Selling today is harder than it has ever been. With the array of competition, client-to-client influences, and amount of information found on the Internet, the selling profession has become commoditized. It is more important than ever for selling professionals to gain as much of a competitive advantage as possible.
Gaining that advantage means having proper sales education. With proper education and processes you can better generate leads, close deals, manage environmental forces, and overcome with competitive pressures.
Even with proper education, however, the best business development person can still develop habits that negatively impact sales closure rates. Here's a look at seven of the most common bad habits and how to break them.
- Poor Service: According to research by HR Challey Group, over 50% of every selling situation involves customer service. That means it's essential that the service you provide is exceptional. Service is the clear differentiator in today's increasingly competitive marketplace. So, give clients something to remember, talk positively about, and tell associates about. Don't give them something to complain about. Customers are the purpose of business, not the interruption of it.
- Bad Communication Skills: Two of the most important things about selling are the art of communication and the art of building a relationship. Yet many sales training programs focus on how to close or how to present rather than proper articulation methods. Good conversation, not how many widgets are placed in front of the buyer, controls relationships. Consumers desire healthy conversation so they can build trust and respect. The art of communication is the pinnacle to building any long-standing value based relationship. Focus energies on three items: 1) terrific listening skills, 2) agitating questions, and 3) decent vocabulary.
- Failure to Follow Up: Nothing is more deplorable than selling professionals who do not follow up when they say that they will. Even worse are those who do not follow up for several days after a client leaves a voice or email message. Not only is this a bad business practice, but it's rude. If clients are the most important aspect of an organization’s business, then nothing is more important than returning messages. If customer service is a sales differentiator, then follow-up must be part of the process. A good practice is to return a call within 90 minutes of receipt and return email messages at the day’s conclusion.
- No Preparation: This is the area where most selling professionals need help. It is vital to know what to say before you say hello. Not knowing about a company, its industry, or its competition when entering a conversation only opens the pathway for competition. Selling professionals must read good business news from sources such as The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and Bloomberg. Or you can subscribe to news sources that "clip" imperative information and deliver it directly to your email box.
- Poor Language Skills: If knowledge is power, then language is the key to relationships. Know what to say and when to say it. Become a voracious reader so that you can offer good objective conversation with buyers who see your value. One of the best sources to build your vocabulary is Dictionary.com. Your language will increase twofold in 30 days by having new words delivered to your email box daily.
- Inability to Take Action: Unfortunately, procrastination is inherent within 82% of the population. But to get anything done in a crazy-busy world, action is vital. Return calls when you say you're going to. Ask questions that close business. Tell clients what you want them to do. If you don't, they will move on to the next thing because they are too distracted. The only way to create value is to also create action. Illustrate that your time is as valuable, if not more, than your prospective client.
- Failure to Build Relationships: I am about to say something that might surprise you: stop selling. Individuals want relationships with those they know and trust. Refrain from focusing on the number of widgets you must sell and focus instead on how many great relationships you build. You will immediately notice that selling will be less laborious and transactional. More important, your referrals will expand exponentially.
How much time do you spend wishing that you had better sales skills? Wishing it to happen will never work. Instead, take steps to improve those skills, starting with the above seven items.