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Starting a Sales Career? Three Mistakes to Avoid!..
or…Where Did My Commission Check Go?

(Part 1 of a 4 Part series)

Some say that I have had a successful sales career.  I have provided consultation and presented new services and technical products to the American and International corporate sector for over 30 years. During this period, I have witnessed the art and technique of making a sale metamorphize over that time.  The days of Mad Men have now been replaced with new technology and opportunities via social media and e-commerce: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Ads, Yelp, and many more sites too numerous to list.

No matter how good your social media expertise may be, or how many contacts/friends that you boast, there is no getting around one marketing fact, the one fact will NEVER change, that fact: you will eventually have to interact directly, in person, with the influencer or decision maker to close the sale!

For those who find themselves in this most difficult, albeit financially rewarding profession, please take note of three tidbits of information I would like to share with you.  Three common mistakes to avoid. You only have ONE opportunity to make a favorable impression.  Here are three easy ways to prevent leaving the sale behind you as you walk out of your prospective client’s door.

1. Do not be afraid to say NO to your potential client.

One of the greatest mistakes one can make is to be so engrossed in the fact that you even made it into the decision maker’s presence, that you let the buyer take over the sale.  Your presentation went so well that the buyer is EXTREMELY interested in your services.  The purchaser is so excited about how pleased his superior is going to be when he presents your product or service to him!   You see that the buyer’s face is lit up with a smile from ear to ear and eyes are glowing with excitement.  You think you have it made!  You envision the item that you have wanted for so long – this commission check will be so AWESOME!!!!   Beware!  The road to closing this sale is filled with land mines!!!!

The buyer might be totally unfamiliar with your technology, or the product that you are promoting: as a result, unrealistic expectations are a booby trap!  In your glow of excitement, you must protect yourself AND protect your client!  His convention meeting can be right around the corner and you are asked for an unobtainable deadline!  Or the product specs he requests are beyond the scope of your company’s expertise! Perhaps the client has high expectations on an unrealistic budget:  he wants a Beamer for a Smart car price.  To any of these scenarios do not be afraid use the word NO!  You will not lose the sale for correcting a misunderstanding, or a misinterpretation of your product or services. By saying NO, you can retake the role as a consultant, and earn the respect of the potential buyer. A procurer will always be grateful for not letting her/him make a purchasing mistake. Remember their career is on the line too!

2. The Chameleon will die!

One of the most important obstacles one must overcome in the process of beginning a sales presentation is to develop propriety: the ability to develop trust or at the very least a comfort level with your prospect.  In the sales jungle, no two animals are going to frolic with each other until they have had a chance to size the other up!  After all you are asking your prospect to give you a part of the company’s budget.  You are the visiting Tiger and it would not be realistic for your client to throw you one of his most coveted steaks!  The buyer’s reputation is on the line and the money isn’t going to flow from his hands easily.

The best advice I can give a young AE is to be true to yourself.  Don’t try to be a chameleon and try to anticipate what your prospect is thinking or what their thresholds are.  Resist the temptation to say what you think your prospect wants to hear.  Not everybody likes the same music so don’t start humming a tune in hopes that your client likes country music when in fact hip hop is their preference.

I recommend against giving false compliments – presenting reliable information will be better received than feigning admiration. Buyers have a turnstile for a door.  You are just another person trying to get the keys to the kingdom.  You are being judged on your character as much as your product. If you are comfortable within yourself that will emanate during your presentation and be well received with your audience:  whether it is a single person or a board room of executives.

Obviously guessing your client’s politics is a sales tragedy waiting to happen.  Name dropping is also a major faux pas.  You just might be dropping a name of a person your client despises.  This said, your neatly coiffed hair will be windblown from the haste of your exit as you are shown the door!   The best way to lose a sale is for the potential prospect to suspect that you are not genuine.

3. Time is a ticking bomb! The longer you stay the more likely it will explode!

There is an adage: “A little can say a lot, and a lot can say a little.” You just met your client for the first time.  It will take more than one meeting to completely understand your prospect’s threshold, their needs, or their anticipations.  Keep your first meeting on target and to the point. Seldom is a sale made on your first visit.  You don’t know your client’s itinerary for the day. They might have another pressing meeting, or you are their last appointment before they hit the links.  It just might be as simple as they don’t have the time for a person who talks more than they want to hear.  There is no better way to throw water on a sale’s fire- than talking too much!  Trust me, you will read your prospect’s body language if you have over stayed their threshold.  Kiss the sale goodbye when you see your prospects eyes glaze over while shifting in their chair and checking their iPhone.  That uncomfortable feeling of how to get rid of you will be so very evident.

In short, as your start your sales career, avoid the above pitfalls: manage your presentation and always have realistic goals and expectations. Be yourself and always conduct yourself with integrity.  Have a structured timeline, this consideration will go a long way in building a good relationship with prospect.

Next ArticleSales vs Production:  I promised this result:  you did WHAT!!!!

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