Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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Back to Basics: 5 Ways to Blow a Sale

September 28, 2014

Here are some sure-fire ways to minimize your chances of closing.

Todd Martin 072814 image 2The internet and CRM applications have altered our profession dramatically. I’ve said this many times. You know this. Everyone in the business – anyone who has been paying attention the last few years — is aware of it.

Your increased knowledge of your customers, though, sometimes leads to a sense of false confidence. It still takes more than a head full of details about a prospect to successfully navigate a potential sales transaction.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m very faithful to my CRM solution. I do any required maintenance and consult it frequently. It rewards me by giving me comprehensive, collaborative profiles of my business contacts.

Stepping Back

If you’ve been in sales for many years or decades, you know the unwritten rules. If you’re new to the profession, learn from the mistakes we old-timers have made. Here are some things you can do that will almost surely doom a sale.

Extol the virtues of your company’s products and/or services endlessly. Whether or not your prospects have done their homework, no one wants to hear a laundry list of features. They want to know if and how they’ll benefit and how problems will be solved.

Be too technical in your speech or your use of technology. Even if you sell sophisticated technology, you must find ways to explain it simply. Smart shoppers aren’t dazzled by things that sound impressive but which they don’t understand. If you’re good at reading people, which you should be if you’re in sales, you’ll know when you’re talking over peoples’ heads. So dial it back. Or, conversely, offer more complex information if your prospects seem impatient or frustrated.

Be overly familiar. You all know this guy (or gal). The hand on the arm within the first two minutes of your meeting. The close-talking (always respect personal space). The use of your prospect’s first name in every other sentence. This kind of interaction implies a.) sleaziness, b.) a contrived, unnatural manner, or c.) desperation. Or all three.

Show up too prepared. I harp on the importance of using your CRM solution to educate yourself well about your customers, and I do believe that this is critical. But you still have to call on your powers of intuition and flexibility to recognize when your planned approach isn’t working.

Lose your focus. Some people say that George H.W. Bush lost the presidential election to Bill Clinton in 1992 because he looked at his watch during a debate, signaling boredom or apprehension or apathy. If some of your sales meetings take place on crowded convention floors or at busy conferences, potential distractions abound. Keep your focus on your prospect. Don’t digress. Reinforce your understanding of what’s being said by the other party by using your active listening: Rephrase important points to remember them.

Not every potential sale is meant to be, of course. But try to maximize your chances by not doing the wrong thing.

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