No matter what type of business you're in, sales is the lifeblood of your business. We are constantly selling ourselves, and closing a deal requires a solid understanding of the art of selling.
Yet when I think about it, the art of selling is not as sophisticated or complex as we make it seem. In my experience, successful sales comes down to doing a few things right and avoiding a few common mistakes. The issue is that when we're in "sales mode", we make preventable mistakes and forget the positive habits that help transition a prospect into a customer.
The best remedy is awareness. By becoming aware of the mistakes most people make while in "selling mode," you can avoid getting in your own way.
As Chief Revenue Officer of SkyBell, I've certainly made and learned from quite a few mistakes. I've also received great results from the positive things I did, or didn't do. I've also seen others make the same mistakes over and over.
I've put all this experiences into a single article. Below are the five biggest mistakes most people make while in B2B sales mode. Take these to heart and avoid them. Your sales and revenue depend on it.
1. Talking Too Much
This is by far the most common mistake I see people make. Whether you're talking on the phone, or in front of a candidate, most salespeople talk too much. They fall in love with this idea that they can persuade with their conversational skills. This is backwards. I have found that the less I speak, the more deals I close.
Instead of talking, you should be listening. Asking questions and listening is the most effective and efficient way to learn exactly what your candidate is thinking. If you ask the right questions and you let them talk, they'll usually tell you exactly what you need to close the deal. And in many cases, they'll trust you enough to tell you the truth, not just give you an excuse that sounds good.
Lastly, human psychology works in such a way that people like making a decision about something. They don't like being sold. By talking less, you allow your candidate to sell themselves, which increases your chances of closing the deal since it's their idea and their decision.
Bonus tip: One of the best books for this topic is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I've read it fifteen times.
2. Forgetting to Ask Questions
Questions are the best way to obtain the information you need to close a sale. As noted above, too many salespeople talk at their candidate, instead of with them.
Questions help create a conversation feeling that builds trust and rapport. Questions help elicit the true feelings, constraints and motivations of your candidate. Questions keep your candidate doing most of the talking. Questions make you more likable.
I ask questions like: "What's important to you?" or "In a perfect world, what would a deal like this mean for you and your business?" I ask about the decision-making process and what requirements there are for making a decision.
Not only do these questions move you towards closing the deal, they also will give you insight into the reasons and emotions behind their interest. That's what you need to close a deal.
Many entrepreneurs fail to realize how much they over sell their products or services. The common mistake is to keep selling despite your prospect showing interest, or even agreement. Once your client is sold, you need to immediately shift gears towards helping them overcome the hurdles to move the deal forward. Don't keep selling your product.
For example, if you're selling a SAAS product, there may be some degree of integration needed to implement the technology. Instead of continuing to hammer the client on why your product is better than the competition, it's better to start helping them address the implementation. One possible next step is to schedule a meeting with the development teams of both companies.
Remember: keep your eye on the next step instead of getting stuck in the sales portion of the process.
4. Not Helping Your Prospect
In the case of most B2B deals with large companies, your buyer is not the only person making the decision. They often have peers and cross-functional team leaders that must also sign off. For example, operations teams and the IT department may also need to give their blessing before a product manager can buy your product or service.
While closing multi-million dollar deals with large companies, I've learned that your job as a deal-maker is actually to help your buyer/customer clear the obstacles they might have in order to get the deal done. This includes helping them sell the deal to their leaders and anyone else with a stake in the decision. If they need something to help sell their internal team, you should jump in immediately and help. Find out what they need and deliver it.
5. Following Up Too Often
When closing a deal, persistence is key. However, there's a fine line between persistence and annoyance. When a client has not responded for some time, it's always good to send a follow-up in a way that does not come off as desperate or needy.
When I do a check-in as a follow-up, I try to include relevant news about our business, product or industry that might help spark some excitement. I will also send something that could be helpful to them. I like helping people, and generosity is a great way to help someone while also checking in.
It's important to remember that big B2B deals can take a long time. It's best to keep a respectful yet responsive cadence with your contact.
Much like a sport or a hobby, the more you practice selling the better you'll be. The best way to improve is by learning from your mistakes. Create value out of every sales situation by using them as a learning opportunity. As you prospect, make sure you do your best to avoid these five mistakes when you shift into sales mode.