The 12 Most Costly Sales Strategy Mistakes
The Top 12 Sales Strategy Mistakes Most Salespeople Make
In our experience, there are 12 common mistakes that most salespeople today make in their sales strategy resulting in wasted time and lost revenue:
Mistake #1: Blind Spots and Assumptions
Many salespeople don’t understand the strategic pains of the customer, the decision making process, or the root causes of the pains. They assume that because the customer is being nice to them that they must be the preferred vendor.
Mistake #2: Wrong People
Selling too low and talking to the wrong people in the sales process is another common sales strategy mistake. Salespeople tend to stay in their comfort zone and sell to those who are already sold rather than those who can really get the deal done. The key is figuring out whose votes you need and then getting them on your side early.
Mistake #3: Political Strategy
Each person on the buying committee has a different amount of power and plays a different role. Within their sales strategy, salespeople must identify key players and how they can influence their vote or live without it. The most effective tool in selling is a stakeholder analysis that identifies each stakeholder’s pain, power, preference, part and plan. If salespeople don’t have this level of information, they are watching what is happening – not making it happen.
Mistake #4: No Competitive Strategy
It is critical to anticipate, predict and be able to neutralize the competition. How do they plan to win? Who is helping them? What do they usually say about us? You must be able to differentiate yourself in a strategic manner and demonstrate how you solve their challenges better.
Mistake #5: Missed Losing Signals
There are many signals that indicate a deal is out of control – cancelled meetings, unreturned calls, new requirements late in the process, no access, etc. If salespeople can pick up on these signals fast enough, there is time to change the sales strategy. The earlier you realize a deal is out of control, the better chance there is of turning it around.
Mistake #6: Happy Ears
A positive mental attitude is an important quality of successful salespeople, but it can also cloud critical thinking and sales strategy. Sales managers have to ask critical questions and challenge assumptions to predict what could go wrong before it actually does. You don’t want bad news late in the game.
Mistake #7: Poor Team Leadership
Everyone who touches a deal should understand the politics and history of the deal and their individual role and action items. Salespeople must look at their job as a leadership position and it is the sales manager’s job to drill down and find out what is going on before it’s too late.
Mistake #8: Tactics Don’t Match Strategy
Often, salespeople do things in “reaction” mode or because someone asked them to when it does not contribute to a victory. Salespeople don’t get paid to be busy – they get paid to be effective. Matching your selling style to the individual personality style of the buyer results in better relationships, bonding and alignment overall.
Mistake #9: Poor Qualification
Many deals are over before they even begin because of a bad solution fit, bad cultural fit, or no source of urgency. How to effectively qualify deals will differ for each rep and company. Ultimately, it depends on your chance of winning, the resources it will take to “buy the next card,” and what else you have in your pipeline. Determining qualification criteria upfront takes emotion out of the equation, enabling salespeople to qualify out of bad deals and instead work on those they have a better chance of winning.
Mistake #10: No Deal Coaching or Strategy Reviews
Companies that do this well are simply more successful. Yet most sales managers claim they don’t have time to coach or don’t think coaching is their job. Instead, they spend their time propping-up weak salespeople, rescuing weak deals, or working on deals that are out of control rather than coaching deals before they become out of control. Having regularly scheduled sales strategy sessions with reps enables managers to help revise the strategy to ultimately win deals.
Mistake #11: No Closing Strategy
In this economy, it can take as long to navigate the approval process as it does the decision-making process. Procurement has become much more powerful and sometimes they are better at buying than salespeople are at selling. Salespeople must document their differentiators and update their stakeholder analysis on players that come in late including additional executives, IT, procurement, finance and legal. ROI alone won’t close the deal. Consider your sales strategy – your solution must have a political pain or gain for a powerful person who will push it across the CFO’s desk.
Mistake #12: No Plan B
When new information emerges, retest your sales strategy. Issues change and power struggles over priorities emerge the closer stakeholders get to making a decision. You should always have a Plan B (and C). If you try one sales strategy and it doesn’t work, there may not be time for a huddle. Flexibility and agility are critical.