The Single Biggest Mistake Sales People Make (And How To Avoid Making It)
After listening to hundreds of my clients’ sales calls, I hear sales people making this mistake all the time, and don’t even realize it… but the symptoms are there.
Their sales rate will go down, they’ll stop closing sales on the spot, and they’ll start getting more of the, “Wow, this is really great information, let me think on it and I’ll get back to you.”
Maybe they’ll get the ol’, “We never make decisions on the spot. Can you send this to me in an email?”
And sometimes they’ll even start getting the, “Everything looks good, we just need to run the numbers and we’ll get back to you.”
… and then they never saw or heard from them again.
Has that ever happened to you? You’re doing a sales call, everything seems to be going well.. the customer is responsive, you’re getting great feedback, you can clearly solve a big problem that the customer is facing… then, at the end of the call, they deflect with a “nothing objection”. BOOM – hits you like a ton of bricks, there’s nothing you can do, and before you know it, you’re left sending them information in an email and trying in vein to schedule a follow up, that never materializes.
Yeah, we’ve all been there. But why does it happen?
It seems to happen most when sales people are doing higher volumes of sales calls, they start getting into a grove. This is fine and all, however it’s the wrong groove that they end up getting into.
I call it, “Running on Autopilot”.. and it’s more common – and more detrimental – than you think.
Running on Autopilot is when you do some surface level discovery (sometimes even great discovery), and then you roll into your presentation, all “business as usual”. You say the same things to each client as you explain your program or products step-by-step. You explain all the features and benefits, you show testimonials… You could literally cut and paste the pitch portion of the presentation between other calls – because you’re so good at explaining what you do and how you help people. However, the big problem here is that you’re being too generic. You aren’t selling, you’re presenting. Generic presentations don’t sell – at least not for expensive products. They have to be customized to the client whom you’re selling to. It won’t matter how much you can truly help their business, how big of a problem you can solve, how much money you’ll make for them… they won’t feel like your solution is for them. It has to be customized, or you’ll never close another sale on the spot.
This is the problem with sales scripts. As good as a script can be, following a script verbatim will not help you sell, especially if your product has a higher price. A script is great TOOL to use to help you follow a process, but it’s absolutely no good if you’re going to rely on the script and only the script to make a high-ticket sale.
What you really need is a way to combine following a script, and customizing your pitch/product explanation every single time, so that you can follow a proven process, and still show the customer that you truly listened to them and can solve their EXACT problem.
“So, if going on Autopilot doesn’t work, then why do we do it?”
The reason we revert back to autopilot is because it’s easy. It’s easy to go through the motions and run through a presentation without thinking about it. You can cruise Facebook while going through your presentation, you can think about what you’re going to have for dinner, heck, if you’ve done it enough times you could probably even be texting someone while you’re mid-sentence! It’s easy and comfortable – except the really shitty part is that it doesn’t work. It’s easy, it’s frictionless, but you aren’t going to close any sales.
This is exactly why sales people are paid good commissions for closing sales. It’s because it’s hard and it takes a lot of mental concentration and power to properly sell to a client and customize a pitch to their specific needs, desires, ambitions and goals. If selling was as easy as giving a presentation, we wouldn’t be paid in commission, we’d be paid a wage to answer the phone, and we’d be order-takers.
But selling is an art. It takes finesse. Concentration. Focus. And if you can stay focused, keep your eye on the prize, and really, truly sell to your clients’ needs – and prove to them that you can solve a big problem for them, then you WILL make the sale. Easy as that. And it really is, as easy as that.
“Ok cool. Don’t run on autopilot. Makes sense. So how can I avoid doing it?”
Great question! I’m glad you asked.
First of all, just like the 12-step program, admitting you have a problem is the first step. Simply by realizing that you are a victim of falling to the temptation of running on autopilot, you are going to be able to start making changes. It’s okay, we all do it – and realizing that you do it too is the first step to improving and getting better.
The second step is to ask yourself, do you truly know how to sell by customizing the pitch directly for the client? This is really important. If you simply don’t know how to NOT make a generic presentation, then we need to talk and I’ll walk you through it.
The third, and final step, is to make sure that you never fall victim to laziness again. This has to be a constant, deliberate process in order to capitalize on every single sales call you make. Even falling back to autopilot on ONE sale can be a huge cost to your company, not to mention you are doing the customer a big disservice by not helping them with the problem that they came to you to solve.
In your discovery, focus HARD on the needs and challenges your customer tells you. Remember them. Write them down. When you pitch, every section, every slide, every feature, you must bring it back to their specific needs and challenges. Every. Single. Time. There is literally no amount of selling back to their specific needs that is too much.
If you’ve ever caught yourself on auto-pilot before, let me know in the comments, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your story, and I’ll even send you some feedback on your pitch if you’d like.
PS – If you got any value at all from this, please make sure to subscribe here, or pass it along. It let’s me know you’re listening!
PPS – After 10 comments, best comment gets a free shirt! Check them out here!