Sales Advice for SMBs

Common Sales Mistakes

Written by Kevin Sasser for Gaebler Ventures

Are you closing sales? Would you like to have higher sales closing rates? If so, you'll find this list of the top ten sales mistakes may be just what you need to get on the right track to higher sales.

For small businesses getting on their feet, the most important aspect to business growth is closing on a sale.

But many business owners are making some common sales mistakes and missing out on opportunities to make money and succeed. Correcting these sales mistakes can lead to higher close rates for sales, growing revenues and improved profitability.

Ten Sales Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Here are the top sales mistakes made by small and mid-sized businesses. Is it possible that you are guilty of some of these common sales mistakes?

Sales Mistake #1. Not Answering the Most Important Question

You build widgets, you love widgets, you read, write, breathe, while thinking about widgets. Does your prospect care about widgets as much as you? No. If they purchase, your widget will play a small supporting role in their professional life. Design your sales pitch from the perspective of the prospect, with the main goal of answering the prospect's real question, which is, "What's in it for me?"

Sales Mistake #2. G.T.T.F.P.Q.

You heeded the advice in #1 and have the answer of what value your solution can deliver to your prospect. But before you share that with your prospect, you want to talk about your company's history, your executives, your position in the industry, what analysts are saying ... G.T.T.F.P.Q. - Get To The Freaking Point Quickly. Grab your prospects attention by talking about their specific problem and your solution as early as you can in your meeting.

Sales Mistake #3. Spaghetti Selling

When cooking spaghetti noodles, how do you tell they're done? You throw a noodle against the wall to see if it sticks. A massive amount of time is wasted every day in sales meetings in which the sales rep has no clue what is important to the prospect, so they talk about EVERYTHING that their solution can provide in hopes they will stumble onto a hot button. Before you start a sales meeting, have a working session with the prospect in which you talk about the relevant points about your solution that are most important to them.

Sales Mistake #4. Being Cheesy

A sales rep walks into a prospect's conference room and throws a pair of socks onto the table. The surprised attendees look at him and he announces "You will need these in a few minutes because what I'm about to show you will knock your soc-." (We will not dignify this by completing the sentence.) If your are selling clowns for children's parties, this tactic maybe apropos, if you are selling a solution that will play a mission critical part in the lives of your prospects, your appearance, presentation, and demeanor should reflect the quality and dependability your solution delivers.

Sales Mistake #5. Not Prospecting

Contractor in January: "I'm too busy to make sales calls."

Contractor in March: "I have no business."

Be it via cold calling, personal networking, or knocking on doors, prospecting for new business should never stop, ever. If you are booked solid now, use that in your prospecting pitch, "We are booked until Q2, but if you have some projects coming up, we would like to bid." A vendor who is booked up solid looks great in a prospect's eyes. Devote at least thirty minutes every day to finding new customers.

Sales Mistake #6. Using Clichés

Sales Rep: "We specialize in customer service"

Prospect: "Really, how?"

Sales Rep: "When you call us, we pick up the phone, and we are real friendly"

Prospect: "That's exactly the same thing your competitor said."

Sales Rep: "Yeah, but I really mean it."

If you really do have a competitive advantage with customer service, be prepared to back it up with facts. For example, "while some companies use call centers, we have a staff of 20 based here locally, who have the authority to escalate any issues not resolved in the first call to the proper team or executive".

Sales Mistake #7. Leading with Price

Disclaimer: if you are in a heavily commoditized market, like patio furniture or financial services, skip this one. Price discussions should take place at the end of the sales process, not the beginning. You should work on understanding your prospect's pain, configuring your solution, and then presenting a price. If you lead with "we will not be beat on price" in your first call, you are setting yourself for difficult price negotiations later.

Sales Mistake #8. Saying "Yes" Too Many Times

Can you give me a discount? Can you throw in some free units? Can you deliver on Saturdays for free? Can you modify your product to better fit my needs for free? A long-term vendor/client relationship is like a marriage; the good ones are based on mutual respect and empathy for the partner's needs. The bad ones usually are miserable and leave at least one of the parties fantasizing about the end of the relationship.

Sales Mistake #9. Knowing When to Walk Away

There will always be those deals where a competitor will throw a low-ball, margin-less offer onto the table, just to get the business. Don't fall into that trap. The secret of "loss leaders" is that they need to "lead" to a profitable margin somewhere. If your deal is nothing but a "loss," stay away.

Sales Mistake #10. Being Overly Optimistic

Suppose you are talking to ten prospects. If you think you are going to get all ten deals, you haven't been in sales long enough. Until you build a history, assume that for every ten meetings/calls you have, one of those will result in a prospect that is interested in your solution. For every prospect you have, assume twenty percent will buy.

Kevin Sasser is Vice President of Sales for, the online SMB lead generation and business social community that helps businesses save money, make money, and grow.

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