The Seven Deadly Sins of Sales

All companies need to increase sales and improve their performance on a continuing basis if they are to survive. Most companies lose between 10-20% of their customers per year due to bankruptcies, mergers and simply because the customer stops buying. Studies show that 66% of companies consider that sales and marketing are the key issues for their business right now. But they are less likely to do something about it than cutting costs.

Here are the 7 deadly sins – mistakes that many companies make in trying to improve their performance.

  • “Get out and do more sales calls.”
    This is the normal reaction of most sales managers. When their teams are not performing well they will require redoubling of efforts in either sales visits or telephone calls. But doing more of the same thing will necessarily get more of the same result: below target performance. A review of their target customers, messages and better understanding of benefits is more likely to achieve results required. They need to work smarter not harder.
  • Discounting.
    Discounting is an invidious way to get more sales. And most times it will not work. Yet many sales people will resort to this as a way of closing and trying to increase sales. It is easy for the lazy sales person and it is frequently a panic measure bought about by the first deadly sin. If you have not correctly positioned your product no amount of discounting your product or service will persuade your customer that it is even better value for money more likely they will think it is too CHEAP and therefore not good value for money. In surveys of B2B selling price normally comes in at 4 or 5 in the list of buying criteria.
  • Do not train you sales staff – ever!
    The average number of days spent training sales people in the
    UKis 1 day per year! In the US it is more like 2 days per month. And the results show. To become top performers sales teams need to be trained on technique, process and the benefits of the products again and again. Many companies consider the training budget to be a cost but they should look at it as an investment.
  • Don’t target customers.
    Allow your sales people to do what they like, go where they like, to get orders. The result will be an increasing number of low value customers that will not contribute significantly to your bottom line. Your costs will increase as sales people will travel anywhere to get orders no matter what the value of those orders and your competitors will grab the biggest and best customers.
  • Don’t set your targets for your sales team
    By not setting targets your sales team will not know what is expected of them, not know which customers to target and the sales manager will find it difficult to motivate them to a better performance. Sales people who are not comfortable with targets are just that comfortable. They stay within their comfort zone and do not rock the boat. Generously, you could say they are order takes not professional sales people.
  • Don’t bother with all that ‘fluffy bunny’ motivation stuff!
    Selling is a tough occupation and motivation needs to be a regular part of the sales manager’s activities. Identifying what the right sort of motivation is for each of the sales team and then working on that will help turn average sales people into stars. But start with your own attitude. Attitudes are contagious –is yours worth catching?
  • Never, ever, ask for the order.
    More than 70% of sales people do NOT ask for the order! They may well qualify the prospect right, identify the benefits for that particular customer, do a fine presentation, answer all the objections but then do not complete the sale. Often fear of rejection is at the root of this issue. But by not asking for some form of commitment they are leaving the door open for the client to say “I’ll think about it.”