Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Top 10 Sales Mistakes Small Businesses Make

It's easy to track sales figures and determine just where your business stands with regard to making its quota for the month. However, what those numbers might not show is exactly what mistakes are being made by you or your sales force. Even with decent numbers there is always room for improvement. See if you recognize any of these top 10 sales mistakes in your company's sales staff.

1. Not taking the time to listen to your customers.
Every decent salesperson has perfected their pitch. Sometimes it's hard to stop that "train" once it is rolling down the track. However, when you stop listening to your customers you're missing out on the ability to adjust your pitch to meet their specific needs. Listening could open up an entirely new and winnable approach.

2. Making the hard sell.
Being passionate about the product you're selling is a good thing but you need to know when to back off from the hard sell. If your sales pitch is all about pushing towards the sale then you might find your customers backing off from such aggressiveness. This mistake goes hand in hand with the "not listening" one. Take a breath and give your customers a chance to process.

3. Not doing research on your product.
Often a salesperson thinks they've "got it" when it comes to pitching a new product or service. Yet, that rush to hit the sales floor could hamper a sale if that agent isn't as familiar with the details of the product as they should be. It's hard to anticipate every question a customer might have but that is certainly a good goal to strive for.

4. Jumping to the close.
The "ABC" of sales is "Always Be Closing" but that doesn't mean jumping to the close right out of the gate. A customer wants to feel like they are being taken care of. That holds true for someone shopping in a store or online. Take the time to build a relationship with the customer. Online this can mean providing them with engaging content that they care about. Once that relationship has been firmly established, making the close will be a lot easier.

5. Forgetting to close.
The opposite of the sales mistake above is not getting to the close. Every sales pitch should end with some kind of call to action such as, "Can I place this order for you?" Don't assume the customer will always jump in and offer the close. Be subtle but make sure it's part of the experience.

 6. Veering off the sale.
You definitely want to build a relationship with your customers but that doesn't mean spending hours talking about the great game from last weekend or swapping recipes. Too much chattering can have you veering off the topic at hand which is the sale itself. Nothing wrong with getting comfortable with your customer but keep focused on the goal of closing the sale.

7. Not knowing who you're selling to.
If you're operating out of a store or online portal you won't really know who a customer is when they approach your business. However, if you are going out to make a sale you need to understand who you're approaching and what their needs are. That holds true for a client lunch or working the trade show floor. A little research will go a long way.

8. Being too "smart".
Sales people like to think they can size up a customer with a quick look. While a majority of those first impressions could be accurate just as many could be wrong. Don't assume you have everything figured out about a customer by the way they dress or their look.

9. Ignoring good leads.
Are you an impulsive shopper or do you like to take your time before taking the plunge? Your customers run the same gambit. They either will make up their mind fast or need a little time. For those who can't quite decide you need to follow-up with those leads. This is especially true is someone has asked for additional information. Don't waste a lead.

10. Not expanding the customer base.
A business like a food truck has the ability to go where the people are. The key is finding out those locations. In many respects, you've always got to be on the lookout for ways to expand your customer base. You can't rely on repeat business alone to drive up your sales numbers. 

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