The 10 most common mistakes of salespeople in a customer visit
More details like who are going to be the persons in the meeting and what each of them is looking to get out of the solution you have to offer is very important. This can be unknown for you still, but it is worth at least to make research in social networks like Linkedin, to know what the roles of the members of the organization attending the meeting and have something prepared for each of them. Preparing a green sheet as Miller Heiman suggests in Conceptual Selling is always a great idea, especially for complex sales.
1- Being unprepared
As you can read on our article “Prepare your value preposition”, you must make sure to be well prepared for the meeting with your customer. Knowing what is your unique selling preposition for the meeting is a must. What are you going to sell, by when and in which amount, should be clear before arriving to the meeting.
2- Lack of an agenda
If you are visiting your customer at their site, and the customer has not set up an agenda, take the initiative and make sure to set one. This will not only allow you to plan more meetings that same day but also will guarantee that you can cover all the topics you need, and not have unpleasant surprised during the meeting, like the customer`s CEO asking you for a massive discount or other uncomfortable situations.
3- Talking too much (2/3 to 1/3 rule)
Telling is not selling. The main purpose of a sales call is normally to find out how to help your customer. This can be hardly achieved if you are the one talking the whole time. As a good rule of thumb, you may consider talking a third of the overall time, if you have talked half of the time or more, you are doing it wrong. Salespersons are talkative, and that is fine. However, try to control it and let your customer talk. Applying the golden silence is a good tool to encourage your customer to talk, asking open questions is also a good strategy.
4- Being too pleasant. Take control and do not say please too much
It is OK to be nice, it is also OK to smile a lot. What is not ok is to be pleasant in excess, to the point that the customer realizes that she can get anything from you because you have an issue saying no. This is also very difficult to revert once you have shown this personality. Modifying your personality is not what we propose to do here, but a behavioral change, especially for those that tend to succumb to the power of alphas (betas), should practice avoiding apologizing too much or being weak during discussion. This way, the salesperson can keep control of the conversation and be more aggressive to get commitments and advances.
5- Dressing code
Even when in the modern times the use of a tie is rare and probably also seen as overdressing, it must be kept in mind that the way a salesperson dresses can be seen as a sign of the level of importance that call is to the selling company. If the salesperson shows up in flipflops or short pants, the customer may consider this a sign of disrespect even when the concerning company is a startup and the CEO is using similar dress code. The point of view here is not to put on your wedding suit on every sales call, especially if it is a third of four call to the same customer and you are only to go over details. However, we have only one chance to make a first impression. Besides, if you had to risk being wrongly dressed, what would you choose? To be overdressed or underdressed? We think the choice is clear: dress smartly, put a decent pair of pants, a good button shirt, and clean dressing shoes. The suit jacket is optional, and weather dependent.
6- Negotiation too quickly
If you have been preparing extensively for your meeting, it is natural to be excited and want to talk business right away. In B2B, e-commerce websites are not very successful, especially for high end systems and technologies, and the reason for this lack of performance is the simple fact that people buy from people (still). To make a sale, the first step should always be focusing on the interests of the people involved in the decision-making process. If you do not understand what their personal goals and needs are, it will be tough to make a real connection with them and advance on the opportunity. Therefore, at the very beginning of the sales call, do not focus on the facts and focus on the person in front of you. Sometimes is better to do small talk for too long, than none at all.
7- Wrong timing—Being late, being too early
Even though the fact of being late may be unforgivable in many cultures, this is not as terrible as it may seem in some others. In countries like Spain, Argentina and the Latin American countries, being a little late, in the range of 5 to 15 minutes, it is not a big deal and can be forgiven, forgotten, and even expected. In some others like Germany, the Nordic countries, Switzerland, etc., this can be taken again as a lack of respect and even a cause to lose the business.
Being too early is easier to control, given that there is always a coffee place, a bakery, a restaurant where you can relax and prepare before going to the meeting. It is very important not to show up at the meeting place too early before the meeting, since you may seem too insecure and lose control of the conversation as explained above, besides it will generate an extra stress on the customer, since they may feel under pressure to welcome you earlier.
8- Cultural Adaptation
Similar to the point discussed above it is important to take into account the cultural influences from your customer, especially if you are visiting them at their location. If your customer has travelled to visit you at your site, you may be careful not to come too strong with the typical cultural behaviors from your country. A perfect example is to avoid kissing a person coming from a culture where kisses are only exchanged among lovers.
Another one would be to take your customer out for lunch to a very spicy place, especially in those countries where food is typically very spicy. Behaving perfectly in every situation is not what is sought here but making sure that your customer is comfortable always is one of your main task as a salesperson. If you are the one visiting, which is actually the most common case, you may need to prepare to some new behaviors that are not typical in your culture. In this situation, salespeople can adapt very well, inflexible people do not last long in sales.
9- Robot behavior
At this point, after all the point mentioned above, and with all this information, it is normal to feel that everything you do is potentially wrong and try not to exaggerate any behavior to be able to make the sale. Humans are not robots though, so it is ok to make mistakes. In fact, in some situations those mistakes will make you win the sale, since the person you have in front of you may have done them too.
The important thing on this situation is to act natural, for sure you will have higher probabilities if you avoid being inaccurate, but the most human action is to act natural and correct your mistakes sales call after sales call and not all at once.
10- Leaving without a commitment or next steps
As part of the preparation, you may have your value proposition ready. Another very important preparation for a sales call is to have in mind what are your objectives and the minimum and maximum advances that can be reached in that call. Advances on opportunities are almost always related to a customer commitment towards purchasing/acquiring what you sell. As a preparation for the meeting, you will have to define for the situation, what is the minimal commitment you can accept from the customer to consider it an advance. To climb the stair to the goal, the customer must climb it too, and every step must be taken together, you cannot take two steps at the time while your customer is still looking for the stair.