Are you working on honing your business to business sales skills? Are you new to B2B sales and looking for some advice? Whether you’re new or well-seasoned, join us as we talk about some common B2B sales pitfalls and how you can avoid them.
Hey everyone, I’m Ian Campbell, CEO of Mission Suite. Before we jump into today’s video, do me a favor and hit the subscribe button and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos.
When the pressure is on, we’ve all probably made some mistakes and missteps. And, while this isn’t fatal, if we can talk about these sales pitfalls and help someone else from making these mistakes, we can all get better at what we do. Today we’re going to tackle some common sales pitfalls and how to avoid them.
We’ll start with one of the most common challenges and talk about how to avoid those missteps to make your pitch and meetings even better.
Our first sales pitfall is so common…
Talking More Than Listening
…And that is talking more than you listen.
I get it – we’ve all been there, you’re excited or nervous, and you have practiced your pitch, and you’re just bursting to start (and keep) talking. But know this – the more you talk, the less you’re listening and learning about your client, prospect, or lead.
My advice? Shut up. Just shut up. Say it to yourself if you head if you need to, but just shut up. Normalize shutting up. Be quiet, stop talking, whatever you need to say to stop talking. If you ask a question, know that there could be a few seconds of silence while the other person considers their answer – this is normal. Have a little patience and get ready to listen.
So, ‘shut up’ is lesson one. Easy, right? And lesson two is almost as easy: listen. While you’re shutting up, just listen. Some of the most excellent sales people I’ve known have been great listeners, and this is a skill we should all be working on all the time.
How do you listen? I’ve got some dos and don’ts of listening:
- Do pay attention; you’ll learn plenty if you just listen. If your client or prospect is willing to take the time to answer your question, you have to listen and absorb what they are saying.
- Don’t just be thinking about what you’re going to say next while the other person is talking. I get it, you’re anxious to pitch and sell and talk about how great you are, but temper that excitement and listen. What they are saying to you could change what you say next.
- Do make notes. And make sure you are entering them in your C R M. This can be very handy later as you are working to meet the needs of this client. And being able to recall what a lead or client has told you is one of the best ways to build trust in your relationship.
- Don’t judge. Anything a prospect or client tells you should only be used to help you tailor your services and pitch. If they tell you they have a budget well below what you need, don’t judge them for that. Just be glad you’ve found out what their budget is.
- Do repeat back what you’ve heard if you’re unclear. If you’re going to the trouble of shutting up and listening, make sure you’re hearing your lead correctly.
- Don’t stop asking. As long as you have a prospect willing to give you information, you should keep asking. Think about how many times you had a lead that withheld information or was vague in their details, or just wasn’t open. If you have someone willing to answer, you can put that in the “w” column for now.
- Cookie Cutter Sales Pitch
If you’re fortunate enough to get a pitch meeting, don’t waste that chance with a ho-hum pitch. Take the time to research the company you’re pitching and tailor it to their specific needs. We’ll talk more about research in a bit but walking into a pitch meeting without a tailored appeal is a mistake.
First, no one cares about your company. It’s not about you – it’s about them. They care about how your company – and companies like yours – can solve problems and ease their challenges. They don’t care about your flashy business cards or your generic pitch. Your pitch should clearly show that you know who you’re talking to, and you’ve spent time thinking about their needs and how your solutions can best meet those needs.
Second, by preparing a custom pitch, you are signaling your commitment to do business with this company – not just any company. To me, a generic pitch says that you are possibly more concerned with the quantity of leads rather than quality. Show your prospects that you’ve learned about them, and you want to be a partner, not just a salesperson.
As you are researching to tailor your pitch, you will, without a doubt, uncover helpful information. What if you found a challenge or hurdle they might not even know about? Pointing this out – tactfully – and offering a solution can be a key to winning that business. Similarly, you might also learn something that indicates that your companies aren’t a great fit.
Not only should your pitch be tailored to the company you’re talking to, but you should also customize this pitch to land with WHO you are talking to. There should be customization since talking to the CFO differs from talking to a manager. Know who you are talking to and make it relevant for them. Once you know who will be there, you can further tailor your pitch.
Not Understanding the Clients Business or Needs
Obviously, if your prospect is willing to meet and listen to your pitch, it is because they have needs – find out what those needs are within the context of their business. You owe it to them and your company to research and deliver a pitch that responds to those needs. Otherwise, your pitch is not going to land. And what is the point of that?
Step one in creating any pitch should be researching the company and then listing your prospects’ pain points. Yes, eventually, you can also detail how you can ease those pain points. Work on your empathy and show that you really do understand. Work on being a partner, not just a salesperson. When businesses face challenges, they will look for partners, not just companies willing to sell them stuff.
