10 top sales slip-ups

Sales psychologist Dr. G. Clotaire Rapaille, whose firm consults for 50 of the top Fortune 100 companies, talks about the biggest mistakes salespeople make.
Not feeling the customer’s pain
Most people in sales get so caught up in their own needs – "I gotta make this sale!" – that they don’t listen to the customer’s pain. What discomfort is the potential buyer feeling?

During tough economic times, for example, people will buy luxury items like jewelry. Why? To make themselves feel better. Your product can help alleviate the customer’s pain, but only if you can figure out where it hurts.

Making money the goal
Money shouldn’t be the goal; it’s only a way of keeping score.

At the end of your life, you won’t care about being rich (there are no luggage racks on a hearse) but you will want to be known as the best in your field. Make that the goal, and the money will come.

Seeing sales as just a job
Selling should be your life – otherwise, you’re in the wrong business. After closing a deal, immediately start on the next one by inviting the customer to a barbecue.

There, you should be selling your neighbors and friends – even your wife and kids – on anything from the virtues of A-1 sauce to your latest business plan. Never stop selling

Getting upset
The greatest salespeople are always happy, even when doors are slamming in their faces. Strive to be a "happy loser." Rejection is actually inspiring because it allows the game to continue – and all true salespeople love the game.

Getting upset only tarnishes your image as a winner and ruins your chances of closing the sale later. When the customer says no, you say, "Great! That’s wonderful!" Then send a little gift.

Failing to prepare
Before making your pitch, you should know not only what the customer will say, but how you will respond.

My work with cultural archetypes is not easy to explain, but after 30 years of experience, I go into meetings knowing exactly what a prospect will say ("Prove that it works!") and how I will answer ("Here are my success stories"). Being surprised means you haven’t done your homework.

Preparing too much
Being prepared doesn’t mean following a script, which will make you seem wooden and dull.

Rehearse the sales call in your mind and imagine the various scenarios. When the big moment arrives, you will improvise naturally and instinctively, like a jazz musician navigating tricky chord changes.

Treating customers as adults
Every culture has its own character, and America is essentially adolescent. Too many salespeople believe we buy based on logic and intelligence. But deep down, we really want what teenagers want: extreme excitement and cuddly products.

The Mini Cooper is a good example. It’s so cute that many owners give their car a name and also join a social network of other Mini owners. BMW understands that these customers are basically adolescents.

Acting phony

The best salespeople are great actors – which doesn’t mean they are faking it. Rather, they are connecting to something inside that’s honest and true.

If you’re having trouble getting inspired selling facial cream, for example, imagine instead that you are helping women feel beautiful. Make it something you can believe in. If you feel like a phony during a sales pitch, you’re on the wrong track.

Neglecting the relationship
A guy tried to sell me life insurance recently. I told him I was covered, but he still sent me some cigars.

Later I gave him my business. Why? My cortex, the intellectual side of my brain, understood that he gave me the cigars as a sales ploy. But my limbic brain – my emotional side – was still influenced by the gift. I felt good about this guy.

Forgetting that we are all basically reptiles

The most important part of our brain is the reptilian side. These are the animal instincts of survival and reproduction.

Businessmen who bring clients to strip clubs are appealing to our reptilian side without even realizing it. But it’s not only sex that sells: Making small talk with customers about children or puppies will also accomplish this goal.

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1 Response to 10 top sales slip-ups

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