Here’s a checklist of nine common behaviors that lose potential customers and sales.
- When making an appointment by phone, start by talking about what you’re selling. It doesn’t make any difference that the person you’re calling doesn’t have any idea who you are or the company you represent or why you’re making the call. Just charge ahead. This will be almost 100% successful in getting the prospect to hang up.
- Don’t waste time and money finding ways to cultivate prospects. If prospects aren’t smart enough to figure out the value your solutions can bring them or how your knowledge and experience can benefit them after talking to you for a few minutes or getting a letter in the mail, don’t bother trying to share your ideas and expertise with them.
- Never take time to ask questions. When you’re in front of a customer, use every minute to do as much talking as you can. Asking questions or trying to get the prospect involved in the conversation is counterproductive.
- Never listen to what the prospect is saying. Remember, you’re there to make a sale, so don’t be distracted when the customer starts talking about issues or problems. Even though it can be difficult, stay on track and be prepared to bring the conversation back to getting the order.
- Always assume that the customer is looking for the lowest price. Have at least a three-tiered pricing schedule in your briefcase. This way you’ll be ready to lower the price when you call back and the customers tell you they’re not interested or your price is too high. A few days later call back with a new, lower, “manager approved” price. This pricing system is certain to create customer confidence.
- Don’t bother trying to figure out a prospect’s problems. You don’t want to get bogged down in the prospect’s issues. This will only deflect attention from your presentation. You’re there on a mission, so don’t let anything distract you.
- Forget about small accounts. You’re only interested in getting the big fish in your boat. Put all your time and effort into going after the big ones. Small ones are too much bother and it’s not a good use of your time servicing them.
- Don’t waste valuable selling time following up after making the sale. Follow-up is for customer service. Keep going forward; don’t let yourself look back. How can you be expected to meet your quota if you’re servicing accounts? If the customers need something, they’ll call the office.
- Stay focused on making the sale and ignore the prospect’s buying process. Getting on the customer’s wavelength is for inexperienced salespeople, not pros. Present yourself as a “consultative salesperson,” someone who wants to understand how the customer thinks. Talk a lot about problem solving, even though your real objective is to get the order.
John R. Graham is president of Graham Communications a marketing service and sales consulting firm. He can be contacted at 40 Oval Road, Quincy, MA, 617-328-0069.