer meets your expectations as being qualified. Refining your sales process so your team can work on leads that have been qualified by lead-scoring increases your closing rates and creates more predictability for your sales pipeline.

3. Approaching a customer with no clear objective. Asking a potential client to meet so you can find out more about their business is not going to happen. Sales people must do their research to establish a reason for someone to meet with them or will never get those appointments that can lead to meaningful customer relationships. In today’s digital world there is no excuse for not understanding the company or contact you are trying to reach. Once research has been done, meetings can then focus on a client’s needs, new product, or expanding to new territory, and how your company can help, given that information.

4. Not measuring the right activity of your sales team. Activity is the driver of any sales organization and a good sales manager is constantly measuring it. Your products could be great, your value proposition right on target, but if you are not engaging enough customers your sales growth will stall. Limiting activity measurements to numbers of calls or meetings can easily be manipulated by a salesperson to create a perception of activity. More effective measures of activity should relate to activity that are more tangible, including estimates and proposals. These are directly related to an outcome that will impact sales. Not measuring these types of activity only create an illusion of progress but won’t lead to closing sales.

5. Thinking your customers are making a decision based on price. No one buys on price. Clients go through a value equation that measures different factors, including turnaround, technology, and risk mitigation, that all play into the decision to buy or not. It’s the salesperson’s ability to understand the buying criteria that will lead to improved sales. That understanding allows the salesperson to connect the dots, not only with how your product works, but with the value it can bring to the client organizationally. If salespeople are ineffective at connecting those dots, then price will be the only differentiating factor, and that’s what clients will use to say no.

Feel free to use this as a checklist for your team. Highlight what you’re doing right and use these tips to find ways you can improve.

Are you doing everything you can to create an effective sales pipeline? For ongoing access to additional resources, connect with me on LinkedIn or subscribe to get monthly updates on growing your business in your inbox from Cultivate Communications.

Robert Wendt
Cultivate Communications

Robert is a lifelong Milwaukeean and his passion to see our Milwaukee grow led him to launch Cultivate Communications in 2010. Cultivate thrives on bringing together inventive ideas and marketing technologies to drive sales growth.

Salespeople Sell and . . .

As a young salesman many years ago, my sales manager caught me doing some project sketches. He interrupted me, looked me straight in the eye and said “Salespeople sell and engineers engineer. Do you call that selling?”

Repeated surveys over the years estimate that most salespeople spend about 30% of the available selling time in a day actually selling. The remainder of the day is spent on non-sales activity. Unnecessary meetings, responding to other department information requests and getting dragged into projects that have nothing to do with sales consume a lot of salespeople’s time on the daily basis.

Here are some scary statistics that the TAS group and uncovered that should have you looking at where your salespeople are spending their selling time.

  • Two thirds of all salespeople DO NOT meet their sales quotas.
  • More than half of all salespeople have a closing ration under 40% on qualified opportunities.
  • Only 46% of salespeople feel their pipeline is accurate.

While there may be other reasons for these staggering findings, one easy point of attack is to find out how much time your salespeople are actually selling. A simple exercise is to have them log their time for a week. It is a real eye opener.

Next, as a sales manager, you can act as a filter for requests coming from other departments. If it takes time away from your salespeople selling and is not critical, postpone, reject or deflect such projects. Think of the increase in revenue if your salespeople were able to spend even 10% more time in front of customers.

When we look at key account selling, so much depends on salespeople developing strategies, meeting multiple contacts within the customer’s organization, staying in contact with multiple decision makers and maintaining a multi-level relationship.  That is a monumental task if you only devote 30% of your time to it