And then there are stumbling blocks that are caused by the sales reps themselves.
No sales rep is perfect, and yes, mistakes—like forgetting to call back or missing a meeting—happen. What matters is that these are corrected so that the same mistakes are not committed again. But then there are some mistakes that sales reps are not aware they’re committing. Or they’re doing the action, but they’re doing it all wrong.
Here are the things your sales reps can be doing wrong—and how you can correct them.
1. Not personalizing the customer experience
If the customer is repeatedly ignoring a sales rep’s efforts, it may be because his efforts aren’t good enough. Sending template emails and proposals; using template scripts during calls… these are just some of the quickest ways to get ignored by clients or, worse, turn them off.
Solution: Sales reps need to research their prospects before making contact. They need to understand what client needs, and what solutions and value he can offer them. This is one way sales reps can personalize their proposition, message, and all other kinds of content they send their prospects. Organizations must also look into implementing hyper-personalization strategies, and investing in the right tools and technology to make personalization easier for their reps.
2. Thinking that communication skills are all about how they talk
Sales reps need to learn how to communicate very well. It's true: they must be articulate, clear, and compelling. But they're missing a key communication skill: listening. And so we’ve seen a lot of charming talkers but what we don’t see enough of are active listeners.
When sales reps actively listen to prospects, they can learn so much about the prospects’ pain points, challenges, aspirations, and motivations to purchase. They can discover more from even just five minutes of active listening.
Active listening—or listening for that matter—is not hearing. We hear songs all the time, maybe even listen to them, but oftentimes, we don’t really understand what the songs are all about. You’re probably thinking, “But songs are not always literal!” True. But so are some clients. In fact, they can be vague, and some don’t even know what they want. A smart sales rep knows that clients don’t always tell you everything. You need to follow up with questions, and you can only do that if you listen to them in the first place. Sometimes you even need to read their body language.
Solution: Sales trainings must include active listening. It’s a skill not all sales reps possess, and it’s also something most sales managers fail to recognize as an important asset. Sales managers can teach this by example. Show them how it's done and become active listeners yourselves.
3. Failing to establish the next steps
All sales reps make phone calls and set meetings and demos all the time, but not all sales reps do this very crucial step post-call or meeting: establishing what’s next. They seem to think that the customer will tell them what’s supposed to happen next, when in fact, sales reps should always take the lead on this.
After a call, for example, a sales rep should say, “Thank you for your time. It’s been great talking to you. I’ve really learned a lot about your company and I really think that we can help you streamline your internal processes for greater work output. I would love the chance to show you how in person. Would you be free Tuesday 9am or Wednesday 2pm next week for a quick presentation?”
Solution: Sales reps must be trained to create opportunities that help keep prospects engaged so they can be nurtured and potentially converted to actual customers. Sales reps should also learn how to establish the next steps even if the initial (or second, or third…) contact wasn’t so successful. They need to be able to counter most, if not all, objections.
4. Not getting and/or responding to feedback
Some sales reps fail to understand the importance of feedback—from clients, prospects, superiors, or colleagues. Feedback helps them improve many aspects: their performance, their skills, even the product they’re selling.
In fact, a lot of sales reps are allergic to feedback. They instantly assume it’s negative, or a criticism.
Solution: Sales managers should instill a culture of transparency and providing constructive feedback within a team. They should do this often via microtraining—or any form of sales training that’s viable to them. A sales manager should even encourage his members to give him feedback about himself. This way, sales reps see feedback not as a problem but as an important tool in their team’s communication and development processes.
5. Focusing on features and/or price, not value
A sales rep can provide a long list of his product’s features to a prospect, but if not one of those features resonates with the prospect, then his efforts will all just go to waste.
Most sales reps make the mistake of thinking that a host of features and low pricing will sell a product. They need to understand that when selling a product, they need to answer these questions: “What value does the customer get from my product?” “What customer problem am I solving with my product?” “What customer need am I fulfilling with my product?”
Solution: The only way you can provide value to a customer is by understanding what he needs or wants. Effectively communicating with clients and actively listening to them are skills sales reps must possess, and so they must be vigorously trained in these areas.
6. Not motivated to learn more
It’s a simple fact: Sales reps that lack the motivation to learn more and be better are not cut out for success. Drive is an important attribute in a sales rep. That’s because the job doesn’t get easier, and sales reps need to constantly do better than their last sale.
Solution: Develop a culture of learning within the team. How? Recognize and celebrate wins, big or small. This will help motivate reps to achieve what the others have. Encourage learning by setting up regular coaching sessions and other proven sales training methods.
Photos by rawpixel.com from Pexels