Life in sales can be stressful, but closing deals can make that stress worth it. A big commission check can put things in perspective, especially if you’ve been working hard to get it. This is why it’s important to make the absolute best use of your time at work and to not let small things get in your way.
There are so many moving parts in sales that it can be difficult to remember what to focus on at any given moment. The salespeople who succeed are the ones who are able to focus in a way that maximizes their activity and strengths.
We’ve put together a list of seven common smaller things that might be costing you deals. If any of these apply to you, it’s time to refocus your efforts in hopes of improving your close rate.
The assumptions we make about people and about their needs can affect our success in sales more than we might think. Never pre-judge a prospect before you’ve gone through the qualification process, and never assume that you have a deal in the bag even if you’re competing against an inferior rival. Like Mark Twain said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
2. Lack of a written plan
There are far fewer salespeople who prepare for sales meetings with a written plan than those who don’t. For whatever reason, we love to wing it. But this is exactly what you shouldn’t be doing. Having an outline of what you hope to cover during a call is always better than trying to improv your way to a deal. Set aside time before every sales call or meeting to do some prep work and you’ll see it pay dividends in your commission checks.
Technology developers and media companies have devised ingenious ways to pull our attention in a hundred different directions, so it’s harder than ever to stay focused for prolonged periods of time. But there’s no better way to maximize your time than to teach yourself to concentrate on important tasks every day. Sure, you can probably hit your commission goal while multitasking and giving in to distractions, but you’ll never achieve as much as you could have otherwise.
Unless you’re one of those rare people who’s naturally enthusiastic 24 hours a day, you’ll need to actively develop your enthusiasm before calls and sales meetings. Some people pump themselves up with music, others by doing push-ups or thinking about their goals. Whatever works for you, just make sure you do it. Nothing makes as big of an impact on the way a prospect perceives your message than the enthusiasm with which you deliver it.
5. Your health
It can be difficult to find a direct correlation between how well you take care of yourself and your sales performance. But whether or not you acknowledge it, it’s there. Keeping yourself healthy leads to more energy, better mood, less sick days, and better stamina. No one can dispute that these things benefit a salesperson. So even if you don’t want to get healthy for your own well-being, do it for your sales numbers.
6. A commonly requested feature
If practically every prospect is asking for a certain feature or product detail that you don’t offer, it might be the reason you’re losing deals. Patterns aren’t always easy to notice, but in business, they usually exist. It might be something that feels small and inconsequential to you, but you should never overlook consistent requests. They often point to a larger market trend. Take notes, and then take it to management or to your product team.
One of the toughest, but most important, things salespeople need to learn to do is to change their approach depending on who they’re selling to. This doesn’t mean you need to pretend to be someone you’re not, which will likely backfire on you. It just means that if something isn’t working and the prospect isn’t seeing the value in what you presented, then you need to change your approach and present things in a different way. Different people will have different motivations, and sometimes you need to experiment in order to discover what those motivations are. So before you give up, don’t forget to try something new.