12 Ways Your Sales Process Is Alienating People
Like it or not, business demands schedules and organization. This is especially challenging for sales reps who have to make their schedules while considering their prospects' schedules.
It’s understandable when sales reps occasionally trip up, but these 12 mistakes are alienating their prospects and hurting their chances of closing a sale.
1. Offering limited meeting options.
Even if you’re using a smart scheduling tool, you should provide some flexibility. After all, what’s the point of trying to schedule a meeting when you’re only willing to meet on Wednesday at 4 p.m.? Just because you’re free one specific day or time doesn’t mean the other person is.
I set aside Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons for meetings. I leave my calendar open so there are more options for anyone who wants to request a meeting. If nothing's been scheduled, I shift my focus to another task.
2. Not asking them what they want.
Your client’s or prospect's time is valuable. As such, you don’t want to waste it by beating around the bush. This may sound like common sense, but sales reps often do this for two reasons: (1) They’re afraid of the client saying “no”; (2) They don’t really have a purpose for scheduling a meeting.
Always have a clear objective in mind, and express that from the get-go. A prospect will sometimes reject you, but if you give him an intriguing reason and purpose for meeting with you, he’ll be less likely to say no.
3. Not using a scheduling tool.
Your pitch was spot-on; your prospect wants to learn more by meeting with you or your rep. The problem? You suggest a date and time; the client can’t meet then because she's out of town. The next thing you know, it takes a whole string of emails just to schedule a meeting.
Calendar tools can eliminate this back-and-forth scheduling. By sharing calendar availability via email or an embedded link with a potential client, she can pick the time that works for her. Once she does, the meeting is automatically added to everyone’s calendar.
Even better? The smartest of these tools use machine learning based on a rep's previous meetings, making suggestions for the best day, time or even location for the next meeting.
4. Selling at the door.
Door-to-door salesmen, understandably, start selling from the second you open the door, offering all sorts of too-good-to-be-true incentives, like free installation or a lifetime guarantee. Homeowners put up their guard because it sounds like a scam.
The same is true when scheduling meetings with your leads. Don’t “dangle the carrot” in front of them -- they’ll see right through it. For example, let's say a door-to-door salesman wants to meet to discuss the benefits of installing new windows, such as helping the environment while saving money on heating and cooling or increasing your security. By letting you know the benefits, he can gauge whether you’re interested and let you set up an appointment for a free inspection.
5. Not tying scheduling meetings to lead generation.
To prevent wasting anyone’s time, you should first determine whether a prospect fits your lead qualification criteria. For instance, if you offer accounting services for SMBs, you wouldn’t want to book a lunch meeting with a couple looking for a personal accountant.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by using contact forms throughout your website. This allows you to capture the prospect’s information: name, contact information and what services/products they’re interested in. If they’re a match with your business, your sales rep can schedule a meeting.
6. Closing only once.
Remember, “closing” is a process. For example, your rep's first interaction could be just getting a prospect’s phone number to connect directly. After some relationship building, such as sending content he’ll find useful, he sets up the meeting. If that's successful, he can supply the next steps for closing the deal.
In other words, it’s all about building a relationship. This establishes trust, gives you a competitive edge and segments your leads. You'll know whether a lead is truly interested in doing business with you or just “kicking the tires.”
7. Being annoyingly persistent.
Seasoned sales reps don’t fear the word “no.” It’s better to get a good “no” than a bad “yes.” You don’t want to meet with a lead who has no interest in doing business with you. Additionally, it allows you to learn from your mistakes. Maybe the client just wasn’t ready for a pitch; instead, ask what he would be interested in for the time being.
The next time a (seeming) prospect turns down a meeting opportunity, don’t get defensive or argumentative. Move on to the next without making one last push.
8. Having too many appointments with the wrong prospects.
Your calendar is booked solid. Awesome! Unfortunately, when you start meeting with these potential clients you realize the majority aren’t in your target audience. The meetings are pointless for you and them.
Again, only schedule a meeting with qualified leads. What's more, you can set up your scheduling software so it will only schedule an appointment if the other party requests it.
9. Making open-ended suggestions instead of asking a direct question.
When it comes to scheduling sales meetings, ask direct questions instead of making vague suggestions. For example, if you say, “It would be great to meet on Tuesday afternoon,” the prospect can respond many ways without agreeing to meet. When you ask, “Can you meet on Tuesday afternoon?” there are only two possible replies: “Yes, I can” or “No, I can’t.”
10. Talking too much.
Silence can be awkward, so you keep talking. The result is in an exchange in which your rep repeatedly requests a meeting as the prospect frantically buzzes through his email. Rather than continue to follow up, your sales rep can hold his tongue, provoking the prospect to respond with an available time. That makes it seem like his idea, not your rep's, and that is much more appealing.
The sound of silence can encourage a potential client to make the next move on his terms, without feeling pressured.
11. Booking the same room and following the same format.
Do you have a go-to meeting location, like a conference room or a favorite restaurant? There’s nothing wrong with that, but using the same meeting location and format can make you lackadaisical.
Switch things up every now and then. Meet a client in her office, try that new coffee shop or suggest a walk-and-talk meeting.
12. Showing up late and unprepared.
This is one of the most common -- and damaging -- mistakes sales rep make. Using a scheduling app ensures they won’t forget a meeting because they’ll receive email and SMS reminders. Smart scheduling tools will even give weather and traffic updates and suggest when to leave to make a meeting on time.
Scheduling tools also let you include notes on your calendar. If you’re meeting a client who's interested in a specific service, you could make a note to bring marketing materials related to that service.
Your sales reps are the very people selling others on your company, but they could be pushing people away more often than they're pulling them in. By eliminating these "dirty dozen," your sales team can ensure it's known for being organized and prepared -- not for alienating others.