For advice on how to be a top-notch salesperson, you could easily pick out a title from the local bookstore’s offerings. And sometimes you can learn a thing or two from a colleague. But usually the best lessons are learned from your own mistakes.
Many professionals “are losing sales they should have made,” says Stephan Schiffman, president of the sales training firm DEI Management Group Inc. and author of The 25 Most Common Sales Mistakes and How to Avoid Them (Adams Media, $6.95). “They make fundamental mistakes that range from failing to listen to potential customers to failing to stay in touch after a sale.”
If you need to brush up on your sales skills, consider these common pitfalls. Steering clear of them can help keep you in the game — and in more clients’ offices:
Seeing the prospective client as an adversary. “Your goal as a salesperson is to create mutual trust,” says Schiffman. You can’t do that through rude or pushy behavior. Remember, this is someone you want to do business with. Instead, approach them with a friendly, customer-oriented pitch.
Not taking notes. “Note-taking is an essential part of the [sales] process.” Before you go in for the sell, it is critical to determine what your client’s needs are. Taking notes is the best way to show your clients that you are listening, and it also helps you determine if your product or service is right for them.
Rushing the sale. The sales process takes place in four stages: qualifying, interviewing, presentation and closing. Trying to leap from one stage to the next prematurely can be disastrous to a sale. It’s important to realize than it may take months from the first cold call to the closing, so be patient. A successful conclusion will be worth the time you invested.