There are a hundred or more mistakes you can make when selling your services to a prospective client. But this one is the worst one you can make.
Note: The following is the transcript from my latest YouTube video entitled “The Biggest Sales Mistake You Can Make.”
I want to share what I think is the biggest mistake people make in sales.
I believe the biggest mistake people make in sales is announcing the solution too soon, trying to prescribe before you’ve diagnosed, going into a sales a call with your presentation and pitch ready without first taking the time to really hear out and to really listen to what the person that you are across from has to say.
Anytime you walk in with preconceived notions, preconceived prescriptions or you go, “I’ve looked at this business online. I know exactly what they need.” Or, “I can already tell what they are in need of.” Anytime you can catch yourself saying that stuff I want to invite you to stop, to stop and say, “You know, I’m going to go in and just listen.”
It’s an interesting phenomenon, right? It’s like, “What? You’re not going to go pre-planned?” Well, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying don’t do your research. I certainly look up a business online. I go through and I find their website. I look up their information. I dig on LinkedIn. I look at their profiles. I try to gather as much information as I can and then I try to write some questions out of that information that I find.
Like for instance, if I see they won a reward so I might ask them what they think contributed to them winning their award. Or I might take note of a certain PR or a certain opening, or a certain, you know, new staff member hired or whatever it might be and then ask them how that move or that transaction or how that piece of information has gone for them, et cetera, things that make them say sometimes, “Hey Joe, sounds like you’ve really done your homework.”
That part’s fine, but I don’t go in with prescriptions ready to just start pitching to them. I don’t go … Even if I only have one or two types of services I ever offer I don’t go in with a plan for them until I find out from them what their needs are, what their wants are and desires. And yes, sometimes you know, they’ll express their pain and I’m not real big on like you have to drive out all the pain, but they do need to maybe share what their challenges are and what their hurdles are and obstacles and barriers in the business are so you can maybe help them bust through those barriers and get over those walls? Of course.
And so I’ll ask them, “What types of challenges are you facing and what types of things do you think are kind of barriers to your success right now? What obstacles are in front of you guys that you’d love to be able to hurdle over?” And I’ll find that stuff out but I do it in a way that just conversates with them and listens first rather than trying to prescribe a bunch of solutions too early in the process.
That’s why the first part of my process is just to gather information, listen, okay? Let them tell you what they need. This is based on that principle, sometimes you hear, like people will tell you and give you all the information that you need in order to sell them and that’s true but you got to listen. And that’s not so common.
So if you feel anxious because you’re going into a sales presentation or a sales meeting, I’m sorry and you don’t have a presentation ready, you don’t have your pitch ready. You don’t have all the answers yet, that’s okay. I get people all the time who say, “Joe, I have an appointment with X,Y,Z company. What do you think I should offer them?”
And my answer is always the same. “How would I know? And how should you know ahead of time?” You don’t know what to offer them until you go in and meet with them and ask questions and find out where they’re at and where do they want to go, and how big is that gap and can you do something to help them close or narrow that gap or bridge that gap that’s valuable, that they’d be willing to pay for.
So you first just go in in discovery mode which is to discover and find out more about them, where they’re at, how they’re spending their marketing dollars or how they’re doing X,Y,Z or how they’re currently tackling their software issues, if you’re selling software. Whatever it is, go in first asking good questions. Go into discovery mode and then when you go back home or you go back to the office you can start putting together a plan, a proposal, a presentation to go back to them, present your ideas and ask them if they’d like your help.
If you’re making sales more complicated than that, if you’re not adding value in that presentation then I would encourage you to slow down and realize down that it’s a people business and all you have to do is find out about the people and then be able to fill in the gaps and just be you.
Hopefully, this is helpful. Avoid the number one mistake people make where you’re offering solutions too quick and you’re prescribing before you diagnosis. Get a full diagnosis first. You would never go to a doctor and expect him to start prescribing to you, writing prescriptions when they haven’t even found out what’s causing you trouble or why you’re even there.