As long as too many salespeople continue to make the following three mistakes, your sales costs will be too high. A higher conversion rate and a higher margin on your deals can be achieved by avoiding the following errors:
1. Incomplete needs analysis
Unfortunately, this is a classic mistake: questions are limited to what is required for drawing up an offer. This results in conversations that do not offer any added value, neither for the customer nor for the potential supplier. The customer gets an offer based on a rather superficial diagnosis, but not necessarily a good solution to his/her problem.
A number of additional questions help to better map the context:
- Who else is involved?
- By when should you be able to use the solution? (this is a customer-oriented version of the question “when will you decide?”)
- What do you wish to achieve?
- What is the ideal solution for you?
- To what extent do your colleagues share this view?
- How will you make sure that the best decision is made?
2. Making too many price offers too soon
The seller continues to push the customer. The seller had not made sufficient inquiries into the context and then explained what the ideal solution would be from his/her own perspective; now the time has come to try to prove these claims through an offer. Whether or not the customer has already made up his/her mind does not seem to matter.
When the offer has been sent, there are three possibilities. Everything turns out all right and the deal is settled shortly afterwards. A less positive outcome is also possible: you lose control of the customer because he/she no longer has any reason to keep in touch once everything has been written down. Now your competitors can further influence your prospect.
Or you end up in a situation where you keep on making new versions of offers. This is not good for the sales costs and causes the customer to doubt. The seller thinks the customer has changed his/her mind once again. The customer, in turn, thinks the seller falls short because he/she always has to propose changes.
These deals are easily identifiable by the following two situations:
- The decision date is delayed once or several times
- Several offers are made for the same opportunity. This can also be measured quite easily
3. Not providing the customer with what he/she really needs
Imagine yourself going to the doctor, who immediately gives you a prescription because you’re the tenth patient that day who has come to see him with a runny nose. This makes a diagnosis superfluous, or does it? You wouldn’t accept this from a doctor, but many salespeople still behave like all-knowing oracles. They concentrate on what they want to sell to the customer and only hear what they want to hear.
This creates an area of tension between the seller and the customer which usually results in the seller continuing to talk, trying to convince the customer and discussing technical details. But does the customer feel understood? In this context, it is crucial to imagine yourself in the customer’s situation. In other words, are you prepared to put yourself in the customer’s place?
This can be avoided by really listening to the customer, interacting with them, trying to fully understand their context, taking the appropriate sales actions in the purchase phase, talking to the right people from the customer, giving advice and ensuring follow-up of customers who are not yet ready to buy by the marketing or inside sales department.