Weak sales approaches and bad decisions allow your potential customers to make mistakes, mistakes that often make you lose the opportunity and the customer of your dreams not to reach their goals. Here are nine mistakes you could allow your dream customers to make.
- Do not provide a compelling reason to change: Sellers always think their product or service should be enough to force the customers of their dreams to change. Because they believe their business and their offerings are better than their competitors, they often overlook the business case for change, if they even know what should force them to change. Without a theory and an understanding of why and how their dream client should do something different, they focus elsewhere, on smaller and safer topics. Complaining that your client has gone dark or has ghosted you is ignoring the root cause of the negative outcome.
- Avoid building consensus: One of the challenges you will face with any group of people, and especially in business, is a lack of alignment. You will discover disagreements as to whether they should be forced to change, how they should change, when they should change and who they should choose as their partner. When your contacts know they are out of alignment, they will work noisily to avoid having to engage stakeholders suspected of objecting to what they are trying to do. By allowing them to avoid reaching consensus, you are giving moral authority to those who have been excluded from the process, leaving them the option of blocking or stopping your initiative once discovered.
- Do not acquire an executive sponsor: There is no longer a "decision maker". Instead, there are "decision makers". While this is true, large projects or initiatives usually require someone with the power to approve an agreement – and protect it throughout the process. Typically, an executive sponsor is the person who has the best business case for the project or initiative, which motivates them to do something to eliminate the threats. By allowing your contacts to avoid acquiring an executive sponsor and preventing you from engaging with them, you reduce your chances of winning by opening up risks.
- Unrealistic expectations: Sometimes you will find contact so enthusiastic about the promise of better results that he overestimates what is possible, but also how quickly he will achieve them. Maybe you oversold it, or maybe your dream client heard what he wanted to believe, not what you said. If, however, they are allowed to keep their expectations unrealistic, you are to blame for not having adjusted their expectations to match reality. You will allow your client to be embarrassed afterwards, and you will have made recovery more difficult than if you had met expectations earlier.
- Skipping steps and a lazy process: There is a particular variety of contacts who believe they know what they want and that there is no reason to engage in a business conversation. Instead, they seem to get things done, skipping some of the conversations necessary to help them bring about real change. Because they are lazy in the process, your solution misses the target. Or worse, they ask you for a price quote and a contract, which you send to them immediately by email. By allowing them to opt out, you have created too little value and your proposal misses the target. Failure to recognize that a person who does not want to spend time with you is not likely to buy from you is an involuntary error.
- Believe the price is worth: One of the main complaints you could make as a seller could be that the customer of your dreams has deepened the conversation with you, only to decide that your price is too high to be taken into account. You can even accuse them of not understanding the value created by your solution. The truth is that you were responsible for making sure your prospect understood the difference between price and cost. If you have not clearly explained the difference and your dream client understands and accepts, the error and the result are yours.
- Underinvestment: While we are talking about the money, price and investment that you ask your customer for, it may not be a more common mistake in sales than allowing the customer to under-invest in the results it needs. Many sellers believe that moving their competitor is made possible by "saving money for the business". They do not recognize, or refuse to believe, that if their potential client had a problem to solve, they would willingly invest more for better results. When a customer under-invests, you allow them to withdraw money from their solution and increase their chances of getting the best results you have sold them.
- Let your client sell your initiative: Your unconditional contact told you twice that it was uncomfortable to present your solution to you and he insisted that he himself present it to his working group and to its management team. They have reassured you that you have nothing to fear, that this is how they do it. After their presentation, your contact tells you: "They decided to go in another direction." You do not know who "they" are, but you are sure that if you had presented, you would have had a happier result at the end of the meeting. Never an easy conversation, and always a painful loss.
- Do not run: When you are young in sales, you like to hear the customer of your dreams complain about your competitor, listing all the ways they are dissatisfied and what they need to change. It’s music to your ears, and you can feel the wet ink on your contract as you walk over to the car, telling your sales manager that you’ve almost made the deal. It is only after gaining some experience that you discover that the dream customer who complains the loudest is the one who refuses to make the changes that he must make on his side to produce a better result. The next seller who calls them will hear the same complaints about you.
Selling well is never easy and some of your best customers can be difficult throughout the business conversation. If you are going to lose, you are playing the game as well as you can, and that means avoiding the mistakes you know will result in a negative outcome for you and your dream client.
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