Through the years of working with sales people from many different industries and all levels of performance, I have found three fatal flaws for sales failure. While these are primary observations of B2B Selling professionals, you could probably find these same three in other forms of selling.
So let’s review the list of the top three fatal flaws of B2B selling:
- Time Management – really the lack of time management skills is the key to sales failure. The sales professionals who knew how to use their time effectively and efficiently were usually in the high performance group. Yet, I found most of the low performers did not have any understanding of the importance of time management principles.
Some of the more important facets of sales time management would be: actually scheduling appointments with customers and sending an agenda for the call / meeting; working on high priority customers who were going to make decisions soon; calling on the right people within the customer account rather than only the people who could see them at the moment; targeting high growth prospects using their time to research the company and the key people at the company; and the best sales people knew when to leave an account or prospect that was not going to buy anything and move on to a high probability target.
- Lack of Prospecting for New Business – This seems to be an illness that sets up shop with both low performing sales people and turns high performers into average performers over time. The key differences between the low performers who never had the business due to poor prospecting skills and the high performers who back track is the high performers forget how they became high performers in the first place.
Some of the most frustrating people are the ones who have the knowledge and talent then become lazy or complacence regarding the power of prospecting. Things will happen to accounts over a period of years – mergers, bankruptcy, change of strategy or direction and change of key personnel or contacts. Therefore, the best use of time is to find the new opportunities and create a full pipeline of new business opportunities – before you become desperate for new business or any business in some cases.
- Talking too Much – In the world of business to business selling the key to success is asking questions and actively listening to the answers of customers and prospects. Yet, there seem to be a large number of sales people who do not or will not learn this rule. They prefer to talk and talk and talk. They actually believe telling the customer everything about everything is good for sales success, when it is actually hurting them.
Sales people who talk all the time ( I have seen sales people talk up to 100% of the time with a customer – until the customer says goodbye!) believe that they have critical information to share and the only way to get it to the customer is by talking. Wrong! The best way to convey information is to ask questions about problems and consequences of problems. Then gaining agreement the problem does exist and the impact of the problem on their operation has more influence on the customer because they participated in the discover.
Sales people need to remember involvement leads to commitment. Without participating the customer has no stake in the situation. The other side of the coin – The customer discounts most of what you say in the first place, so it is important to get them to telling you about their problems and challenges and what a solution means to them. They will believe you when you use their words.
There are the big three fatal flaws for business to business selling. The key is to become aware of these flaws and use techniques and methods to counter them in your world of selling. Eliminating the fatal flaws will improve your sales success.