by Jeffrey Gitomer
Not making enough sales? Want to know why? Easy, you’re making mistakes, big mistakes. The problem is that salespeople and entrepreneurs don’t want to know (much less admit) what they are. Here’s the list with a few caveats…
This list will hurt. It is as eye opening as a double espresso in the morning.
This list is long. It will take 4 weeks to complete it. It may take you years to conquer it.
This list is reality. Reality from the only perspective that matters the customer’s.
This list is about sales. Your sales.
This list is about success. Your success.
My challenge to you is that you read this list and only think of yourself. The mistakes of you made this morning are your opportunities for greatness this afternoon if you admit your mistakes. If you have the guts to rate your own reality. Here goes 29.5 BIG mistakes and the success tactics that will turn them into sales.
How to Cure Them
1. Knowing everything. All salespeople think they know everything. To the prospect (or anyone else) there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Confidence permits a sale to take place, arrogance prevents it. Success tactics: Leave “I am the greatest” at the doorstep. Think “you” not “me.” Look for ways you can help. Listen for problems. Look for and offer solutions. A big part of professional sales is humility. Employ it.
2. Thinking the customer is stupid. Salespeople are the smartest people of the world. They use timeworn sales tactics (which anger and alienate the prospect). They talk down to the customer. Success tactics: Think of your prospect as the smartest person in the world. The only thing he doesn’t know is how your product will help him, or help serve his customer. All you have to do is share the information and a sale is sure to follow.
3. Not making friends first. People would rather buy form someone they know and like. If the prospect doesn’t know you very well, the likelihood of a sale is diminished. Success tactic: Find something to laugh about. Find one link with the prospect. Something you both know about and like.
4. Prejudging the prospect. If you prejudge the prospect by his surroundings or the type of character you think he is you will miss half your sales. If you think “he won’t buy,” or “he doesn’t look like the type,” you’re setting yourself up to fail. Success tactics: The worst judgment you can make is a “pre” judgment. Think “open mind equals open wallet” and you will lose all prejudgements. Look for individual characteristics. Don’t try to “type” the person. Sell yourself on “he will” not “he won’t.” Set your mind to help everyone.
5. Thinking the customer is broke or doesn’t have enough money. The worst of the prejudgements. Missing opportunities because of judging a book by it’s cover. True story A farmer, dressed in seedy overalls, went to a car dealership to buy a truck. No one would wait on him because the “street smart” car salespeople new it would be a waste of their time. Finally the car salespeople made a rookie go a wait on the farmer. The farmer said, “I want me a new truck.” The salesman asked, “What price range were you looking at?” The farmer reached into the top bib pocket of his overalls, pulled out a stack of $100 dollar bills, and said “I only brought $15,000 with me, but I’ve got plenty more back at the farm.” . Success tactics: List every way people can afford to begin using what you sell. Create and expose needs so high that “money” becomes second to “need” The sale is driven by need not money. Money satisfies need.
6. Thinking your price is too high. If you think the price is too high, the first thing you’ll do is make excuses, or try to sell too hard. Success tactics: Make a list of 25 reasons your price is fair. Sell value. Sell cost to use over long term. Sell service. Sell yourself. Sell help.
The Nightmare Continues
My challenge to you continues as well – read this list and only think of yourself. The mistakes you made this morning are your opportunities for greatness this afternoon but only if you admit them. If you have the guts to rate your own reality. Brace yourself:
7. Poor presentation skills. Fidgeting, poor enunciating, verbal hesitating, monotone salespeople don’t make many sales. But they don’t know it because they can’t see themselves. Success tactics: Take a fellow salesperson with you just to evaluate your presentation. Ask him to be brutally honest. Join and involve yourself in Toastmasters. Record yourself and listen to it in your car.
8. Not asking the right questions. A sale is made (or lost) based on the questions you ask. Success tactic: Ask prospects questions that make them evaluate new information. Ask questions that qualify needs and finances. Ask questions that separate you from your competition.
