4 Ways Your Sales Reps Are Letting Down Their Prospects Today
Sales is a tricky business, and the path to closing is a long and laborious one. Unfortunately, that also means that there’s many opportunities for things to go wrong during the sales cycle. Whether it’s a forgotten name or a failure to understand the prospect’s needs, salespeople all too often make critical errors when interacting with potential clients that can scare them away forever.
Of course, deals can be lost for countless reasons, many of them external to your business — from a poor culture fit to a key stakeholder who’s just in a bad mood that day. However, you need to ensure that you and your sales reps are doing your best not to lose more clients than absolutely necessary. If you’re seeing an unusually high number of deals that fail to make it through your sales pipeline, first check that you’re not making these four common mistakes.
1. Not Delivering Insights
In this increasingly digital era, knowledge is power, and information is one of the most valuable currencies on earth. Today, your sales reps have access to more data and analytics than ever before, but far too often they lack the time and ability to make sense of it for their own purposes.
Delivering the right insights can make the difference between closing a deal and seeing a potential client disappear. According to a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, companies that describe themselves as “data-driven” are far more likely to be financially successful. Provide your reps with modern, powerful sales enablement tools, as well as statistics about the most useful and engaging content for various situations.
2. Not Following Up
It might seem like common sense that your sales reps should follow up with a prospect after an initial contact or inquiry. However, there are lots of reasons that your reps might not be eager to follow up: they might be expecting the prospect to contact them, might not want to appear pushy or desperate, might be afraid of rejection, or might simply have forgotten.
Whatever the reason, however, your reps need to be motivated to pursue all leads available to them. Whether it’s monetary in the form of a higher commission or the fear of disappointing your potential customers, find what drives your reps to succeed and remind them to follow up at regular intervals.
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3. Being Single-Threaded
If you’ve ever chatted up a cute new acquaintance at a party for an hour or two, you might be a little frustrated when you learn that they’re engaged to be married next month — after all, nobody enjoys spending their time barking up the wrong tree. With so many interesting new people around you, it’s a risk to invest all of your eggs in one basket.
Many reps these days tend to build single-threaded relationships with prospects, meaning that they spend the vast majority of their time speaking with only one person within the organization. Of course, there are natural advantages to this approach: It’s simpler, for one, and it also lets you build a deeper relationship that’s hopefully more likely to end in a closing.
Unfortunately, however, single-threaded sales prospecting has one fatal flaw: It makes your deal contingent on the whims of a single person. No matter how many pleasant conversations you have over the phone, you never know whether the person on the other end of the line will change their mind or suddenly depart their position. Instead, your sales reps should opt for a multi-threaded approach by expanding their contacts within a company once they’ve met the initial prospect.
4. Not Talking to Power
To continue the analogy from the last example, suppose that that your new acquaintance’s equally cute (and single) friend has been nursing a drink alone in the corner all this time. If you’re interested in getting a phone number by the end of the night, you’d probably ask to be introduced and start up a conversation.
The same philosophy applies when it comes to sales: Are you talking to the right person? In this case, of course, the “right person” means the key decision-maker, the one with the pen who can sign a fat check for your next contract.
It’s not uncommon for your first contact or two with a client to be with someone who doesn’t fit the above description, just to verify that you’re both on the same page. As you proceed down the pipeline, however, you need to be sure that you’re pitching your case to the right people — the ones who will hear your arguments and have the power to do something about it once you win them over. Otherwise, spending too much time speaking with people who aren’t “power” is almost always a wasted effort.
If you’re seeing poor performance among your sales reps, remember that your customers are probably just as frustrated as you are. The solutions to the issues above are multifaceted and should probably involve a few one-on-one meetings to assess the source of the problem. Make sure that your reps understand what’s expected of them, that they’re getting appropriate feedback, and that they have the time, training and tools to succeed.