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Crucial Advice for Sales Professionals: 5 Sales Mistakes to Avoid

During our sales training workshops we share the fact that some sales professionals have a tendency to ignore their mistakes and continue making the same blunders over and over again. Call it a lack of muscle memory, lack of focus, or perhaps, forgetfulness. However, with just a little bit of extra work and training, sales representatives can dramatically improve results and add more value to their team. Once they learn how to avoid repeating their mistakes and cultivate the right skills and behaviors, they will see maximum results.

The crucial sales tips below will put you on the right track and help you get the most of every sales encounter.

1. A lack of preparation

If you are constantly referring to your PowerPoint presentation or your notes, you are ill-prepared to engage your audience and ultimately gain their commitment to move forward. Before you set foot in that conference room, take the time to gather your facts, polish your presentation and practice your responses, while using your notes only as an occasional reminder rather than a life-saving device. It’s essential that you carefully research your prospects, their work history, annual reports, social media accounts, and maybe even speak to administrative assistants to gain a deeper understanding of their circumstances. Remember: it’s not just poor selling skills that prevent sales reps from making a sale. A lack of thorough preparation may be the problem.

You are dealing with well-educated and well-informed individuals who will explore alternative options before making a final decision. If you fail to wow them or establish close rapport from the start, they will quickly move on. And if you don’t prepare and do your homework, your lack of confidence will manifest itself through your responses, body language and facial expression, deterring your prospects from initiating professional collaboration with your organization. Therefore, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of doing all the groundwork before your meeting and covering your bases in advance. Once you are ready to address the toughest or most challenging questions coming from your prospects, you are well on your way to gaining more credibility and starting a new business relationship.

2. Failure to fully focus on your prospect during the meeting

Some over-zealous sales professionals get carried away and spend too much time extolling the virtues of their offerings and “bragging” about their skills, talents and qualifications, while ignoring the needs of their customers. Self-centered presentations may backfire and turn some individuals off, regardless how eloquent and impressive they are. The reason is simple. Your prospects don’t care about YOU. They care about THEIR organization, THEIR needs, THEIR challenges and THEIR well-being, rather than the significance of your products and services.

Instead of delivering long-winded presentations, try to initiate a conversation, spend more time listening to your prospects, and ask smart and probing questions. If you speak continuously and for an extended period of time, your prospects may lose interest and drift away, letting your presentation fall on deaf ears. Keep in mind that most people have a short attention span and can easily get bored if you drag things on. Your job is to convey your message in a compelling yet concise way that is easy to understand and internalize; then shine the spotlight on your customer. Put them in the driver’s seat by fully focusing on their needs and expressing sincere interest in their situation. Make sure they understand that you are not in it just for the money, but that you want to be the solution to their problem. By giving your customers your undivided attention, you put yourself in a strong position and increase your chances of success.

3. Arguing with a prospect

Engaging in an argument with a prospect may be one of the biggest mistakes salespeople make. When you have a client meeting, leave your ego at the doorstep. Don’t let it ruin your prospects and undermine relationships. While some sales professionals are very energetic, passionate and opinionated, they should do everything in their power to suppress their argumentative spirit and let their prospects get the upper hand. If a disagreement arises, let your prospect speak up and find out why she or he thinks that way. Try to see things through THEIR point of view. Embracing disagreement is a valuable way to learn new ideas and see some issues from a fresh perspective.

4. Failure to follow up after the meeting

Every sales professional should follow-up after the meeting. Send a brief email recapping the main points of your presentation and express gratitude to the prospective buyer for his or her time. Encourage your prospect to call or email you with questions and outline the next steps in the sales process. It seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of salespeople tend to ignore this simple yet crucial strategy.

5. Failure to polish your appearance or improve your manners

Whether you like it or not, looks count. A lot of people will judge you or assess your level of professionalism based on your appearance, your clothing and your manners. In addition to refining your sales presentation, you should invest time in polishing your look and projecting a successful image. Make sure you dial-in or arrive on time. Don’t forget to mute your cell phone and avoid potential distractions during your sales encounter. Also, be respectful of your prospect’s time and adhere to the time limit.