8 lessons from our sales tigers
The word that every salesperson dreams of. As much as we like to hear the YES at the end of our sales journey, reality is often different. The road leading up to that magic word and a closed deal is a rocky one. Although paved with good intentions, we too often get lost in the fog of must do’s, causing us to stumble. Sometimes, however, the absence of one thing is just as important as the presence of another. Therefore, let’s take a look at what NOT to do in a sales pitch. Based on years of experience, we have collected the 8 most important things you shouldn’t do or never start doing. Let’s see what our consultants want to share with you:
Lesson 1: Don’t justify yourself in the first seconds. There is no second chance to make a first impression. Poisoning it with excuses (“I was in a traffic jam”) and answers to questions not asked (“I hope my laptop works”) won’t get you anywhere, especially not closer to your potential client’s trust and goodwill. What you’re actually communicating is: I am a poor planner and I don’t take our meeting seriously enough to practice beforehand. The moment you stop using unnecessary justifications is the moment you start creating an image of confidence and maturity.
Lesson 2: Don’t exaggerate the use of technology. Taking a picture of your client’s business card with your smartphone, then returning the business card saying “Thanks, I don’t need it anymore,” does not make you look like a technological high-flyer; it makes you look disrespectful and disconnected from reality.
As our reader, you might be flabbergasted and think this example is a joke. Sadly, that’s not the case - the homo smartphonian is always good for a surprise. Even in our modern world, certain rituals still exist and it is these rituals that allow us to make a connection.
Lesson 3: Don’t brag (about the wrong things). “Yesterday I was in Singapore where I usually stay in this 5 star hotel…by the way, I parked my Porsche in front of the entrance.” Incredible views from rooftop terraces in exotic destinations or luxury cars might get you beautiful pictures for the family album and admiring glances, but not the respect and professional reputation you deserve. There is no correlation between the quality of your watch and the quality of your work. While you think you’re impressing him, the client may see you as insecure or even needy.
Lesson 4: Don’t play the saviour. “No worries, I’m here to take you away from the darkness and bring you into a brighter future.” Pretending to save your client from impending doom is likely to work against you. Especially if you give the impression that this is nothing more than another "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" moment for you. We all have the inherent need for autonomy and recognition. By positioning yourself as the hero who has seen it all, you cast the other in the role of helpless infant that needs to be rescued. This can come across as patronizing, creating an imbalance in the relationship, which is likely to lead to rejection of you and your offer.
Lesson 5: Don’t be too authentic. This may seem counterintuitive. Isn’t authenticity my personal unique selling point? Authenticity, showing and making use of your true personality, is indeed an indispensable component in your sales success. On the other hand, exaggerating authenticity, also known as the “my way or the highway syndrome,” can make you come across as stubborn and can even raise doubts about your trustworthiness. Are you yes, buting, unable to accept even the slightest feedback and suggestions from your counterpart because all you want is to leave your mark on the project?
Lesson 6: Don’t always agree with your client. Of course your counterpart will love to be right. As a client, what could be better than having the sales person agree with you? Nevertheless, always giving in to the desire of pleasing, thus staying in agreement mode, can backfire. By not daring to take a different stance and challenging your client, you might have a smooth sales talk, but ultimately you run the risk of being soon forgotten. It is through positive confrontation and constructive triggering that we create real added value and discover true underlying needs.
Lesson 7: Don’t be too glad after the close. “I thought we would never come to an agreement. That was really tough. I’m so happy we managed this deal.” By all means, vent the anxiety built up during a tough close and pop the bottle of champagne to congratulate yourself, as long as you do it mentally or back in the office with your colleagues. Voicing your fears and painting the image that you are almost surprised to receive the signature can create feelings of doubt and insecurity in the mind of the other. This sets you off on a bad start or, in the worst case scenario, may lead to the client revoking his decision.
Lesson 8: Don’t forget that the real work starts now. You have reached your goal. The YES has been said loudly and clearly and you are about to pack your briefcase to move on to the next challenge. If you think this is where your journey ends, you’ve never been more wrong. The YES is your signal that the real work is about to start. Only when you continue to invest the same energy into the project as you have into getting the signature and live up to what you have promised, will you build a long-lasting client relationship. And with one satisfied costumer, that next YES is just around the corner.
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