When trying to make sales improvements you should look at what the most common mistakes people make when selling today. Let’s face all of the marketing in the world can’t help you unless you can convert a lead, enquiry or opportunity into a paying client. It’s that conversion I call sales and its critical.
For more information on how to avoid common sales mistakes check our latest podcast episode of the Marketing Strategy Show here where we interviewed Julian Griffith from the Good Peanut.The six key mistakes that businesses make are:
- Not Having Sales Process
- Not Ensuring Sales Management have the right skills
- Not Having the Right People
- Not Ensuring there is allocated Business Development time
- Not Having the right CRM
- Not starting with the Right Mindset
1. Not Having A Sales Process
- There are great numbers of sales people out there who “wing it”. They have lived long tenures with their clients in that business, they know their clients well, they have great product knowledge and they get by winging it.
- Because of that, they keep their head above water and some do well but they’re not going to be doing anywhere near as well as they could be. I guess the major thing to come from that as a common mistake is a lack of process
- If you think of an analogy within let’s say an engineering business that has a sales team (like a production department). They would have immense documented levels of procedure, process around their production, around their logistics, around deliveries, within their finance department but very often these same companies although they might think they do, don’t have any true process, robust processes in their sales
- Of course, like any other process in business whether it be operations or marketing. Without a process, you can’t scale it?
- Sales people are very happy to hear all these lovely things from their prospective clients and they believe it’s all true.
- So, the lack of process, when it falls to it, is effective questioning to uncover the prospects buying criteria.
2. Not Ensuring the Sales Management have the Right Skills
- The sales leadership group (including the CEO/Managing Partner) must have key skills around coaching, mentoring their people, training their people, how to have those tough conversations with their people and hold them accountable.
- it’s starts at the very top, it’s starts with the CEO, the CEO really mustn’t try and flick responsibility onto the sales managers.
- For example what normally happens is someone saying, okay I need you to be doing 1 hour of new business prospecting a day. Which sounds great but what usually happen? During a sales/business development meeting when the salesperson is asked about how many new business meetings/sales they made that week. They then respond by saying but this client crisis came up, this manager needed that report, this colleague wanted this information.
- If sales management don’t have the right skills and they can't have the tough conversations, the salespeople get off the hook because of that. But if you can talk it through with them and get everyone on board with clarity around how the business development component of their role is #1 and keep holding to that #1 priority, the results will change.
3. Not Having the Right People
- Let me relay a recent example of this discussed by Julian on the podcast. The CEO of a company called and suggested that “David”, an Account Manager, should be promoted into a Business Development role. After looking into David’s background with the company and realising that he had been working for the company as Account Manager for the last 15 years, the strong recommendation was to not put him in the Business Development role because wasn't the right role based on what his desires and commitment were (more on this later).
- To cut a long story short, the CEO went against the recommendations and promoted David into the Business Development role only to fire him 6 months later. He wasn’t the right person for the role. So it cost time and money in the Business Development role as well as a good Account Manager.
4. There isn't allocated Business Development Time
- You can raise expectations through targets, behaviours and activities. Doing enough of the right activities enough of the time is the step before targets
- That key starting point comes from the CEO and the key executives
- One of the key things to do is get role clarity.
- What is the role? This is in the job description. What are they going to do day in day out? How much time have they got to spend around account management or report writing vs. prospecting/Business Development?
- So if you come to the end of the week and if the sales person has agreed to allocate a certain amount of time to business development, it’s very difficult for them to then turn around and say they didn’t have time to do it
- So, as the leader you have got to allocate and provide clarity but you also need to free them up to have that time.
- For example if you are a legal firm, you can't just throw all the delivery work at them for forty hours and then expect them to do ten hours on business development and write status reports as well
5. Not Having the Right CRM
- Using a CRM (Customer-Relationship Management) effectively can save you massive amounts of time in report writing and contacting clients.
- For example, say you have a day of meetings, most people wouldn’t be keen to work on a report that takes a few hours to create following a day of meetings. But with a CRM you can input your notes from the meetings and within 10-20 minute. Then the CRM will generate a report for you based off the information you just entered
- Similarly with emails, you could spend hours on end talking to your current clients and potential prospects but with a CRM system you can set up some automation to regularly contact prospects and clients.
6. Not Starting with the Right Mindset
- When we talk about mindset we talk about desire and commitment
- Desire is essentially the desire to be successful in sales
- Commitment is simply your level of commitment, how prepared are you to consistently do the thing you don’t really want to do
- Very often you will see sales people who lack desire
- One of the common beliefs or weaknesses is we call it a \e. It’s a bit of a mouthful but essentially, the way I translate that as is the way we buy for ourselves is the way that we sell.
- If you are a sales person who likes to go around and get the lowest price, do lots of comparison, lots of researching and let’s say you’re buying that TV and you’re the sort of person who will quite happily drive fifty kilometres down the road to get the slightly cheaper price. You are, whether you realise or not, more vulnerable to prospective clients who then turnaround to you and say that’s all fantastic Bill but I need to think about it
- I’ve worked a lot of businesses where when we start off, there’s a culture of excuse making. Yeah. It’s not our fault. The competition are better. Look at our website competitor there. Their product is great ours is lousy.
- There will always be reasons why things can’t happen. So that accountability mindset, you can’t just force accountability on people. You must firstly prepare them so that they can be successful and then hold them accountable to that.
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