7 Fatal Mistakes Your Sales Reps Might Be Making

Sales reps are often used to a script. Don’t worry - there’s nothing wrong with that. Selling usually follows a pattern, so it’s natural your sales teams will repeat the same strategies.

But there’s a big problem - the world is constantly changing, which means the market, your prospects and your product’s role might as well. What used to work beautifully might not be a good strategy anymore. And by the time you realize the strategy needs to change, your sales are already decreasing.

It’s extremely important to keep track on what’s new. If, all of a sudden, people find out selling in superhero clothes increases revenue, be the first to dress your team like the Justice League. As human beings are volatile, so are negotiation aspects.

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Your team would go to a meeting like this. That wouldn't be so bad, though.

First and foremost, we advise you to review your sales reps’ process at a certain frequency. That amount of time, of course, depends on what you find to be the best inside your company. The main point is for you not to let yourself fall into that routine. It’s easier to fix a few mistakes as they appear than having to rethink your process entirely.

But what kind of mistakes my sales reps might be making currently?

If you wish to fix the parts of the process that aren’t working anymore, make sure you pay attention to how it affects the overall sales process. Is it at the introduction of the product? Or is it by the time you’re presenting prices to prospects?

To help you in that discovery, we’ve selected the most common (and fatal) mistakes sales reps are making today.

1) Not doing enough research.

This is one of the most frequent mistakes. Before you say “that is totally not our case”, think again. Of course, you might be right and your reps might be really well-equipped with information before a call. But you might also be terribly wrong.

Sales reps have to pay attention to details.

If a prospect’s company is located in Nevada, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your prospect lives in Nevada. If he actually lives in Florida and a rep is asking him about the weather in Nevada, you’re off to a bad start. During a call, a bad first impression can be lethal. Don’t just research the company, research the person your team will be talking to. LinkedIn is your friend.

Which also means being careful. Many people have a social media presence, but that doesn’t mean everyone has a profile everywhere. If said person doesn’t have a public presence online and only owns a private account on Instagram, respect that privacy. It doesn’t matter if you found out they have a dog - it’s not something to bring up. As great as a personalized conversation might be, you don’t want your reps to seem invasive (especially now that everyone is watching Black Mirror).

If they are sending an email, the best subject lines for sales emails are ones that speak directly to the prospect's context. That is something reps can find out by doing research.

2) Asking the wrong questions.

Salespeople should be masters of their words. Jedi Knights of argumentation, if you will.

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That means they must know what questions are more suitable to what context. Even more so, they must know some questions aren’t suitable at all.

For example:

Instead of asking who the decision maker is, try asking who is involved in the process.

You don’t want to take power out of the prospect’s hands. Even if the person on the other end isn’t the decision maker, your rep is still the one with an offer to make.

Instead of going for “let me ask you something”, go for “may I ask you something?”.

Again, about the power - the chances of your prospect replying “no” is minimum, but your rep gains points by being polite and asking permission.

“How are you today?” is not a good opening line for an unscheduled call.

Either prospects will reply with a neutral answer or a very bad one. Either way, an unscheduled sales call is interruptive. Should you waste their time by asking something that doesn’t add to the conversation whatsoever?

Also read: A to Z in Sales Terminology

3) Being too attached to the script.

Anyone can follow a script. For that reason, your sales teams might be selling your product, but it ends there.

What makes a good sales rep is being able to sell; what makes an amazing sales rep is making a positive impression.

Each prospect is different; that means personalizing is vital. As mentioned before, researching the prospect is a great idea, but the call starts when your prospect answers your call. It’s essential to adapt the conversation to a customer, based on their answers and needs. Instead of following a script, reps must be encouraged to build their conversation based on the prospect’s responses. After all, there’s nothing less attractive than someone who asks and doesn’t listen to the replies.

By doing so, you’re also teaching your sales teams to learn more about the usabilities of your product. Your product or service doesn’t serve its purpose if it doesn’t solve the problems it’s intended to solve. You might think your product is perfect for your prospect’s company, but maybe it doesn’t solve the problem you thought it would. This is a constant learning process for your sales team: where does your product fit? Could your product help other people or serve other purposes? How, exactly, are you going to help that prospect (if you can)?

4) Relying on the presentation.

Slides exist for a reason. Humans are visual beings and we’re attracted (and more convinced) by a compelling slideshow. But a good deck of slides won't be as effective if the salesperson isn't there to sell.

Presence is vital.

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In regards to giving presentations, a sales rep's presence is valuable, if he's able to speak for himself. He has to know exactly what the features of the product are and their benefits, and he has to know how to adapt the slideshow to the prospect's situation. This is also where body language and eloquence make a difference.

5) Using the wrong tools.

Technology is here on our behalf, so we tend to think anything helps. It doesn't work that way.

It's crucial that your team use the best tools to work. Perhaps your sales reps aren't using CRM appropriately, or they're in a platform that wasn't meant for your context. Whether you are a B2B or B2C company, find the right tools to facilitate your team's job.

6) Not reading into a prospect's words.

Here's the thing: there are a bunch of reasons why prospects could be refusing to buy. Sometimes, the reason isn't precisely what they say it is.

That doesn't mean they are lying. But it does mean your sales team needs to look into the explanations more closely.

Let's look into this situation:

Charles (your sales rep) and a prospect (Jim) got along very well. Their initial conversation was dynamic, Charles understood Jim's company roles and explained what his product was. Trusting he was on his way to a successful sales call, Charles presented price and payment possibilities. That's where Jim said, "I'm sorry, but I can't afford that price." So, Charles goes to you and asks you if he can lower the price for Jim’s company.

Of course, the problem can be money. Most of the time, it probably is. But sometimes - and that is where your team should be looking into - lowering prices won't do a thing for your prospect.

The key word is value. 

Like it was said, selling a solution to the person's problems is incredibly important. If your prospect didn't see a value in your product or service, there is no reason why he would buy even if it got cheaper.

Selling a solution to a person's problems is incredibly important. If your prospect doesn’t see value in your product or service, there is no reason why he would buy even if you lowered the price.

Charles calls Jim again and offers him a cheaper product. That might be it. The deal is closed and everyone is happy.

Or...

Charles calls Jim again and offers him a cheaper product. Jim can now afford the offer, but he doesn't want to buy. When that happens, it's Charles' job to find out what Jim's company truly needs and how his solution can help.

7) Bad timing.

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Okay, no one wants to pick up the phone and hear "Hey, do you want to buy my product?". Reps must take the time to educate the prospect. Building a relationship is of the utmost importance.

Despite that, there is also the concept of too late in selling. Salespeople shouldn't take too long to ask if a prospect wishes to buy - if they are convinced before the presentation or explanation is over, their time is being wasted. Overselling can truly be counterproductive.

A useful solution to that is taking a moment to ask if the potential buyer has seen enough to make a decision. By doing so, your team can increase productivity and the effectiveness of their strategies.

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