by Tim Jahn on May 2, 2012
This is a guest post from Neil Patel, who is the co-founder of two Internet companies: Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics. Through his entrepreneurial career, he has helped companies such as Amazon, eBay, Expedia, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, and Walmart make more money from the web.
Do you want to get good at sales? Because if you do, there is a lot of money to be made. But I need to first teach you what not to do. If you want to make money through selling, you don’t have to be a great salesperson, you just need to avoid these common mistakes:
Don’t forget to qualify
Before you can sell, you have to find someone to sell to. Whether it’s someone coming to you or finding someone to sell to, you have qualify your potential customer. If you forget to do the qualifying step, a large percentage of your time will be wasted on potential customers who don’t really need or can’t afford your offering.
Every opportunity isn’t equal. Through qualifying, you’ll get a better understanding of what each customer wants, when they want it by, what their budget is, and if you’re talking to the person who can actually make the decision. If you aren’t sure how to qualify people, ask them simple questions: What are you looking for specifically? What’s your budget? When are you looking to start?
Don’t be a “yes” man
When a potential customer makes a request, you’re naturally going to want to say “yes.” And once you say “yes” a few times, you’ll realize you’re walking on a slippery slope — the customer will keep making requests, and each one will not only cost you money, but it will let the customer know that they can be demanding and walk all over you.
If you can do what a customer wants and it is profitable for you, say yes. If the request is unreasonable, say no. By setting this precedent early on, you’ll have more happy customers.
Don’t offer too much information
Learn to get your message out in a quick and concise way, as it will be easier to understand. Trying to look smart by using sophisticated language or talking in technical jargon is just dumb!
When pitching customers, make sure you only tell them what they need and want to know. I’ve found that when you tell them more than they want to know by trying to throw in something that’s mind blowing, you’ll only sometimes increase the likelihood of closing the deal. But in most cases, you’ll just bore them to death. People have short attention spans, so be careful about dragging things on.
Don’t over sell
Think of sales like dating — if you reek of desperation, no one will be attracted to you. Be casual with your sales techniques and act like you don’t care. At the end of the day, if your product or service is that good, the person you are selling to should be privileged to use it!
However, creating a sense of urgency can help close the deal without it seeming like you’re overselling. For example, when I had a consulting company, I would always give potential prospects tight deadlines to decide. When using this tactic, my close ratio went up by over 50 percent. But at the same time, don’t use this unless it’s true, as lying to potential customers is a bad way to start a working relationship.
Don’t lose sight of the goal
You’re in sales meetings to make sales, right? So why would you waste your time chatting about random topics with a potential customer? You don’t have people’s undivided attention forever, so make sure you are keeping track of time and you get your message across as quick as possible. If you have spare time after that, you can chat about common interests to help build a stronger connection, but you shouldn’t do that until you get all of your major points across and have the person on the hook.
Don’t delay your sales
If your product or service isn’t ready, you’ll have a tendency to not sell until it’s ready. You can’t predict when things are going to be ready and, chances are, there will be delays.
Why not start selling now? You don’t have to deliver your product or service right now; you can give them access in the future. And by having them sign up now, offer a discount to entice them. What I like doing is to close the sale ahead of time and tell companies how there is a 30 to 60-day implementation time frame, as this buys me time. This works really well in a service-oriented business.
Don’t talk past the sell
After you close a deal, stop talking. I’ve seen people lose deals because they keep talking after the potential customer is ready to convert. They say something stupid, making that person think twice. Learn to keep your mouth shut after someone tells you they want to be a customer. If you can’t, chat about random, neutral subjects.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.
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