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Make No Mistake

The things you do--and don't do--could keep you from closing sales. Watch out for these 5 common mistakes, and learn how to avoid them.
December 1, 2005
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/81022

Everyone makes mistakes. Usually, these mistakes can be easily rectified by small changes in work habits, time management and--most important of all--attitude. The biggest mistake people make when selling is lack of enthusiasm. Customers are drawn to passionate people--if you're not passionate about what you're selling, even the best skills will go to waste.

Luckily, there's always room for improvement. Though we all make mistakes, we have the potential for improvement every day. Here are five common sales mistakes to watch out for:

1. Not making enough calls: Selling is a numbers game. A great attitude certainly opens up opportunities, but you also have to call as many people as possible. It's simple math--the more people you call, the higher the number of positive responses you'll get. A higher activity level increases your ability to connect with customers.

2. Not connecting with the right decision-makers: You won't close sales by calling on people who are not qualified to make the deal. If a prospect has no authority to make a decision, you have to ask tough questions like, "Is there anybody besides yourself who is involved in this decision that I should speak with?" Don't be afraid to call from the top down; the big guns just might take your call and direct you to the person who handles your type of product or service.

3. Not listening: Salespeople make this mistake many times--they're so busy thinking about what they're going to say next, they forget to listen to what the prospect is telling them. In my November column, I talked about asking smart questions. It's not only asking questions that counts--it's also getting prospects to expand on their answers and learning from what they say. Don't get so excited about what you're selling that you talk too much and stop listening.

4. Time mismanagement: Not closing enough deals is a time-management issue. It's important to keep your goals in sight, to be able to see the big picture, and to know where you are in every customer's sales cycle. It helps to have a visual reminder in front of you, perhaps a goal board or a diagram showing you what you need to do every day and how much time should be allotted to each activity. This will help you know when you should be closing. It's better to ask for the order early than not to ask at all.

5. Not recovering quickly enough: Everyone experiences rejections and setbacks. Deals that have been in the works for months or even years fall through. A sale that seems like a sure thing turns out to be dead in the water. If you take this rejection personally, it will diminish your enthusiasm and hinder you from moving on to the next sale. The most successful salespeople are able to shake off their disappointment and keep right on going. The reason most salespeople let rejection get to them goes back to mistake No. 1: They don't have enough activity to fall back on or other prospects to call. It's not failing or falling that's the problem--it's the inability to get back up again. The secret to dealing with setbacks is finding the positive after a negative encounter. Let that "No" motivate you to figure out a different approach so you'll get a "Yes."