7 Common Mistakes That Kill a Sale
Don't send proposals or use the word 'contract' and other surprising missteps.
Picture this: you get to choose the clients you work with. Instead of being turned down by prospects, you’re the one turning them away.
If this sounds too good to be true, you might be one of the many entrepreneurs who believe rejection is part of the game — but it doesn’t have to be. Most salespeople hear “no” more than “yes” because they make several of these critical but common mistakes. Avoid them, and you’ll be the one calling the shots.
1. Having a sales mindset
This may seem counterintuitive, but don’t approach your prospect as a salesperson. Approach them as a solutions provider. You’re not trying to get something from them — you’re giving them something: a valuable solution to their problem.
Your tone is critical, especially in the first few seconds of the conversation. If you’re overly eager, excited, or enthusiastic, that tells your prospect, “I’m trying to sell you something.” You want to sound more like a doctor than a used-car salesperson. Doctors diagnose the problem, and you’re grateful for the medicine.
2. Being pushy
Many salespeople are too desperate or needy and become pushy as a result. Even if you do close the deal this way, the client won’t feel good about the transaction or recommend you to others.
Instead of pushing your agenda, pull the prospect toward you. You want the idea to come from them, not you. Help them make the conclusion that it makes sense to buy from you. Do this by asking about their problem or desire, then helping them visualize how you can solve it and how their life will improve if they work with you.
3. Giving away power
As a result of desperation, many salespeople also tend to give away control and agree to whatever the prospect wants. While this might close the deal, they end up with demanding clients who are never satisfied.
Start the relationship on the right foot by positioning yourself as their equal and setting boundaries and expectations early. When you communicate your value, the problem you’re solving, and why you’re uniquely qualified to address it, you don’t need to give away anything or justify your value or prices.
4. Discussing price too soon
Your prospect cares about two things: value and price. Before explaining your rates, you must communicate your value by articulating how you solve their problem.
Cost is only an issue in the absence of value — so if their desire or pain is strong enough and you have a compelling solution, no price is too high. But if a prospect asks for a discount or additional services, that means you’re talking about the price too soon, which puts you in an unprofessional bargaining situation.
When you do discuss price, don’t project your insecurities and values onto them by saying things like, “I’m expensive.” You are not your prospect. They have their unique perspective.
5. Allowing delays
You might need to have multiple conversations if you’re selling something that is hundreds of thousands of dollars. But most of the time, you should be able to close the sale in a single conversation. Delays kill deals, so don’t lose momentum.
If a potential client says that they need to think about it or talk to their business partner, that’s usually because they’re unsure or concerned about part of the deal. Ask them about their hesitation point-blank so you can get to the core of the issue and address it. For example, if they’re concerned about price, offer to help them with financing options or a payment plan.
6. Sharing proposals or case studies
If you’ve ever spent hours crafting the perfect proposal only to hear nothing in response, you know that proposals can be a waste of time. Yet many salespeople expect them to do the heavy lifting for them. If you can’t close someone when you’re connecting with them in the moment, what makes you think a proposal can do the job? These documents are only useful as an agreement to communicate expectations after you close the sale.
Be careful about discussing your other clients’ success stories. Your prospect doesn’t care about others. They want to know what you can do for their needs, so keep the conversation about them. You need to be especially present if you’re on the phone because it’s easier to lose their focus — and they lose interest, you’ve lost the sale.
7. Finalizing the deal the wrong way
After a prospect agrees to work with you, don’t sit in silence. Get what I call a “verbal handshake” to reaffirm the sale. Ask if they’re sure they’re ready to move forward. When they repeat it, you can move to the next step: discussing the terms.
Every word matters in sales. Your prospect is nervous that they’ll make the wrong decision, so don’t say “contract” when referencing a legal document. Call it an “agreement” or “paperwork,” which sounds less threatening. When you close the deal, congratulate your new client for taking action to improve their lives or business. Saying “congratulations” instead of “thank you” keeps it about them and maintains equality between both of you.
Sales is an art and a science. The science is what you say, while the art is your tone, mindset, and self-image. Master both of them, and you’ll become a master closer.
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