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The five cardinal sins of sales

Tarun Mittal
21st Jul 2017
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Working in sales is hard work. It involves contacting people, recognising their problems, building strong relationships with them and then, and only then, convincing them to buy whatever it is you're selling. The process entails a lot of nitty-gritties to all fall in place for it to work. Even one error can offset the sales from coming to fruition. In such a high-pressure work role, it becomes crucial to be aware of, and learn how to avoid, the biggest and most common mistakes. Keeping that in mind, here are five cardinal sins of sales that every sales person should strive to avoid at all costs:

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Not understanding the buyer's perspective

You may be selling a great product. But is it useful for the person you're selling it to? Does it solve any problem they're currently facing? How does it make their life easier? You can't come up with an effective sales pitch unless you answer these questions first. Once you've got that nailed down, you can explain how your product is perfect for their specific needs thus becoming a more empathetic and convincing seller. Another important skill is to listen and be quick on your toes. A prospective buyer may suddenly refute a problem you claimed they have and getting tongue-tied in that situation won't do you any favours.

Sounding desperate 

This could possibly be the most important rule: A salesperson who sounds like a salesperson will never sell anything. Starting a conversation with 'do you have a minute to discuss...’ rarely works. Neither does trying to sway the buyer with false statistics or acting overly trustworthy. Most consumers have dealt with different kinds of salespeople and have become adept at spotting manipulation and insincerity. Saying things like 'our product is the best in the market' without providing any evidence will surely ruin all your chances of making a sale. The best salespeople strike up conversations with their prospects and keep them engaged through genuine talk. Show that you actually care about helping them and you have a far better chance of landing the sale.

Not pitching to the decision maker  

Making a sales pitch is an intricate process and if you don't deliver it to the person(s) who have the true decision making power, you've just wasted your time and effort. This problem persists in B2B sales, where salespeople pitch to lower ranking employees because their superior was unavailable. In such scenarios, even if you do manage to convince that employee of your product's worth, it won't be worth anything because the buying power rests at the disposal of the manager. Instead, once you've proven why your product matters, ask those people to get you in contact with the true decision makers of the company. This way you'll even get to begin your sales pitch with a little good faith — a rarity if there ever was one.  

Easing up on the search for leads 

In the process of converting leads to paying customers, salespeople often ignore the importance of constantly exploring for leads. They may hit their sales quota ahead of schedule or have leads lined up in the sales funnel. But focusing on just transitioning leads and ignoring to maintain a constant inflow, will put you in a tough spot the moment the funnel runs dry. Because when that happens, you'll be left scrambling to regain the traction you had built and the accompanying pressure will hang over your head making your work that much harder.

Not evolving your sales method

Becoming a good sales person is all about learning from your mistakes and making sure that you don't repeat them. It's a protracted game of trial and error and there simply isn't any other way around it. You may follow the rule book to a fault and might still fail to make a sale. So to improve, analyse the nuances of each and every failed deal, identify the things that went wrong and devise ways to prevent their occurrence in the future. With the world evolving at such a rapid pace, it's crucial for salespeople, as it is for nearly everyone, to keep abreast of the latest advancements in technology and business trends. Failing to do so will get you kicked to the curb in no time.

A truly effective sales person is viewed by clients as a knowledgeable solutions provider, and not someone who's flogging products to meet quotas. That's the kind of salesperson you should strive to become and avoiding these common mistakes will help get you there.

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