Sales is a tough profession -- an art that can take years of practice to master. That's perhaps why so many sales professionals struggle to find success, with the Harvard Business Review reporting that 63 percent of salespeople drive down performance versus producing a return on their employer's investment in them.
Most of these struggling reps share the same challenges. Throughout my years of sales coaching, I've identified ten top reasons that salespeople fail. Last week's column covered the top five: lack of discipline, failure to leverage happy clients, fear of determining buying intentions, presenting versus listening, and greater desire to convince than consult. Rounding out the top ten are these additional pitfalls that many sales reps, often with real potential, face.
Believing they know what's best for a prospect versus allowing prospects to arrive at that determination on their own. A misguided sales candidate in a recent interview explained he knew everything he needed about a prospect before walking in the door, and therefore didn't need to ask questions. That's the difference between leading the horse to water and forcing it to drink. The better strategy is to ask the right questions that allow your prospect to realize the need for what you're selling on their own.
Manipulating when objections are encountered. There are countless conniving objections tactics, which have been drilled into the heads of salespeople through the years. The best strategy is to deal with those objections upfront before they become issues for your prospect. Do this by asking questions and learning what's important to a prospect before you make your pitch. If you question whether you question enough, you probably don't.
Fear of rejection, which delays the sales process. Often, a prospect's stall is really an objection in disguise. Salespeople fearing rejection may continue the sales "dance" for months to avoid a "no." Learn to embrace rejection as the freedom to quickly move on to other prospects that have real need for your services.
Inability to advance the sale at each contact. Never end a sales meeting or call without gaining agreement on a next step that advances the sale in some way. A prospect is far less likely to decline a next meeting in person vs. via a follow-up phone call or email after the fact.
Locked into old beliefs. Too many sales professionals are locked into pre-existing beliefs about how sales works. The power of the Internet has dramatically changed the role of the sales rep. Many approaches that used to work no longer do. Top salespeople are open to making significant changes to their approach in order to generate significantly better outcomes.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover, a sales training and marketing firm based in Memphis, Tennessee, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).