We have all heard the statement, “If you don’t learn from past mistakes, you are doomed to repeat them.” So let’s take a look at some common sales mistakes made by most producers at some time in their careers.

1. You sell price instead of value and solutions

Sooner or later, customers will want to know the price of what they buy. All too often you follow your prospects’ leads and talk prices. But prospects don’t buy price, they buy value and solutions. What good is the cheapest program if it fails to deliver on its promise? Very often what is perceived as a price objection is actually an absence of value or a request for more information. Price objections can be dealt with more effectively by postponing price talk until after you uncover the prospects’ issues and needs and have demonstrated the value of your proposals or programs. If prospects are informed of price too early, they can make instant judgments that can close their minds toward your ideas.

Related: Read another article by W. L. Richárd “Go Beyond the Numbers.”

When prospects perceive that the value of a proposal or program outweighs the risks, they will go ahead and make the purchase. Successful producers are able to paint a graphic picture of what is at stake, quantify the value and help prospects understand how they will feel when their needs are met or their problems are solved.

2. You are not qualifying your prospects

Ensure that your prospects need, want and can afford your program. Otherwise, you will be wasting your time.

Truly qualified prospects have five common traits:

  1. They have a need for your products or services and legitimately want to solve a problem, fill a gap or resolve an issue.
  2. They have the position, power, funds and legitimate authority to pay.
  3. They have a legitimate, self-defined sense of urgency to obtain your programs.
  4. They have some degree of trust in you, your product or service and your organization.
  5. They eagerly listen to you.

3. Not listening to what the prospect tells you

You are so busy thinking of what you are going to say next that you do not listen to the prospect. As a result, you miss valuable information that you could use to your advantage when describing the benefits of your program. All of your time should be focused on the prospect. You should be asking questions, clarifying points and above all, listening. A good rule of thumb is to listen 70 percent of the time and talk 30 percent of the time.

4. You are not building agency or individual credibility

You are so focused on your own opinion that you are not using any third-party testimonials or references. You are not talking about real-life case studies with existing or previous clients that the prospect can relate to. You need to be trusted and liked, so position yourself as the “go to” agency, an agency and a person that can be trusted.

Most of the time when producers discuss how to “separate themselves from the competition” the discussions are centered on opening value statements or USPs (unique selling propositions).

Related: Read the article “Sell to the 4 Basic Personality Types” by Richard Dunnam.

No doubt that is important; however, if you really want to separate yourself from the competition to where prospects are willing to take your call, or even better, calling you and asking for help, position yourself as the industry expert.

Knowing your product inside and out is important, but that is just table stakes. You can recommend and share information, but the prospect will always know that you have a vested interest in selling your proposal to them.

Often this will lead to the prospect needing to “shop around” and gather additional information/quotes. The prospect will then ponder the decision, leaving your deal to what seems to be nothing more than a coin flip with your commission check hanging in the balance.

What we’ve found to be more useful than product knowledge is allowing prospects to come to the determination on their own that you are the industry expert; that you understand their business pains, issues, challenges and that you walk and talk like they do. You speak their same language because you understand what it’s like to be in their shoes. You are on their team and you are committed to solving problems on their behalf.

5. You are not getting enough of your calls returned

Do you leave a lot of phone messages? Do you find that they are not being returned? What would your sales figures be if an additional 30 percent of your calls were returned? Think about the messages that you are leaving and make sure that they compel the prospect to call you back.

6. You are not improving your own sales skills

When was the last time you listened to a sales tape or DVD or attended a sales training course or had sales coaching? How do you expect to improve if you don’t get additional training? Would you go to a surgeon that failed to keep his knowledge or skills at the top of his game? If you were the prospect, would you do business with anyone whose knowledge and skills were out of date?

7. You are not getting through to the decision maker

Are you dealing with someone who is either a decision maker or a person who can get the decision made for you?

Related: Read the article by Jack Burke “What Animals Teach.”

So you’ve just had a great presentation. The prospect says it was terrific and now they say, “My boss is making the decision as to whom we select.”

Whenever possible, make sure that your contact is the decision maker. If your contact has no knowledge, access or influence relating to your proposal or program, you need to find a way to get this person to help you connect with someone else in the organization. Your aim is to identify who in the organization is likely to be able to help you get this deal done—and to determine with some certainty whether your contact falls into that category.

If not sure about the decision making, ask the prospect to explain to you how decisions are made. Sometimes it takes more than one solicitation. Keep in mind; if the decision maker is not present at the first meeting, they may already have someone else in mind for the business anyhow.

8. You are selling the same as other salespeople

You need to be unique in your delivery and the way that you stress the value and benefits of your proposal or program. What will make you different from the other salespeople your prospect has just had in his or her office? Are you boring your prospect to death? Stand out from the pack. Become a leading expert in your field. Then use social media to help spread the word and just watch what happens next.

9. You are not enjoying what you do

If you do not still get that buzz, then it is a warning signal to either shape up or ship out.