Two BIG Sales Mistakes

Two BIG sales mistakes sales people make are they assume and they don’t get enough information.

I think Jill Harrington got this right in her post: Two Things Sunk the Titantic: They’ll Also Sink Your Sales Results

I don’t normally find good information on sales and selling strategies as much of it is the tired information many of us have been victimized by in one company sponsored training or another.

However, Jill nailed it in her post. She compares the sinking of the Titantic to two things, the 90% factor and assumptions. The correlation is like an iceberg, 90% of the information a sales person needs sits below the surface. Secondly, it’s like the Titantic captain and crew, assuming it couldn’t sink. Sales people make assumptions that kill them every day.

The 90% factor is an excellent metaphor. Sales people miss the critical information ALL the time and by doing so they miss fantastic opportunities to separate themselves from the competition, strengthen their relationships, and sell more.

I like how Jill lays it out here:

The 90% takes work to expose (in terms of planning, preparation, thinking, listening and analysis) which is why much of it remains undisclosed. Within the 90% lies your source of powerful differentiation. Left uncovered, it is the stuff that will sink otherwise sound sales opportunities.

To get you thinking, here are a few elements of “the 90%” that commonly get missed and catch proficient sales pros off guard:

The meaning and implications of the facts from the client’s point of view
The perspectives and priorities of the key stakeholders
The” informal” decision influences on this specific buying decision
The buyers’ disposition to you and to your competition
The conditions that will govern how, and if, the customer will move forward
Management preference and personal motives
This purchasing decision in the context of bigger corporate priorities

Are you overlooking the 90%? What might you be missing, and how might you approach this important phase of the sales cycle differently?

The assumptions sales people make are also killers. The thing I am most aware of in my organization is the assumptions. I talk about how to manage assumptions with your teams here in this post: Evidence. Sales people will assume they understand what is going on, who the decision makers are, why they are buying, when a deal will close etc. But, they don’t ask and get evidence, they assume. Operating from assumptions is the fastest way to losing.

Another quote from the post:

When we make assumptions, we …

… listen selectively and miss the critical information that will win us the sale.
… ask biased questions that take us down a path to nowhere.
… fail to accept information that doesn’t justify our assumption.
… focus our limited time and energy on the wrong opportunities.

What I like most about Jill’s post is the two are symbiotic. By digging for the other 90% few assumptions can be made. By not making assumptions decisions are made with good data.

Get under the surface. Don’t assume what you see is everything, and don’t assume that you have all the answers. If you do, the water can be pretty cold.