All of us are selling. Some of us just don’t know it. This is especially true for people in the L&D fraternity who look at selling with disdain. Amazingly even some sales trainers have the same attitude.
However, for those of us who bring home the bacon based on how we sell i.e. Sales Professionals / entrepreneurs etc. , we need to have well-honed skills.
In my opinion, these are the 4 massive mistakes that sales professionals commit. I should know since I started my career in sales and marketing and I and my team struggled with these issues many times.
- Promising the moon: Sales professionals want the sale, badly. This often results in “promising the moon”. Commitments that they will need to bend backwards to fulfill, if at all they can do so. This leads to a loss of credibility and frankly is really not required. A client will definitely respect someone who levels with him/her more than someone who overpromises and under delivers. A particular instance comes to mind, when I was selling NDTV Headlines and Surkhiyan on Doordarshan 2, a client requested for credit lines which my team members eagerly agreed to provide. In fact that was a big mistake. Because of the 2-3 sec credit line we lost a 15-30 sec advertisement spot. We would have been better off giving them a discount. One reason for this tendency in sales people is that they do not calculate the cost of over-commitments. When my team realized the cost of their commitment they were contrite.
- Selective Listening: They do not carefully hear what the client needs and wants. They especially do not focus on reading between the lines. They do not probe to understand why the client wants what he/she wants. Therefore, their solution may not solve the problem the client is trying to solve. Big problem and an easily corrected one.
- Overlooking profit margin: At the end of the day no matter how much you sell and what percentage of market-share you have, a company needs profits. When I joined New Delhi Television (NDTV) straight from campus, I was privileged to have an induction with Dr Pranoy Roy himself. I was a big fan so I hung on each word. He explained the market, the competitive scenario etc. But what really caught my attention and did not leave it was his advice to “Learn to smile and ask for your money.” He explained that while he needed us to sell, he also needed us to collect the cheques. Most sales people act oblivious to the importance of profit margins. They give deep discounts to get sales. And companies perpetuate this by giving bonuses and commissions based on sales and not profit margins. I have personally seen sales professionals give in way too soon, rather than stand their ground and reiterate benefits.
- Cookie Cutter Approach: Treating all customers the same. Giving the same information in the same manner is a massive waste. People are different and react differently to stimuli. DISC is a useful way of looking at people. DISC determines your natural behavioral style, what motivates you, what demotivates us, your emotional need etc. Your DISC style impacts almost every area of your life including how you sell and how you like to be sold to. The understanding can be used to influence clients by speaking to them in a manner they can understand. You give the D Style client the bottom-line, the I style client a beautiful, very visual presentation, the S style client a reassurance and information on where all the same solution has been implemented successfully, and an C Style client a detailed presentation with lots of reading material for them to go over. I can personally vouch for how much DISC helped me in my sales and marketing career.
By the way, it is still helping me since I still have to deal with people as a trainer, facilitator, psychometric assessor, entrepreneur and not least a mother.
Contributed by Lovely Kumar, Chief-Projects, Larks Learning Pvt. Ltd.