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Andy Rich | BizDev3.0 | Philadelphia, PA

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It’s already the second quarter; is it too late to discuss sales mistakes to avoid in 2017?  Or lessons learned in 2016?  It matters not what month or year it is, for some sales lessons are timeless, and furthermore, we need to revisit them on a regular basis.

Here are my top four lessons from last year:

1. No more Think-It-Over’s (TIOs). 

I’d rather get a NO than a THINK-IT-OVER.  It’s embarrassing to admit that in early 2016, I found myself allowing TIOs.  That’s BAD since I teach people how to ELIMINATE TIO’s!  So, I declared a “sixty-day war on TIO’s.”  For 60 days, I journaled my sales activities and my progress in the war. 

Here’s a sample of my journal entries: 

“Day 22 of my sixty-day war on Decision Deficit Disorder (DDD) – Yesterday, there was collateral damage.  A small business owner called me and said that she wanted to get together to see if I could help her sales process.  Her biggest problem – handing out lots of design plans and quotes to homeowners who then tell her they need to think–it-over.  So, I suggested that she be prepared to make a yes/no decision at our meeting.  She said she just wanted information so that she could think-it-over.  Told her if she could not make a buying decision at our meeting, then we could never fix her problem with prospects.  She canceled our meeting.” 

As I journaled through the war, I got better and better at recognizing all the clever ways people DELAY in the sales process.  I also realized (again) that when people are afraid to make a decision, it doesn’t help matters for me to allow them to TIO. 

Lesson relearned: When you give your best presentation, and all you get is a TIO, be gutsy enough to CLOSE THE FILE and tell your prospect, politely, “It’s over.”

2. Stay out of the prospect’s system. 

Prospects have a well-defined system for shopping.  They MISLEAD the salesperson, gather as much free information and consulting as possible, DELAY with some form of TIO, and then go into hiding.  As soon as I give away my valuable product/company/service information without a firm commitment as to what I’ll get in return, I’m in the prospect’s system. Once I do that, I’ve lost control, and my chance of getting a sale is close to zero. 

Lesson relearned:  Stay in control.  Sales should be an honest, mature, adult-to-adult interaction.  For it to be that, I must stay in MY system, not the prospect’s.

3. Sales success is all about behaviors and activities. 

Nothing new there.  It’s just that most of us in sales tend to get lazy on our prospecting activities as soon as we make a few good sales.  Once we stop prospecting, the pipeline empties quickly, and the commissions dry up.  Do you have a COOKBOOK of required daily/weekly sales activities?  Do you do what you need to do to be successful?  Or do you endlessly check your e-mail and rearrange things on your desk? 

Lesson relearned:  Sales success is greatly dependent on executing the right sales behaviors every day.

4. Confront Your Fears. 

The one thing that holds most salespeople back, more than anything else, is FEAR.  Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of not making any money, fear of hearing “No,” fear of not being liked; the list goes on and on.  I relearned that if I don’t face my fears head on, and deal with them, they’ll paralyze me!  It helps me to remember that I’ve learned my best sales lessons in my biggest failures, that’s the consolation prize for getting a “No.” 

Lesson relearned:  It’s OK to be scared; it’s not OK to let that paralyze me.

What were your lessons learned from last year, and how have you changed your behavior this year as a result? Please share in the comment area below.


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