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VOL. 37 | NO. 1 | Friday, January 04, 2013
Avoid these seven deadly sales sins
Whether you call it sales, business development or fundraising, bringing in new customers or donors is essential to your organization’s growth. After all, “nothing happens until a sale is made,” as the late founder of IBM, Thomas Watson, so prolifically stated.
To make sure your team is on a path for sustained growth, avoid these seven deadly sales sins.
1. Assuming great work equates to loyalty: Don’t mistake a paying customer for a loyal one. Perceptions of value can vary between vendor and customer. If in doubt about the unwavering loyalty of your customers, ask what else you could be doing to exceed expectations.
2. Assuming clients will refer you: Your customers aren’t likely to refer you of their own accord despite their satisfaction with your work. Instead, take your client to lunch a couple times a year to see just how happy they are and inquire about their changing business needs. Not only does this present up-sell opportunity, but it’s an ideal time to brainstorm about possible referral candidates.
3. Not building bench strength: Investing all of your time in a single relationship at an organization is risky. If your contact moves on, you could be at the mercy of a new manager wanting to make his mark with new partnerships. Savvy sales reps develop “bench strength” in their customer relationships.
4. Not understanding the decision-making process: Even veteran sales reps can be timid in inquiring about a prospect’s decision-making process and those who may influence the purchase decision. Your time is valuable, and you have every right to ask these questions early on.
5. Discounting without cause: If discounting is your go-to sales strategy, you’re telling prospects you lack confidence in your offering. If you are competitively priced, have demonstrated your value, and have built trust with a prospect, deep discounting shouldn’t be necessary. If needed, find a small concession and be sure to explain why you’re making it so it is understood this isn’t a typical occurrence (e.g., reduction in project scope, investment in future relationship).
6. Only calling when you need something: Be sure you’re not only calling prospects for sales reasons. You’re in the relationship-building business and good relationships aren’t one-sided. Read the news and follow your prospect’s industry. Keep tabs on what their competitors are doing. Or consider inviting your prospect to a networking or educational event that they’ll find beneficial.
7. Assuming you’re born with sales skills: Selling is a learned skill. It requires effort, discipline and a lot of practice – like anything worth mastering. It also requires failure for improvement. So embrace the “no” as a gift toward your development.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and managing partner of RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com, with offices in Memphis and Nashville. Follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).