George W. Bush famously butchered the quote: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”.
That said, it’s surprising how often we fool ourselves in business, whether we admit it or not. Hope springs eternal. Which is particularly dangerous in sales.
These are the main mistakes business owners and salespeople make when dealing with prospects.
Mistake 1: Being overly optimistic.
We’re often overly optimistic regarding the chances of success. They’ve said they’re happy with your proposal. But then nothing. Every follow up goes nowhere.
Research shows that less than 50% of forecasted deals actually close. Around 30% are lost to a competitor, but 23.6% stall and actually buy nothing or change the way they operate.
Rather than deluding yourself that the “deal will close…. They just need more time”, move on. Your best antidote is to have a full pipeline of qualified prospects so no one person matters.
Mistake 2: You believe you’re different – but does your market?
Are you just another apple in the barrel? How have you differentiated yourself from the competition? How have you related your product or service to their values? Do you have a Unique Buying Advantage (UBA) that they can relate to and go “I get it – that’s why we should go with you?”
If you haven’t got a well-crafted UBA, we have a 6 step bullet proof system for creating a unique message for your market that will get your prospects choose you.
Mistake 3: You’re not talking to the ultimate decision maker
This is a biggie!
I can’t tell you how many times salespeople are fooled by prospects claiming to be the “decision maker”.
Be aware – many people can say “no”, but only one person has the authority to say “yes”.
In B2B sales, do your homework and ascertain who the ultimate decision makers are. It’s easy to get fooled by people further down the tree who want to appear important.
Make sure you understand both the formal and informal structures of the organisation and how decisions are “really” made.
And if you’re selling to a couple, it’s often a fatal mistake to ignore the quiet one.
Mistake 4: You believe it’s urgent.
The prospect tells you it’s urgent. You pull out all the stops. Think that the sale is in the bag. But you later find out that they were on a fishing expedition, maybe looking for price comparison, or looking to keep their existing supplier on their toes.
While this is not always preventable, make sure you understand your prospect’s underlying motivation and priorities or you risk being left high and dry.
Moving forward, here’s my challenge to you.
Go over your current prospect list and see where you’re at with each. And then go back and look at all the deals you’ve lost and figure out what went wrong. Where you might have fooled yourself.
It’s only by doing this that you’ll see patterns in your own behaviour that you need to correct.
Over almost 20 years we’ve developed and taught a qualification and sales process that significantly improves your sales success.
Called the DICTATE process, it’s yours free. Just drop me a line and shoot it over.