9. Selling before needs have been established. Why tell the prospect anything about what you’re selling until you’ve established what is needed? Sounds elementary, but at this moment millions of sales people are doing it. Success tactic: Develop some form of needs assessment. A test, a factory tour, a series of ten questions. Something that will draw out specific needs before a sales presentation is made. (See #8)
10. Lack of knowledge about how your product is used. Not a bunch of boring features and benefits. Real world information. Success tactic: Spend a few days at the customer’s place of business observing (and working with) your product. You can learn more spending a day at a customer’s than you can on 1,000 sales calls.
11. Selling in terms of yourself, not the customer. Not saying how you help. Know the kinds of problems you solve. Know the types of needs you fill. Sell that. Success tactic: Tell stories about how other customers have succeeded using your product or service. Don’t worry about your commission, think about how much help your service will be, the sale will follow.
12. Talking too much. Salespeople are under the huge misconception that they have to talk a lot in order to sell something. Nothing could be further from the truth. They must give the prospect a chance to buy. They must ask a lot in order to sell something. Success tactic: Ask questions at least 50% of the time. Draw out responses that keep the prospect dominating the conversation and giving buying signals.
13. Being too pushy. Pressing forward makes the prospect doubt you and run for cover. Forced sales get canceled 85% more than any other type. There’s a fine line between a “close” and a “force.” Success tactic: Relax. Backoff. Ask more questions to involve the prospect, and help him buy.
14. Not making it easy to buy. Customers don’t want to fill out forms or wait in line. Customers don’t want (or need) to know your problems. Don’t let your situation interfere with the ease of product delivery. Success tactic: Do it all. Fill out every form, don’t keep anyone waiting, personally deliver what you sell and set it up. “I’ll take care of that.” is your new motto.
We’re about half way. Painful isn’t it? While there are no “quick fixes,” there are adjustments you can make that will begin to show some immediate improvement. Start by adjusting your attitude. It’s the single biggest results-oriented adjustment you can make.
Go back through the first 14 items and you will see that most of them are attitude driven. If you’re serious about self-improvement, you must begin with the right outlook.
Jeff Olson says, “The ugliest answer for where you are, is the one you must deliver to yourself.” I will add to that, “Your attitude will allow you to get ugly with yourself, and see a way to make it pretty.” Go get some makeup. Go get a mirror. Go.
Oh No – Not More
My challenge to you continues read this list and only think of yourself. The mistakes you made this morning are your opportunities for greatness this afternoon but only if you admit them. If you have the guts to rate your own reality. Read on and reap:
15. Being unprepared for objections. You know what the objections are. You haven’t heard a new one in years. Success tactic: Brainstorm solid responses with the entire sales team & upper management. Then work the answers into the presentation.
16. Downing the competition. It’s so easy to slam the other guy but it makes you look bad. It also creates doubt in the mind of the prospect. Doubt = delay. Success tactic: Sell for yourself, not against someone else. Substitute the words “industry standard” for competition. Never say one bad word about anyone else ever.
17. Arguing. Everyone loses an argument. The fool is the one who thinks he won. Success tactics: Agree first. Say, “I used to believe that, then _____(explain what changed your mind)_______ happened, and it changed my feelings about it.” Rule of thumb: Argue with your customers and your competition will settle the dispute.
18. Lying. Not big lies. Just “over promising.” Telling the customer “what he wants to hear” will get you a sale and into big trouble at the same time. The customer will eventually find out the truth making you look like even a bigger jerk. Success tactic: Tell the truth even if it hurts. The truth is short term pain a lie can cause permanent injury.
19. Being late. Lateness says I don’t respect your time. Lateness sets a tone about you, your company and your delivery. Success tactic: Set your watch 15 minutes ahead. Make your appointments 5 past the hour. If you’re going to be late, call ahead even if it’s just two or three minutes, it shows respect to call.
