During my time at LevelEleven I have met and/or worked with hundreds of sales teams and I have seen many of the pitfalls they experience in their day-to-day work. With that in mind, I have consolidated these learning into 5 common sales pitfalls that I see salespeople make every day and some suggestions on how to avoid them. Enjoy!
1. Not practicing urgency
Too many sales organizations never insist on closing a deal for fear of being a nuisance. If you truly believe in your company, solution, and the value you provide, don’t be afraid to act. Drive urgency to your prospects around the use cases you have uncovered and business cases you have developed. To add structure, agree upon a sequence of events or close plan. Many times, I’ve failed to practice enough urgency early on and further delayed deals that were slowed down by events beyond my control. Don’t let that happen.
If this applies to you or a salesperson you know, be sure to check out this post on the 4 Ways to Create a Sense of Urgency with Your Sales Prospects.
2. Thinking price is the key issue
No one buys a price – ever! I have been in sales my entire adult life and have been tricked by thousands of buyers who said “price is the only issue”. Your buyer may seem obsessed with price, demand your lowest price and claim the budget cannot be violated. Despite all this, every one of them will pay a higher price if you convince them your product is worth their investment.
Instead of being an order taker, you should strive to be seen as an adviser to your client as they navigate the buying process. Staying focused on what matters with personalized scorecards for reps and team performance scorecards for managers can really help with this.
3. Too much focus on the “sales deck”
I have seen salespeople spend hours creating sales decks and presentations. They become so dependent on the content in the deck that they are no longer aware of vital buying signals or red flags in a sales process. Absolutely, you want a great deck, but never become so reliant on it that you are unable to see what is important.
If you’re ready to get back to the basics, you should watch this recorded session from Dreamforce 2017: Navigate the Sales Tech Noise and Get Back to the Basics.
4. Not asking the hard questions
It is my experience that salespeople miss opportunities to build trust by not asking the hard questions. This either comes from naivety or a lack of proper training. I witnessed this on a sales call with one of my top people. While he was presenting to the group, I sensed that the decision-maker wasn’t buying what he was saying. The tough questions were not being asked.
Here is an example: “Why would you do business with me when you have been working with our competitor for so long?” It might feel awkward at first, but if you don’t get answers to the hard questions upfront, it will hinder your ability to close the deal down the line.
This is a great example of how effective sales coaching can help reinforce the behaviors that drive results.
5. Ignoring key influencers
A mistake I’ve made many times is putting too much attention on the decision-maker and not enough on the influencers. To avoid this, ask the prospect, “Who else, other than yourself, will influence your decision and/or offer final input?” Find out why they are important to the decision and what is most important to them. Influencers are critical and often have the authority to push a deal across the finish line or far away from it – and quickly.
I hope you have found this overview helpful. If you have additional questions or are looking for a solution to keep your team focused on what really matters, then I encourage you to take a look at a Sales Management System like LevelEleven.