Sales techniques: five mistakes you should avoid!
The world of sales is overflowing with statistics, data and figures that, as it often happens, are extremely valuable to understand what a profession is all about. For instance, the famous Pareto Principle, if applied to sales, tells us that 20% of sellers produce 80% of sales. This depends on a multitude of factors: the type and nature of the customer, the ability to build trust, which is essential to clinch a deal, preparation, suitable tools and motivation, the latter being far from negligible. Actually, some statistics say that nearly 50% of sellers have not chosen their career: apart from how rewarding the job can be, this can remarkably curb their motivation, which can be reflected in a performance that falls short of their potential. Other key factors for a seller’s success are his personal aptitude and a proper use of selling techniques, which may be not an exact science but knowing them and properly using them can make all the difference.
In 2019, selling is not necessarily harder than it used to be, but it certainly is different. Because customers/buyers are much more informed, they are perfectly aware of their problems and they also have a fairly exhaustive idea of the solution. They are ‘besieged’ by competitors, have very little time to waste and look for someone who may give them quick and easy, yet effective and tailored, solutions. This involves a full overhaul of the selling techniques and discarding the more traditional ways of pitching a product, a service and laying down a quote depending on the buyer’s requirements. In the B2B world, ‘winning’ a buyer over and clinching a deal means being able to go beyond one’s work and acting as a 360-degree consultant, one who can anticipate the buyer’s needs, prevent potential bottlenecks in the process and has the solution ready at hand, showing that he knows the product, the areas of application, the market and, why not, even the corporate purchasing mechanisms.
Selling techniques: the don’ts
Speaking of selling techniques, we are often confronted with long ‘to do’ lists to make the negotiation run smoothly, induce the customer to buy, then complete the operation by signing the agreement. However, the fact that every sale is different and the relational and communicational techniques used with a buyer may not be working with another one. Though the relationship with the customer shall always be adapted to each circumstance, it is easier then to linger on the ‘don’ts’ than on the positive aspects. Most importantly, before going into the details of the five typical mistakes, many of them could be avoided with the help of the right technological tools.
1. A purely ‘reactive’ attitude
Since properly responding to the customer’s needs is what makes all the difference, for practical purposes having the right answer at the right time can only be an advantage. But to maximise the chance of selling and be trusted by the buyer, you must do more than that: you have to anticipate his needs, set them in the context of his company, and provide solutions that do not only fall within the perimeter of the product, but that also take into account the market, the corporate processes and the business as a whole. Buyers do not expect sellers to be so widely involved, they are impressed at their proactivity and end up treating them as precious partners. On such grounds, clinching a deal is definitely easier.
2. Complicating the process
The active selling process, from the first contact with the customer to the signing of the agreement, must be as quick and smooth as it can be, because buyers have no time to waste. If we are going to use the so-called sales journey, we must make the procedure simple, easy and get straight to the point: you are not selling a product, you are selling a solution to a problem or, even better, you are selling the expertise of someone who has already gone through the same process and has had excellent results. Technology can be very helpful: having all the updated digital marketing materials in one single app (presentations, videos and brochures) will not only make your ‘moves’ easier than with the traditional techniques (still too closely bound to paper media), it will also make the process smooth and quick.
3. Using obsolete tools
Paper brochures that might be obsolete, paper quotes and agreements to be filled in by hand, calling the company many times to receive the authorisation to grant a special discount, confirming a quote to the customer that is eventually denied by the sales management, and much more. If you cling to traditional tools, you might overcomplicate the negotiation, you might have to postpone the finalisation many times, and give competitors free range. The solution: technology, that is, tools for the integrated management of the sales cycle.
Buyers like proactive sellers and sellers who do not waste their time. But they don’t like those who disturb them all the time in order to speed up the sales process. You have to strike the right balance: once again, a tool that tracks the status of a negotiation can be very, very useful.
5. Trying to sell everything to everyone.
This is a golden rule, regardless of the technological tools or personal aptitudes. Trying to maximise the results by concocting a need won’t work in a world where information comes from thousands of different sources at an impressive speed. You must understand the customer’s “real” needs, make his requirements your own, and solve his problem.