August 20, 2014

Four Mistakes by Sales Teams That Drive Prospects Away

sales team mistakes

We’ve all been there – the cold, impersonal, off-putting dinner time sales call. You might even joke about how bad it was with your team at work. The joke however, may be on you because unfortunately, many sales people (some in your business) are repeating blunders on the sale over and over again. You need to root them out of your sales team’s tactics.

These four are common mistakes made – avoid them in your business at all costs.

Sales Team Mistakes

Too Aggressive in the Early Stages

Sales people need to be go-getters and “whatever it takes to get it done” kind of people, but this passion, when unbridled, may scare off new prospects and cause customers to hesitate on your sales opportunity.

If a customer relationship is not established, a strong sales pitch may fall on deaf ears. Instead, re-channel aggressive sales pitch energy to develop a new focus on the customers. Remember that passion when you are on the phone calling lists of prospects. You will need it to get through the nine folks out of ten that decline.

By all means, push the envelope. Keep trying, but keep it friendly, positive and optimistic. Never turn your frustration or other negative emotions on your customers.

Two Ears and One Mouth

Sales conversations ought to follow the ratio of “listen twice as often as you talk.” Sales people can use their wonderful minds and hearts to build rapport, but in the process, the conversation must always be about the prospect, not about the sales person.

Customers can sense when you care about something. To show that you care about the customer’s needs and wants, stop talking and listen. Developing this skill of good listening requires you to make time in your life to hear what the customer is saying and “read between the lines” to uncover the customer’s unstated needs.

At first glance, a new customer is unknown but in the process of getting to know them, you might discover that the customer has larger unstated needs that will present bigger sales opportunities. The only way to find out is by listening to them.

Asking if the Customer has a Price Ceiling

Asking the customer to identify a budget or a range of how much they want to spend may kill the new sale before it’s final. Spend time talking with your new customer on topics of interest to them, and take an indirect approach to learning more about their business needs. This should eventually lead to the budget-related information you need to know, and is a much better way to go about it than brazenly asking about budget upfront.

If a sales person assumes too much, too soon, the prospect may hesitate, or worse, stop talking with the sales person. When talking about costs and willingness to pay, frame the conversation in terms of ROI (return on investment).  Talk about what the client will get, not what the client will pay.

If you can get the client excited about the positive difference that your solution will make for their business, they’ll be more likely to spend the money, instead of (inadvertently) making them focus on how much they’re paying and how much they’re giving up.

Assuming that “No” Means “Never”

Often when the customer says “No thanks,” what they really mean to say is, “No thanks, not at this time.” Over the long term, keeping sales fires burning in your network is crucial to success.

Be prepared to flag customers who are definite “No” types, and move them out of your list of regular follow-up calls. But unless they’ve said “Please stop calling us,” don’t give up on prospects for the long-term. Check in with the “No” customers after six months. Things might have changed at their company, or their business needs might have changed.

Eliminate these four mistakes from your sales strategies and you will be on your way to getting more sales. Be patient, work for the long-term, and be sure to log responses from all customers you are contacting directly. Remove the definite “No, never” prospects to keep the list strong.

Most important: Listen, listen, listen to the customer. Make the conversations about them and not about you. If you focus on your customers’ needs, you’ll never stress them out or annoy them – and they’ll keep coming back.

Phone Photo via Shutterstock

6 Comments ▼

Al Davidson


Al Davidson Al Davidson founded Manage Your Leads in 1989, where he helps deliver B2B lead generation and appointment setting solutions for clients around the world. Under his leadership, the company has generated over 7 million sales leads, resulting in millions of dollars to his clients.

6 Reactions

  1. I wish, wish, WISH a lot of the calls I receive would bear the above in mind. It really doesn’t work in their favour as much as it could if some of them would just…listen.

  2. I had a recent experience with the sales team of a large enterprise software company. I wanted to get a quote, make a decision, and start onboarding ASAP. I had already talked to an existing customer who had vouched for the product. However, they made me do a demo before getting me the quote. I was frustrated that they seemed to push me back a step to go through their “usual” steps (for which they might have been measured and had bonuses assigned). So while you can push too fast, if a prospect tells you to go faster you need to listen (also mentioned above).

  3. Surprisingly, that is common practice among sales agents – they talk and talk and talk without listening to the needs of their customers first. Then they ask for a budget and then push their way to make that sale. I am always taken aback by aggressive marketing and I’m pretty sure other people feel the same way.

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