The truth is, knowing what not to do in sales is just as powerful as knowing what to do. Make sense? So I’ve assembled a list of 10 of the dumbest things that we’ve seen salespeople do — things that are virtually guaranteed to totally and completely derail your selling career.
1. They don’t become students of their craft.
They begin strong selling careers, and they really get into it — but then they go to sleep at the switch and forget to do things like read industry publications or new books by sales masters. They don’t go to sales seminars. They don’t listen to recordings or view videos on sales-related topics. In short, they don’t constantly reinvigorate themselves.
Did you know that golfer Tiger Woods spends a million dollars a year on his swing coach? A million dollars working on his swing, every year! He is always looking to get better — and look where he is.
I am amazed by salespeople who don’t spend more than $10 a year on their own professional growth. We’re in a profession that’s changing by leaps and bounds, and we’re already into the 21st century. If you’re still selling the way you sold in the last century — you’re in trouble.
2. They don’t “narrowcast” their offering.
They don’t become specialists at a segment, or a particular type of market, or at delivering a specific type of product. They stay generalists.
Think about it. People get paid more to be medical specialists than they do to be medical generalists. The specialist has narrowcasted his offering.
The most successful salespeople master the art of narrowcasting their offerings. They become well-known specialists in selling one thing, and people come to them for that one thing, every time they need it.
3. They fail to position themselves correctly.
The way people position themselves determines how they’re seen by their prospects and customers. In short, people pay attention to people whom they perceive as having something important to say to them.
The best way to sell is to not position yourself as a salesperson, but to position yourself as an expert. One of the best ways we’ve seen to position yourself is to host an information session or how-to clinic on a topic related to what you sell. For example, a realtor might offer a seminar on “How to Get Financed for the Home You Want.”
The goal of these sessions isn’t to sell something, per se. Instead, it’s to show people you know a lot about everything to do with your business, and that you’re willing to share your knowledge.
4. They fail to prospect.
This is huge. The biggest cause of failure in sales is having an inadequate supply of qualified prospects. How do you get prospects? Like I mentioned earlier — host informative sessions for prospective clients. Or send mailings to targeted lists. Speak at association meetings. Host user’s groups. Offer a Webinar.
You always should have multiple methods of prospecting, because you want to be sure you’ve got a variety of types of prospects constantly filling your pipeline. Take advantage of all the latest digital technologies that really can make it seamless and simple to deploy effective prospecting strategies into the marketplace.
5. They get in front of the wrong people.
There’s an old statement that goes like this: “You can’t get rich selling to the wrong people.” You had better be in front of people who:
- Can make a decision.
- Have a need.
- Have a perceived problem, or a “pain.”
- Are willing to listen to you.
It can be easy to confuse activity with results because you may be worried most about reports and numbers you give to your sales manager. You want to be able to say, “Well, I was in front of 200 people.” But, my question to you is, “Are they the right 200 people?”
Your own self-image, your sense of self-worth, and how well you’ve positioned yourself are all going to affect whether you’re in front of the right people. And the problem is, if you enter at the wrong level, it’s very hard to work yourself up. You may alienate the people you first interfaced with, and the people who are at the top won’t see you as having something valuable to say, because you didn’t get to them in the first place.