A guest blog by Mike Montague, Certified Sales Trainer at Sandler Training Kansas City
Most businesses these days seem to take a sales or marketing approach to business development instead of a sales and marketing approach. We have found that these common mistakes in sales can cost you a lot of marketing dollars and a lot of lot revenue from potential sales. If you are looking for a better return on your marketing budget, you might try looking at your sales department
1. You don’t tightly target your prospects.
When business is slow, the temptation to tell your story to whomever will listen is great. After all, talking to someone – anyone – is more productive than sitting at your desk waiting for a potential customer to call. Right?
Maybe not. Be choosy about the people to whom you “tell your story.” Use your existing customer base to identify the characteristics of your best customers. With that information, develop a profile of your “ideal” customer. Then, search out prospects that most closely fit the profile. You may meet with fewer people, but you’ll close more sales. This profile should be developed with both the sales and marketing teams.
2. You’re not sufficiently selective about the prospects with whom you meet.
Expressing an “interest” in your product or service is not a strong enough reason to schedule an appointment with a potential prospect. Find out why prospects are interested and what sparked their interests before you schedule appointments.
If prospects’ “interests” aren’t backed by recognized needs or desires for your product or service - now or in the immediate future - then there’s no compelling reasons to meet with them. The objective of scheduling appointments is to start the selling process… not to make friends or have pleasant conversations. Use the marketing department to score the leads and nurture them until they are “sales ready”.
3. You don’t command control of prospect conversations.
When you get qualified leads from your marketing, you should prevent the conversations from meandering in several different directions, make it clear at the time you schedule appointments that the primary objective of the meetings is to determine if your product or service is appropriate to meet the prospects’ needs, and that the focal point of the conversations will be to explore and understand those needs. Buyers are more prepared and educated than ever… you don’t want to back-track, you want to help them take the next step towards a sale.
4. You’re not properly prepared for meetings.
All too frequently, salespeople take for granted hot leads generated by the marketing department. They forget about the hard work and dollars invested into creating them, and they assume the sales or don’t prepare like they should.
Can you answer the following questions about your next prospect appointment?
- What are the first three questions you’ll ask the prospect after you say, “Hello”?
- What questions will you ask to create rapport and get to know the prospect?
- What questions will you ask to explore the prospect’s need and home in on the underlying reasons for or events that precipitated the need?
- What commitment(s) will you ask for if there is a fit between what the prospect needs and what you can provide?
If you haven’t identified and rehearsed the questions you’ll need to ask to start the meeting, explore the prospect’s requirements, qualify the opportunity, and systematically move the meeting to an appropriate conclusion, then you’re NOT prepared. Hot leads should be treated no differently than self-generated leads.
5. You neither establish credibility nor demonstrate expertise.
When meeting with prospects, your job is to help them view their situations from different perspectives… and discover elements or aspects of their situations they didn’t previously recognize. To accomplish that, you must not only be knowledgeable about your product or service, but also about the specific reasons people would need it, the situations that would create the need, and the consequences of not adequately or appropriately addressing the needs.
And most importantly, you can’t just tell them! Prospects can get information from your marketing, but you must be able to ask questions in such a manner as to help prospects make those “discoveries” through a conversation. Here’s an example:
When you asked your production manager to measure the injection pressure differential between the beginning and end of the production cycle and determine to what extent it contributed to the casting inconsistencies, what did he report?
Educating your prospects through intelligent questions demonstrate your understanding of their problems and your grasp of what it takes to appropriately solve those problems. It is perhaps the single most important skill to master in modern selling.
6. You don’t ask “tough” questions.
To be valuable as a salesperson, you must be able to identify core aspects of situations, define elements at the center of controversies, uncover root causes of problems, discover carefully guarded information, and obtain rarely volunteered commitments. You won’t be able to accomplish any of those tasks without asking tough questions. Again, websites and marketing materials can explain features and benefits, but only great salespeople can ask and answer tough questions.
And, you must be willing and able to ask those tough questions confidently and consistently, knowing that you may not like the answers you obtain, because they are essential to qualifying or disqualifying the opportunity.
7. You rush to make presentations.
Many salespeople are too eager to make presentations. They view them as opportunities to establish the value of their products or services by demonstrating their unique aspects. You can’t establish value, however, until you have determined which aspects, if any, are relevant to the prospects’ situations.
The real purpose of presentations is to confirm your ability to deliver the solutions prospects are predisposed to buy. How do you know what prospects are predisposed to buy? You determine it by having really great conversations with your prospects. Until you know what and why you are presenting, you should refrain from making presentations.
Making presentations before thoroughly qualifying opportunities will almost surely guarantee that you leave those presentations not with decisions, but only prospects’ promises to “think it over.” Don’t cool off your lead from the marketing department, instead take it from warm to HOT by discussing the prospects situations and understanding why they are considering your help.
Make the most of your marketing and sales opportunities!
In some companies, the relationship between marketing and sales can be a tenuous one. However, if both departments work together, the harmony can take your organization to the next level. Marketing can become sales enablement specialist who create and nurture leads, and then escort them over to sales at the perfect time when they need individual consulting. The sales team can relax and become closing conversation masters that bring the expertise of a trusted advisor who solves problems and removes road blocks for prospects. Both departments can work together to create and atmosphere and environment that allows the customer to buy, and enjoy doing it!
This is a guest blog by Mike Montague, Associate and Certified Trainer at Sandler Training Kansas City. Sandler Training empowers their clients to achieve higher levels of success through innovative training courses in sales, management, and customer service for companies and individuals around the Kansas City area.