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You might be making these mistakes. Here’s how to fix them

There are a lot of things that can go wrong in a sales process. Some mistakes can be overcome, but others are lethal. The two mistakes I am going to talk about today fall into the category of deal breakers. There are the type of mistakes you can’t come back from, so it’s important to avoid them at all costs. Once you’ve made these two mistakes, your prospect looks at you differently; they’ve made a final judgement and that judgement is that you’re in this for yourself.

Mistake 1: Pushing your own agenda

When you go into a sales presentation, you have to surrender to the timeline of your prospect. You are not there to push your agenda. Likely, your agenda is to make quota and earn a big commission. That cannot be the motivation behind your meetings. It usually goes like this. You open with some good dialogue. You feel like this prospect might be on your side. Your brain goes into I-need-commission-now mode. You rush to the closing questions. “So, can I count on you to do business with me?” At that point, you’re as good as dead. It’s a lethal mistake because you’re focused only on your goal. You may as well have told the client “I don’t care about what you have to say. I want your money. Period.” You can’t recover from that.

Ask yourself this key question

When you sit down with a potential client, you have to ask yourself this question before you start the meeting. How will this person’s life be enhanced when this meeting is over? If the only answer you can come up with, by the way, is that enhancement is they will own your product/service/widget, then you’ve got some work to do. That cannot be the answer. When you ask this question, the answer has to be something that benefits them outside of your product or service. Will they be better educated on their industry in some way? Will they have a better understanding of ways they can save money in their business? Will they be aware of ways to increase productivity, manage time, or save money? Are they overall in a better mood? Did you lift their spirits? They are so many ways to enhance the quality of life of your prospects, and when you go in with that as your goal, you’ll see results.

Check yourself

When I have a meeting planned, I go in with my iPad or a notepad that has a list of things I want to accomplish in this meeting. If you find yourself in an impromptu sales pitch— such as over drinks or at a networking event— have this list memorized. The list can vary based on your personal approach and your industry, but here are some ideas. Have you found out what’s important to my prospect? Have you found out what is causing pain for the prospect? Have you found out what problems exist for in this prospect’s business? How expensive is this problem? Have we connected on a human level (more on that one below)? You don’t move to the closing questions until you have checked off everything on this list.

Mistake 2: Not personalizing the sales process

The second fatal mistake you’re making is you’re not personalizing our sales process. It’s really easy to fall into this trap when you do this job over and over. You fall into the patterns and you’re closing deals and you get a little complacent. You aren’t doing that extra homework to make the conversation personalized to the prospect in front of you. You go through the familiar motions, and you start hearing no a lot more than you should. How do you fix it?

Do your homework

A lot of this goes into what we call the pre-call plan. Before you even enter the room (or begin the call or start the zoom meeting), you need to do some homework on the person you’re meeting with. These days it’s so easy to do. Do a search on LinkedIn or some other social media channel. Do a google search. Look at the company’s website for a bio. I share in my book Catapulting Commissions that you can share a personal story that might be relevant to your prospect. So, if in the process of doing your homework, you see photos of your prospect with their dog, and you also have a dog, you can tell a dog-related story. Or maybe you see that they have a family with a child close in age to yours, you can tell a kid-related story. Do this in a way that feels natural to you. You can tell them you were reading about them on the company website or looking at their activity on LinkedIn. Or if you think looking them up online prior to your meeting feels creepy, just share the relevant details about yourself to get the conversation rolling. Either way, it’s going to be powerful. Because guess what happens when you share those personal details about yourself? The prospect lets their guard down and shares personal details with you as well. They start to see you as a human being— not just a commission-hungry sales rep— and you make make a personal connection. And then you have a higher likelihood of closing a deal.

Personalize your sales process. Don’t push your agenda. When you do this, you’re avoiding fatal mistakes and the likelihood of closing your next deal is significantly higher. Problem solved.

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