Your well-thought-out pitch should include some relevant case studies, too. If you can demonstrate that you solved similar or exact challenges for others, this will build confidence and show that you understand.
Next, you need to understand their needs and wants; do they want to collaborate with a small company or a big one? Do they have past experiences that will dictate who they partner with in the future? These questions might seem of secondary importance, but if you can learn these things, you’ll put yourself ahead of your competition.
You cannot fake this, so do the work and set yourself up for success. Knowing a client’s business will also put you on a path to building rapport. Don’t just dive right into your pitch necessarily; take time to show that you understand, show off what you’ve learned, ask questions about their vision, and get to know those to whom you’re talking.
Lying That You Know Clients Business
As we’ve discussed, straying from the truth is never the answer and is a damaging sales pitfall for your character. Overselling and embellishing are no way to build trust or a healthy working relationship. There is just nothing to be gained instead of lying. Even if you think ‘it’s just a harmless lie’ or ‘I can fix this down the road,’ the answer is NO. Lying about your clients’ business is almost always guaranteed to backfire. Just don’t do it. And, if you have done it and it worked out, it can still backfire. Just don’t do it. It’s that simple.
Instead, do the work. Get to know your company and your clients so you can forge a real relationship. There is just no reason not to do this. If you can get educated and ask intelligent questions, you are also saying that you are invested and willing to be a partner.
If you need some pointers to start your research, a quick Google search can be a great place to start. You might also want to study their social media accounts too. You could learn a lot about your client by watching how they interact on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google. Read some of their customer reviews, too, if you can. Of course, take a review with a grain of salt because you won’t have context, but you’ll know how others perceive them. This is almost as good as actually talking to clients.
And while you’re researching and keeping notes, don’t forget to include what you’ve learned in your CRM. The info you collect will be helpful down the road as you start to segment your lists. The more information, the better!
Some other types of “untruths” we should address include overpromising.
Overpromising and under-delivering
Overpromising and under-delivering is the best way to shorten a client relationship, a huge sales pitfall. If you are pressed in a pitch or meeting, resist the urge to over-promise what your product or service can do. Your client or prospect might ask you about how you measure up against the competition or ask about how you would handle this or that. You’ll never win by overpromising. Your go-to if you feel like you’re backed in a corner is to say, “I don’t know, but I will research that and get back to you.” Then, of course, you have to follow up, but at least you haven’t painted yourself into a corner that you can’t get out of.
Speaking of your competition, if you find your client pressing you on a point where you don’t measure up, you should just admit it. Although, if you’ve done your research, you shouldn’t be surprised. Turn this into an opportunity to point out where you do outshine your competitors. More good news: if your client or prospect is adamant about this point, this could be a sign that it is not an excellent fit for either of you. Not a direct win, but you’ll never fit a square peg in a round hole, and it is better to know now.
Promise what you know you can deliver and commit to that. A client would rather have you over-deliver than over promise. And you’ll never be able to build a successful relationship by overpromising.
After the meeting is over, if you feel like there is something you forgot, or you want to reach out again, you can. Of course, your CRM should already be working on a follow-up. For example, with Mission Suite, you can set a series of follow-ups and include personalized notes. If you are using your CRM, the end of the pitch is not the end; it’s just the beginning.
Another sales pitfall and a bad habit to break is overselling. Overselling is when a salesperson continues to pitch despite having a “yes” from your client or lead. And this is a great way to annoy your lead and possibly lose the deal. Imagine the pitch as a marathon. A marathon ends at precisely 26.2 miles. You don’t get more medals if you keep running past that. Once you hit your 26.2, you need to stop. And once you have a ‘yes,’ you can stop the pitch.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t upsell down the road, but for now, stop where you are before you end up going too far. You trained, you ran, and now you’re done.
While it is unlikely you’ll get a “yes” in the moment, you should learn to get a sense of when and where to stop.
For example: if your pitch has done the following:
- Introduced yourself and your company and why you are the best choice
- Illustrated how you can solve problems, ease pain points, and best serve their needs
- Answered all of their questions
- Explicitly stated that you want to work with this company and why
- Asked for the business
If you continue to ‘sell,’ you’re much more likely to start down the path of over-promising, restating points you’ve already made and making other mistakes. This could also start to be counterproductive, and you risk losing this deal. All of this isn’t good but can be avoided with mindfulness and some practice.
That will just about do it for common sales pitfalls and how to avoid them. I hope you found this helpful. And if you have any questions about anything you heard today, please reach out to us at Mission Suite, and we’d be happy to tell you more!
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Want to learn more about sales? Check out our article, Why You Should Be Using Sales Enablement Software.