To be an entrepreneur you must make sales. Your business cannot survive without them.
Most businesses flounder not because of a bad idea or because of a lack of sustainable demand for products and services. Instead, they fail because of a lack of proper marketing and sales efforts. Marketing is a multichannel endeavor while sales has just one purpose: to bring in more client and customers.
The ability to sell isn’t taught in school and it doesn’t come with most college degrees. No wonder entrepreneurs struggle to keep the revenue coming in.
Sales Blunders You Should Never Make
1. Start Without a Plan
Selling should be a planned and organized effort. You can’t take chances with success. The trick is to work backwards. A 5-year revenue goal breaks down into an annual revenue goal, which then breaks down to a monthly goal, a weekly goal, and eventually a daily target.
Let’s say you plan to bring in $100,000 in revenue in 5 years. It works out as follows:
- To reach $100,000, you need to make $20,000 per year.
- Which leads you to $1666.67 per month.
- That requires making $416.66 per week and $83.33 per day.
The point is that by calculating the revenue you need by day week, month and year will help you plan realistic sales goals to deliver what you need.
2. Lack the Proper Tools
If you are in business, you have to sell. Make sure you have the right tools to help you accomplish this. You’ll need customer relationship management tools to handle your ongoing interactions with customers, clients and prospects. This will help you keep track of sales, leads and when a followup is needed. And you’ll need technology that lets you access information on the run and check on data about your clients at a glance. It’s also almost mandatory these days to have a website allowing people to learn quickly and easily what you do and how you can help them.
Having said that, the most important tools you can take with you is your presence of mind, wit, and a sense of humor.
3. Talk Instead of Listening
The first rule in sales is to listen to your customers. Say hello. Sit across the table. Ask questions. Sit back and listen. In time, you’ll get the opportunity to suggest, talk, recommend, and explain. Until then, try to listen to what your clients have to say. Ask them what troubles them? What keeps them up at night? What are their biggest problems? How much does solving those problems mean to them and their businesses?
Sales isn’t always about making a pitch. Sometimes all you have to do is to listen and then ask.
4. Waste Time on the Details
When you get the opportunity to talk, explain, recommend, suggest or show off your expertise, don’t make the usual mistake of launching into gory details of how your solutions work. For instance, when helping to create a digital marketing plan, don’t bother explaining how AdWords works, how social media works, and how link-building, or blogging outreach programs work.
Clients aren’t paying for explanations. They are paying for solutions. So don’t give them details they don’t want or need. Tell them how you can solve their problems. It’s the only answer the really care about.
5. Take No for an Answer
Countless sales opportunities are lost when entrepreneurs simply take no for an answer. But what prospects are really saying is that they don’t understand how a new solution can help them. They lack the experience to see the value you offer.
In the digital marketing example above, a potential client might say:
This won’t work.
It’s too complicated. There are way too many things to do.
It’s not how we do things here.
We’ve been running newspaper ads for all our lives, and they work fine.
At this point many entrepreneurs might give up. What’s the point, they ask themselves. They’re not interested. But instead, why not answer their objections? For instance, as a response to the statements above, you might say:
It works. I’d like to show you examples. Please decide after that.
Yes, it’s complicated. Why don’t you just leave it to me (us)?
Let’s start something new. If the same old thing was working for you, you wouldn’t be talking to me today, would you?
Newspapers are dead. They might work fine but they are expensive. Allow me to show you how smart marketing is done.
Never back off. Never allow clients to push you away with unreasonable responses.
6. Belittle Competitors
Never, ever bad mouth the competition. It reeks of insecurity, and it tells the client that you aren’t sure of yourself, your products and your business.
Instead, when asked about the competition, you might politely say something like:
Oh, they are awesome folks. We love them. It’s just that they cater to enterprises better and we do a great job with small businesses.
7. Ignore the “One Call, Three Referrals” Rule
Your sales meeting with a potential client might end in a variety of ways.
First, of course, you might make the sale. But, if not, the meeting may result in an opportunity to meet again in the future. It might also end with an opportunity to collect some possible referrals if the potential client says emphatically they aren’t interested in your service.
As an entrepreneur and leader of your business, it is your responsibility that on of these three outcomes occurs. So be sure to ask for one of the three before you leave a sales meeting.
8. Forget to Follow Up
Statistically, only one out ten potential clients will buy from you after the first meeting or conversation. For the rest you will need to do followups. Forgetting to do followups with these people is leaving money on the table. Be sure to schedule meetings with these potential clients to speak again about your product or service.
Again, thinking statistically, if you met 10 clients every single business day for twenty days out of the month, you’d be talking with with 200 potential clients. Assuming only 10% of these clients buy from you, that leaves a list of 180 clients each month or 2,160 clients a year representing a huge additional sales potential.
9. Refuse to Do Right By a Prospect
There are times a prospect wants products or services you don’t offer. Other times your price is simply too high to fit a potential client’s budget.
You see the client still has a problem, but you can’t profit from solving it. Some would say it’s time to walk away.
But wait. Aren’t there companies that gave you referrals even after they told you they couldn’t use your services? How do you feel about these companies today?
So why not bring in a competitor who can solve the prospects problems? You won’t be losing an opportunity. You will be making a friend.
10. Say Yes to a Deal You’ll Live to Regret
There are times when a client wants something unethical, requests that you do some work for free, asks for inappropriate personal and professional favors or tries to talk you down in price beyond what you can afford.
Don’t say yes just to make a sale. There are plenty of fish in the sea.
Which of these blunders have you been guilty of?
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