“Good morning, I have a GREAT offer for you!” sounds familiar? No worries, we won’t be talking about obvious mistakes made by salespeople. We believe you already know them. In this text, we present some less common sales killers your salespeople probably commit in their everyday work.
Tracking and fixing mistakes of sales reps is not always easy. There are some fundamental, oh-so-obvious lapses like reading from a script, not asking open-ended questions, multitasking during a call, and so on. Those are bad but if noticed early, can be eliminated pretty quickly.
In the text below, we present the biggest mistakes your salespeople make inside sales calls. You may not be aware of them or doubt they happen, but we assure you - they are real! And they’re hurting the efficiency of your sales calls right now, so you need to help your reps eliminate them. The sooner you start, the better.
Also, there’s an important thing you need to keep in mind. The gap between top-tier performers and mediocre salespeople is most visible in the way they conduct sales conversations (the first contact, demo calls, follow-ups, and so on). Outside of that, they do pretty much the same. So, let’s get to it.
1. They don’t ask about the prospect’s budget.
The sales process is not only about money, but obviously, this part can’t be missed. Your reps need to ask about money, period. They have to know the prospect’s budget to be able to move forward with the sales, prepare the right offer and successfully pitch the product. Without this information, their future work with a potential client will be full of "ifs" and "maybes".
All this means a waste of time for both a rep and a prospect, whose needs and expectations won’t be met. Reps often tend to avoid this topic for various reasons - they feel uncomfortable asking about the client’s financial situation or don’t want to sound inquisitive. This kind of attitude is wrong and needs to be fixed, for example - by coaching sessions.
2. They don’t adjust to the prospect’s way of communicating.
Being perfectly prepared won’t save your reps a closed deal if they won’t try to talk and partly also behave as their potential client. They need to know how to carry on a conversation with different people; and in this case, it’s not about presenting different values of the product. Within the first few seconds of each sales call, salespeople need to “detect” who they are dealing with.
To put it simply - your salespeople should make use of mirroring. That includes a subtle imitation of the different prospects' speech patterns: the way they speak (more relaxed, strictly professional, etc. - there are numerous options), what words they use, how their voices sound, and so on.
Reps need to adjust to that and change the way they speak accordingly. When a rep’s voice sounds somewhat like the person they’re on the phone with and when they use similar language, it’s easier to build a rapport with potential customers. It positively affects the way a prospect feels and thinks about a rep. Combine all this with a professionally conducted sales calls and let success happen.
3. They discuss too many (business) problems at once.
Once the sales world was obsessed with asking questions and going deep into conversation. It had to be all about the customer, discovering his or her needs and desires. This approach is still right, but your reps can’t overdo it. A perfect formula for success doesn’t exist, however, following common sense, the ideal number of questions should lead to discussing 3-5 customer problems during one sales call. It’s not about getting all the information in a few minutes.
Salespeople should engage prospects in the conversation and get to know what solutions they’re looking for, but without having too much on their plates. They won’t have time to use that knowledge and information in any way and, most importantly, at the end of the conversation, they won’t have time to discuss the next steps and all the “logistics” around the sales process.
4. They are unable to present product features as benefits.
During sales calls, reps would go on and on about all of the features, options, different plans, new offers, etc. They’ve done their research, they don’t sound scripted of course, and they know the potential client’s needs. But somehow while talking on the phone, they don’t relate to the impact that the product can have on a prospect’s business processes.
If they ask the right questions and identify business problems, the perfect next step should include selling future benefits that your offer brings and pointing to the problems it solves, not just listing all the available features. It’s nice that your product is so complex and you work hard to improve it every day, but in each sales call, all that matters is what value the product brings to this particular client. Nothing more, nothing less. To support your reps in this field, check 7 psychological tricks which help convince clients to buy.
5. They are being too technical.
The product knowledge and familiarity with all its technical features are important, but when your reps love technical information too much, that doesn’t lead to any good. Salespeople need to let go and stop being strictly feature-heavy, especially at the beginning of each sales process. Most likely, their first contact from a company won’t be happy to discuss this new technical feature if they don’t know how the product can enhance their business.
Instead of attacking the prospect with super-advanced information, they should go in-depth about the prospect’s business problems (but discuss just 3 to 5 issues, remember!) and talk more about the value that the product brings.
Reps tend to talk a lot about technical stuff because it makes them feel they’re doing a great job by delivering all “vital” information and answering all of the prospects’ questions in advance. Sadly, it’s just a waste of time.
6. They go on with the call even if the connection is bad.
This may sound surprisingly simple, but salespeople still do that. They’re so focused on making the sales call happen that they carry on the conversation even if the line is not clear. Please, raise your hand if you have never tried talking to someone while struggling with the connection, and walking around the office, with the hope of finally hearing the other person. Yep, that’s what this is all about.
We all do that, and unfortunately, your reps do it too, during sales calls at work. No further explanations needed. It’s just wrong, unprofessional and shows no regard to the prospect’s time.
7. They don’t take advantage of the silence.
Moments of silence are rather common in sales calls, or they could be. However, most salespeople are afraid of silence, and they feel uncomfortable when no one talks for one second. They try to fill the pauses at any cost, by changing the topic or raising unrelated questions.
Especially after discussing a price, delivering other important info or asking a pointed question, they should just pause and let the silence sink in. Trying to nudge the prospect's words in a particular direction, hindering their understanding of what they just heard or rambling on to explain why the tool costs what it costs are pointless. Actually, it’s the best way to lose the prospect’s trust. After a deliberate pause, your rep can present all of the advantages of the product and how they relate to one’s business. They can also take these few seconds to plan the next step.
8. They talk too much.
It’s no mystery that sales calls are about talking; however in many cases, reps take it too seriously and they keep on talking, no matter what. They don’t listen and are uninterested in what their interlocutor has to say. They just babble to check off all the points they have in mind and feel better about themselves (“I’ve done it all” sort of attitude).
In lieu of a constant monologue, reps should work on their talk-to-listen ratio and ideally reach a golden proportion of 43:57 (data from SalesHacker). It means top-notch salespeople speak on average 43% of the conversation and let the prospects speak the rest of the time - 57% of it. Letting the customers express themselves shows them you care about their opinion and really try to find a solution to their problems, not just selling what you have to sell.
9. They talk too fast.
This mistake is strictly connected to the previous one regarding talking too much, as they usually occur together. Reps try to include as much information as possible into one sentence, which results in an uncontrolled stream of words without value for the customer. It can also be simply caused by stress or lack of confidence. When one's speech speeds up it makes it difficult for interlocutors to understand what they’ve just heard. How can your potential customer make any purchase decision, if they can't comprehend the whole message? Check winning advice for fast talkers, brought to you by inc.com.
There are many techniques that help to deal with speaking too quickly - to be done just before placing a call or in the form of weekly exercises. Before making a call, reps can try lowering their voices and saying a few extra words slowly, like during a rehearsal. They should think of all the commas, full stops,and semicolons that appear in each sentence and verbalize them... in silence. For those who really struggle with “motormouths”, public speaking workshops and a hint of believing in themselves will do the job.
It’s all up to you.
People, in general, are afraid of rejection and sometimes will do everything not to get brushed off, and that includes sales reps. That’s why for you as a sales leader, it’s really important to track all mistakes made by your salespeople and coach them on how to avoid these lapses. It will not only boost your sales but most importantly - will make your coworkers more confident and more willing to work hard to hit their quotas.