6 Common Sales Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs
We’ve all been there— you think it’s going great with a potential buyer when the deal suddenly dies. And it’s even worse when you find out the buyer went with your competitor even though you have a superior product. So what happened?
Could it be your actions or sales communications are sabotaging your efforts?
The truth is, how we communicate with a buyer matters just as much as what we communicate.
We gathered sales thought leaders to discuss the “sins” of sales communications that kill deal momentum and buyer trust, along with simple adjustments you can make to improve your outcomes. Listen in as Kyle Parrish, VP of Sales at Mixmax, Michael McEuen, Head of Growth at Dooly, and Mark Tanner, COO and Co-Founder, Qwilr discuss— and debate— common sales blunders.
Sales Communication Sin #1: Spending too much time talking about your brand
Sadly, only 13% of buyers believe a salesperson understands their needs.Josiane Feignon
When you’re prospecting and you lead with something about your brand, you risk losing your buyer’s attention and distancing them from your message. It’s like attending a cocktail party and avoiding the guest who talks only about themselves. A better approach is to lead with something of importance to your buyer, to spark interest and advance the conversation.
Of course, there are appropriate times to talk about your brand— but make it meaningful and relevant to your buyer. Relate things about your company that speak specifically to your buyer’s challenges or concerns. For example, rather than simply stating where your offices are, talk about how your field offices are in the same time zone as your buyer, which provides commonality in work hours and faster response times.
Ultimately, your buyer does want to learn more about your brand. Asking questions like, “What do you know about our company?” keeps the conversation focused on your buyer and not just about you.
Sales Communication Sin #2: No follow-up plan during discovery
80% of won deals required five or more follow-up calls after a meeting.Marketing Donut
We polled our webinar audience asking the question, “Do you book your next meeting during your discovery call?” 29% answered with a negative response.
Remember, the goal of a discovery call is to have another conversation— you should be booking your next meeting during this call. “Open your calendar during the call and book it in the moment, while they are engaged,” commented Mark.
Are there exceptions to pre-booking a call? Yes.
Our panelists advised if you realize a deal is not a good fit, walk away. “Your objective as a salesperson is to define if this deal is a winnable opportunity— deals are won and lost in discovery based on the questions you’re asking and next steps you’re taking,” said Kyle.
And what if your buyer replies with, “Follow-up with me in three months?”
“Unless they have a valid reason for delaying the discussion, this is not a real deal. Without a commitment from the buyer, it only wastes your time— blow up the deal right then and there,” advised Kyle. “Quantifying the buyer's problem will also help to keep the deal moving forward,” he said. And speaking of quantification...
Sales Communication Sin #3: Failure to quantify the buyer’s problem and your solution
74% of buyers choose to work with brands who demonstrate valueForrester/Mediafly
Often a hot topic in sales circles is opening up the ROI discussion with your buyer. We polled our webinar audience to learn what the general practice is here. The results? 60% said yes they discuss ROI in sale presentations, 18% said no, and 22% weren’t sure how to demonstrate ROI.
Our panelists had much to say on the topic of ROI.
“If you’re not understanding your buyer’s problem and putting some degree of quantification towards it, you’ll likely have a hard time closing that deal,” said Mark. “ROI isn’t always clean or perfect, but trying to quantify your solution is important to your buyer’s journey.”
“‘ROI’ doesn’t necessarily mean dollars; it can also equate to hours saved or a pain ‘thermometer’ of how the problem is affecting the entire team,” commented Mike. “ROI framing is also a must when a CFO is involved in signing off on the contract— you have to speak his or her language. The VP and CFO levels need that business justification and you need to help your prospect put that together,” he added.
“Quantifying your solution will set you apart from other sales professionals. If you can show how your product improves their situation, you WILL get to the next step. Be the expert and trusted advisor for your buyer.”Kyle Parrish, VP of Sales, Mixmax
Additionally, common terms were clarified: ROI is the business case; quantification is the magnitude of the problem. As an example, if you have a $1,000,000 problem and a $50,000 SaaS solution— that’s phenomenal ROI! Sellers, quantify your solution and make your ROI case— Qwilr also has a fully customizable ROI calculator to assist with your efforts.
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Sales Communication Sin #4: Sending generic sales materials
64% of buyers look for personalized materials and 25% dismiss generic collateralQwilr’s Buyer Experience Study 2021
Best practices for your sales collateral: you always want to put your best foot forward and make sure the materials you’re sending out benefit the conversation— generic materials don’t always do that. If you know what your buyer cares about, customize your materials to speak to those interests. Proposal templates can be a huge time-saver so you’re not creating from scratch.
Our speakers also clarified there are two types of personalization: using a generic template and adding basics like name and brand logo. The second level is when your materials reflect the conversations that you’ve had— you’re communicating you listened to your buyer and you are including the information that speaks specifically to their needs and helps them make an informed decision. Additionally, Mark advised spending a few minutes writing a custom intro to show your buyer you care— “that’s the level of personalization that the buyer experience stat is referencing,” he said.
Our panelists also strongly advised sellers to use the information obtained in the discovery call to tailor their sales materials. “Sell to their issues and get them excited about the next step. If you’re not solving the problem that they talked about in discovery, you’ve missed your opportunity and that’s what loses deals,” commented Kyle.
The bottom line: listen to your buyer and show them that you heard their challenges and objectives by sending a personalized proposal.
Sales Communication Sin #5: Not acknowledging other stakeholders and deal influencers
An average of 7 people are involved in most buying decisions. Additionally, in 10% of deals, a CFO joins a sales call uninvited and unannounced.Gartner
Our panel agreed that a salesperson’s job is to talk about processes and timelines, which should also reveal the stakeholders and influencers. Make it a point to learn about their processes for the decision, which then helps map out your timeline for closing the deal.
When is the right time to ask who else is weighing into a deal?
“Right after a demo is an ideal time to understand the full buying committee. Additionally, don’t count on your champion to resell your solution correctly. Their pain points may not be the same as the other stakeholders— it’s in your best interest to get to the other stakeholders and speak about your solution in their language, whether that’s ROI or something else,” said Mike. As an example, when you’re selling a technical solution, oftentimes your silent deal killer is operations. To this group, talk about post-sale: the implementation needs to be smooth and the solution reliable,” he added.
When you address the other deal stakeholders from their point of view, you’re less likely to encounter deal delays or vetos.
Sales Communication Sin #6: Negotiating over email
Win rates dramatically drop when negotiations are via emailGong
A word of caution on this sin, as negotiations can be subtle and may not be limited to price. As an example, your buyer may ask for longer terms, such as net 45 instead of net 30. Once you consent, you’ve opened the door to more negotiating.
How should you handle subtle (and not so subtle) negotiations?
Our panel was in agreement that if you’re going to negotiate, get something back. Never give anything without getting something equal or greater in return— don’t make a unilateral concession. That’s hard to do via email. Negotiating live allows you to see a reaction and emotion, but there’s no nuance when you negotiate via email.
Finally, time kills all deals and email adds time. Discuss concerns with your buyer live whenever possible.
Actioning the information and making improvements
“Small improvements over time lead to stunning results”Robin Sharma
A big part of sales is optimizing and always improving. You now know the “sins” of sales communications, now put what you’ve learned into action— make a commitment to working on the areas where you may have gaps. Remember, there is no end game in sales; we all have room to improve and grow.
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