There are millions of experts when it comes to teaching the art of sales and closing.  Whether you read Og Mandino, Zig Ziglar, or listen to the newest podcasts from men like Grant Cardone, the material is out there to find how to sell.

The problem, though, is that a lot of newly-minted entrepreneurs make a lot of mistakes when they go for the sale - and that costs them a lot in terms of time, effort, and, yes, money.  I'm intrigued by the "why" but I understand you, Dear Reader, are probably more concerned about the "how."

The "why" is complicated but boils down to one primary thing - they want the sale, either out of desperation or to validate proof of concept.  Either case leads to loads of problems - delivery times, scope creep, and a host of other troubles that most small companies cannot handle.  The result is that the profitable deal you closed turned into an unprofitable deal for one of the following reasons - and you need to note these and guard against them in every one of your sales calls.  Even better?  Anticipate that these are objections to some of your sales calls and follow ups and incorporate these issues into your own sales presentations.

·         Crawl before you can walk.  Sure, this goes against the basic "ABCs" of sales - "always be closing" - but the fact remains that you have to preface your closing pitches to the right time and place.  Sure, everyone gets a "lay down" sale once in awhile, but don't let your haste to close a sale turn your buyer off.  Any sale is a process and those processes need to be gone through.  Sales follow the same courses of action as healthy human relationships - you have to know her name before you ask her to marry you!

·         Overpromising or promising more than you can deliver.  THIS one trips up boatloads of small business owners every day, especially if they are testing out new ideas and product lines.  The simple solution is to have taken the time to document how work flows and be able to guarantee that to your customer.  Of course, we're all human and that means that we "might" be a little overzealous when testing out new products and services.  Here's your rule - underpromise and overdeliver - never the other way around.

·         Not getting the whole story.  Stop me if you heard this one - you closed the sale, only to find out that the customer left out a lot of critical details about their needs.  Welcome to scope creep.  No matter how much you need the sale or how great it might be to be associated with this company as one of their vendors, if you (or your sales team) doesn't get the whole story before the sale, then your whole contract is based on assumptions that will cost you time and money.  In the end, if the customer decides to cancel the deal, you could lose money as a result of wasted time and resources.

·         Selling them an apple when they need an orange.  One of my pet peeves is when companies or specialists try to shoehorn a product or service into doing something it was never intended to do.  Technology companies are filled with these sorts of poorly executed issues.  In their haste, many entrepreneurs, looking for a sale, try to stretch the limits of what their product or service can do.  If you're an accountant that doesn't handle bookkeeping, then don't attempt to sell bookkeeping.  (On the other hand, you should be able to partner with a company that does handle that and create a symbiotic relationship with them, passing referrals back and forth.)

Now, nowhere in the list above have I told you not to stretch yourself out.  Growth and income is directly proportional to a company understanding what their clients want and adapting to those needs and requirements.  At the same time, you need to be completely aware of the mistakes that haste and assumptions can create between you and your client.  Go for the close, just understand exactly what your customer needs before you try to solve a problem they don't have and lose a potential sale at the same time.

Published on: Mar 6, 2018