What are the most common mistakes of salespeople that result to loss of revenue and profit opportunities? – James, COO

Perhaps if a sales personnel assessment in your company can be conducted, we can diagnose individual flaws and pinpoint flagrant, inefficient practices relative to specific channel selling missions. Meanwhile, allow me to share the findings from our extensive exposure to a very wide variety of industries that utilize salespeople to prospect, develop new accounts or expand business in existing customers, whether on field, over the phone or even retail, across business-to-consumer and business-to-business contexts.

#1-Obsolete Selling Method
The most common mistake is using the mythological gospel of “present, handle objections and close”!  By itself, this 20th century abomination is responsible for 67% of lost revenue opportunities across industries, three times the squandered selling time owing to long selling cycles and re-work. This seller-convenient configuration is now replaced by a customer-centric aligned algorithm that hand-holds customers through their own psycho-socio-logical buying flow, using their own consumer or business logic. Properly executed, sales conversion can be tripled, selling cycles be cut by two thirds, and a positive customer experience can be maintained.

#2-Inadequate Discovery Skills
For most Jurassic hard-sellers, persuasion and closing techniques are their main weapons, ignorant of the actual buyer-psychological algorithm. Predictably, their aggressive, ‘Tyrannosaur-ian’ manners trigger buyer defenses. Some hard truths:

1. Unless your business is a relevant monopoly with a maturely established demand, individual or organizational customers make the buying decision, not the sellers.

2. People and companies buy for their reasons and not the sellers’.  Therefore, for an interested customer to ink a deal, he needs to affirmatively match the proposition with his buying criteria.

No matter how cute or brash persuasion and closing techniques salespeople deploy, customers will remorselessly buy only if their criteria are satisfied. Failure to discover these criteria is suicidal, making discovery critical compared to persuasion or closing techniques. Further bad news: closing techniques are obsolete and unnecessary. Truth be told, should salespeople enable customers to see the match between proposition and criteria, given proper timing, customers themselves will close the deal without requiring arm twisting.

But why do non-suicidal albeit naïve salespeople still get gutted down? Well, because they still inappropriately bring knives to long-range automatic-gunfights! Relying on open and close-ended probes is simply inadequate. These have to be augmented with situational and surgically-precise probes that draw out customer decision factors in the most efficient, fluid, and conversational manner that test not the patience of short-fused, ultra-brief attention-spanned Generation Y customers or time productivity-conscious, multi-tasked top executives.

#3-Poor Obstacle Handling and Negotiating Skills
The third most common malpractice is dumping all selling issues into a bucket called “objections”.  Similar to a doctor curing or alleviating a patient’s ailments, if he immediately concludes that all diseases are like “objections” then he will need to put every patient under the knife for surgery. Mansmith’s findings reveal that of 9 ‘taxonomized’ obstacles, only 3 are objections. If the right tool should be used for the right job, then the salesperson’s obstacle handling skill begins with accurately, yet swiftly diagnosing the issue that the customer has, clarifying as needed and only after can he apply the situational and personality-appropriate handling method from among many in his utility belt.

Another malpractice is negotiating prematurely. Imagine dropping a nuclear bomb to kill a fly. There are 2 selling conditions that necessitate the utilization of negotiation: when persuasion adequately synthesized from discovery has failed, or when despite correctly-executed obstacle handling, an obstruction known as a ‘drawback’ (when a customer decision factor cannot be acquiesced to or the company is unwilling to grant) has temporarily stymied the deal’s progress. To break the stalemate, one of the parties must modify its position. This is the only scientifically acceptable reason to cross the portal between selling and negotiation. Misdiagnosed reasons simply place the company unnecessarily in peril, when negotiation unlocks a Pandora’s Box of possibilities that can lead to inadvertently squandering company resources and profits. A quick test to check if your salespeople know how to negotiate is if they can clearly define the gargantuan difference between negotiating and its poor cousin, bargaining.


Rowen Untivero is a Partner and Chief Sales Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. He trains, coaches and consults with top-rate companies and SMEs using his original, practicable and scientific contributions into sales, negotiation and management. Rowen conducts selling skills and selling systems assessments for companies. He will also be conducting seminars on Effective Negotiation on June 3-4 and Superior Selling Skills on July 8-9. Please send your questions, comments or feedback to rowen@mansmith.net. You can also visit www.mansmith.net.
visit www.mansmith.net.