20. Showing greed. It shows. Too much pressure, poor attitude, impatience, thinking commission instead of help. Success tactic: Be cool. Just help the other person. If you help enough, all the money in the world is yours.
21. Poor followup. Not clearly establishing or tying down the next step in your sales cycle. Followup is 80% of sales. Poor followup guarantees one thing – poor results. Success tactic: If it’s a call back, make the prospect mark it in his or her calendar. When the customer says, “Call me back Tuesday at 11am,” you say, “Great, let’s mark our calendar’s right now, and I’ll call you at 11 on the dot.”
22. Thinking the customer will return your call. Right, and Santa will visit you on Groundhog’s Day. Success tactics: Get the administrative person on the other end to give you the best time to reach the decision maker. Call them back at the best time.
Mistakes? Who Makes Mistakes?
Reality is the grimmest when it’s yours. This list has generated more responses of, “thanks for the wake-up call,” than I could have imagined. Here is the last of the 29.5 biggest mistakes that salespeople make and the success tactics that will turn them into sales.
My challenge to you continues. Read this list and only think of yourself. The mistakes you made this morning are your opportunities for greatness this afternoon only if you admit them. If you have the guts to rate your own reality. Rate on:
23. Not putting in enough time or using your time wisely. Sell when others are available. Plan or push papers when others are sleeping. Not bringing new ideas to the table. People buy creative and new. Success tactic: List the top five things that you do best. List the top five things that will lead you to money. Spend 80% of your time doing those things.
24. Getting ready to get ready. Wasting time. Sales time. Coffee machine, talking to everyone in the office about the weekend or the ball game, personal calls, reading the paper, and assorted other non-sales-productive moves. Success tactic: Set specific time allotment goals to prepare. Set minimum amount of time you must be face-to-face with prospects.
25. Not networking enough or effectively. Networking is the most powerful business tool of this decade. You can build your base of influence and a pool of prospects at the same time. Success tactics: Go to the meetings and events of your best customers. Make a two year plan of where to get involved and how much time you’re willing to commit.
26. Keeping personal information positive. No one wants to hear about your problems. No one wants to hear what went wrong. Negative talk creates a negative impression. Success tactic: Talk about things you did that were successful. Talk about things you did that helped others. Talk about things you have in common with the prospect.
27. Playing general manager of the universe. Since salespeople already know everything, they try to get in the middle of things that are none of their business. The more you mind your own business, the more business you’ll get. Success tactic: Stop trying to solve everyone else’s problems in the world. Stick to your own and those of your customers that relate to your product.
28. Blaming everything and everyone except yourself. Don’t worry about whose fault it is. If you could have done something to prevent the problem, it’s your fault. Other people or things are just an excuse. Take responsibility for making it happen. Success tactic: Carry a small mirror with you. Every time you start blaming people take out the mirror and look at it. That’s who’s to blame.
29. Thinking you’ve got it all together, when you really don’t. It’s important to believe yourself. It’s dangerous to fool yourself. Success tactics: Take a personal inventory of weaknesses every 30 days. Make a plan to correct two at a time. Believe you are the best, but don’t say it, prove it.
29.5 Celebrating or bragging too soon. Don’t tell me what you’re going to do, tell me what you did. Success tactic: Deposit the money in the bank first, then let the check clear, then celebrate.
Whew! That’s a pretty long list of mistakes. How many fit you? Too many?
Here’s how to make the most of your shortcomings. When you assess yourself, do it privately first. Then ask a coworker or fellow salesperson someone you respect. Someone who has seen you work. Have them assess you. Compare theirs with yours. You may not agree with their assessment, but before you shrug it off in your “know it all sales arrogance” their perception is reality. So is your prospect’s.
Make a specific plan for each weakness. Work on your worst one first. Spend 20 minutes a day on it thirty days. Then go on to the next. If you can turn twelve weaknesses into strengths in one year, you’d better call your local wallet dealer and order a size extra large. You’ll need it for all the money you’re about to make.