6 Common Sales Blunders to Avoid

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Whether you’re a sales rep or responsible for the performance of sales reps, stay vigilant for these common sales blunders. Some of these selling mistakes can mean the difference between a lifelong business relationship and a closed-lost lead. Here are some of the most common sales blunders that reps and sales managers make.

1. Relying on sales collateral

One of the best stalling techniques ever used by prospects (or more frequently, non prospects) is, “Send me information on that.” And they use it for a good reason. It works.

Every day this phrase chases sales rep off the phone or out of the inbox, and sends them scrambling for literature, tossing fistfuls of shiny brochures into oversized envelopes or attaching multiple PDFs, convinced (mistakenly) that “I’ve got a hot one here.” Perhaps you’ve fallen victim to this yourself. But this balloon of anticipation quickly deflates when the sales rep calls back, hearing, “uh, I didn’t have a chance to read that yet.” And the cycle continues.

Don’t automatically assume that “send me literature” is a legitimate sign of interest, as it’s often used to deflect. And don’t be fooled into thinking that sales collateral does your selling. Your prospect may not even read your materials! Sales collateral is a compliment to your other selling tactics. When you get the “send more information” request, make sure the lead is a qualified, legitimate buyer, and not someone trying to push you aside. It’s better (and less expensive) to get the “no” now, rather than later.

2. Focusing on products, not value

Don’t make product features the highlight of your pitch. Prospects really only care about the results and outcomes they can get from your company. They want you to solve their problems, and the frustrations they face every day. Rather than focusing all efforts into expounding on the features you can offer, focus on how those features actually change the game for your prospects. By shifting your perspective into solving client problems rather than selling a product, you’re already more effective.

Here are two facts from Gong to encourage you to adopt this approach:

  • The most successful reps spend up to 52% more time talking about business value than their poorer-performing peers.
  • They spend up to 39% less time talking about features and technical topics than those same peers.

3. Talking too much

Top reps have been shown to do more listening than talking on sales calls, according to data from Gong. Top sales reps talk at most for 46% of a sales call. That means they listen for at least 54% of it. Mid-range performers talk for up to 68% of the time, and the poorest-performing reps aren’t far behind them. It takes discipline to talk less, and listen more. But the results are clear. Listen to your prospects.

“When I first learned that my talk-to-listen ratio was averaging 72:28, Gong’s CEO Amit Bendov gave me a little tip: ‘Chris, you are so eager to respond after the other person is done speaking that you begin speaking as soon as they’re done. Try letting an awkward three seconds go by between the time they’re done speaking, and the time you respond.’ I have to admit, this felt weird the first few times I tried it. But Amit’s advice didn’t disappoint. I’m still surprised at how often prospects ‘add on’ to the end of their responses when I just shut up a few seconds more than what feels natural. And often, that extra information they share with me is pure gold.”

Chris Orlob of Gong.io

4. Misaligned sales and marketing efforts

Sales and marketing misalignment is common, and companies with divided sales and marketing teams that function independently are putting themselves at a disadvantage. Both your marketing and sales teams have the same goal of driving sales and revenue, so it is crucial to keep them in sync. Sales and marketing alignment is potentially the largest opportunity for improving business performance today. By aligning these two departments, you enable sales and marketing to be more successful, dramatically improving marketing return on investment (ROI), sales productivity, and, most importantly, top-line growth.

5. Not assessing performance

When sales reps grind out call after call without pausing to assess themselves after each, they waste learning opportunities. That’s why there are veteran salespeople who have placed thousands upon thousands of calls in their lifetime, but haven’t really grown themselves or honed their craft. They don’t reflect on what they have done. Learning doesn’t take place while you’re engaged in an activity. It takes place afterward, when you process it. Just like reading a book, you retain more when you pause to reflect on, and react to, what you just experienced.

At the end of every call you place, ask these two questions:

  1. What did I like about this call?
  2. What would I have done differently on this call?

Do you think there’s no time to perform this activity after your calls? Think again. You can’t afford NOT to.

6. Not preparing 

Consider if an airline pilot got on the intercom just after takeoff and said, “Thank you for flying with us today. We’re going to fly somewhere, I’m just not sure exactly where, but I hope it’s the right place.” 

That doesn’t sound right, does it?

Now consider another scenario. A sales rep sits down at their desk, pulls up prospect names, and immediately starts dialing the first number. If you ask them what they want to accomplish on the call, you’d probably get a vague response about a sale, appointment, or lead. But that sales rep is like a pilot taking off before knowing the destination. Poor preparation usually results in sloppy, rambling calls. The outcome is determined before they even pick up the phone. 

The most important step in a successful sales call is the first one: setting your primary objective. Where do you want to be at the end of the call? After you’ve set your objective, simply fill in the blanks with what needs to happen for you to travel from point A to point B. You’ll realize what information you’ll need, and the information you’ll want to present based on those needs.    

Ready to make some changes to your sales process? Check out our Sales Readiness training for new reps, PEO Masterclass for tenured reps, and our sales success webinar series

Related: 21 B2B Lead Generation Tactics you can start using today

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