Top-Shelf Tip No. 55:

"Most people think selling is the same as talking. But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job."

Roy Bartell

Three Errors That Can Cost A Sale

When you pause and consider it, selling has a lot in common with baseball. Both are team sports that can hinge on a solo exceptional effort. Sometimes they move slower than you'd like. Both require pitches. And when it comes to baseball and B2B sales, both a game and a deal can be lost through an unforced error. It could be a wild pitch or a defensive blunder that puts you out of the running without any opponent interference.

LinkedIn writer Sean Callahan recently shared a piece discussing the three types of unforced errors that can cost a rep a sale. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we explore his thoughts on the three unforced errors that can sink B2B sales.

Error 1: Lack of planning. Callahan says back in the old days, a sales rep could open a meeting with, "So, tell me about your company and what you need." The rep could then rely on people skills and charisma to get the prospect talking and go from there. However, salespeople shouldn't go into meetings cold anymore. Clients expect you to have done your due diligence on social media to get to know the company and its needs. Organization and planning should be an integral part of your job. If you don't properly plan, you're in reactive mode which will cause you to lose deals or not have any to pursue in the first place.

Error 2: Botched execution. Planning is only as useful as the follow-through that comes after it. Once you earn valuable face-to-face time with a prospect, don't let sloppy execution derail the encounter. Selling is comprised of conversations and commitments, and if you fail to create real, differentiated value, your prospect will look somewhere else. Callahan says to keep your execution on point, you must combine communication and presentation skills with your natural selling ability. Take good notes, keep your energy level up, make your presentation lively and compelling, and sharpen your negotiation skills.

Error 3: Inflexible strategy. Sales strategy is a broad category but one that presents the greatest opportunity for improvement. This can include the way you approach the prospect, how well you assess competitor threats, and how well you evaluate the prospect's changing needs and moods. When you fail to match your strategy to the situation, you make the error of ignoring context and stubbornly sticking to an unrealistic approach.

Sales reps encounter many challenges with B2B sales. Be sure you don't lose a sale because of an unforced error.

Source: Sean Callahan is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience. He works on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions content team, contributes to the LMS blog and writes guides to help B2B marketers do their jobs better. Callahan co-authored the book The Big Data-Driven Business: How to Use Big Data to Win Customers, Beat Competitors and Boost Profits . He has also contributed to The New York Times, SportsIllustrated.com, Salon.com, Notre Dame Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Washington Post.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

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