Despite the massive effort required to succeed, sales is a bit of a mental game. Not only do you have to deal with various, oftentimes complex personalities when selling, you also have to maintain a positive mindset despite daunting obstacles and unpleasant distractions that regularly pull you in other directions.
This means that mastery over yourself must always come first, before you start worrying about the leads, the pricing, or the market. And before you convince somebody to buy from you, you have to convince yourself they should want to.
The first obstacles you must overcome, then, are the obstacles you’re putting up. The best example of this self-destructive behavior is the salesperson who (inadvertently) talks themselves out of deals.
Here are six common ways salespeople self-sabotage their deals:
1. Lack of enthusiasm
The famous Zig Zigler once said, “For every sale you miss because you’re too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you’re not enthusiastic enough.” If you engage the prospect with a monotone, uninspired approach, you’ll probably leave them feeling worse than you found them, which usually doesn’t bode well for any potential deal. Do whatever you have to do to get yourself excited for the call, whether it’s listening to your favorite music, doing jumping jacks, or thinking about your goals. If you don’t show up with some enthusiasm, how can you possibly expect the prospect to have any?
2. Talking too much
Many of us have a tendency to talk more than we listen, whether it’s out of habit, nervousness, or an aversion to what we consider awkward silence. Unfortunately, talking more than you listen is an excellent way to alienate your prospect, and to blow an opportunity to learn about their needs. If there’s one skill a salesperson needs to possess, it’s the ability to calm their mind, slow things down, and listen to the other person, not just to hear, but to understand. Do what you have to do to develop this skill: practice listening to your family, friends, even your pet. If you learn how to stop talking so much, your results will show why it’s such an important thing to do.
3. Making assumptions
Oftentimes, we make assumptions without realizing it, but when selling, you should never automatically assume a deal won’t work out, no matter your initial impressions. This is why qualifying prospects is so important; no matter what you might think at first, it’s quite possible (and likely) that you won’t have the full picture until you ask the right questions. So even if a lead comes in and there appears to be something that’s clearly disqualifying, it’s still worth having a conversation to confirm the information and to make sure you’re not assuming too much.
4. Being short-sighted
Sometimes, it can be difficult to see past one’s nose, and when you’re in the thick of your day, it’s easy to forget about the big picture. Sales results are measured in months and quarters, but that doesn’t mean we should only think about the next few weeks. If you’re not hitting your numbers, don’t assume that it’s all over for you, because it’s not. Careers span decades, and while you do need to perform, sometimes it helps to take a step back and understand that what happened this month or quarter is part of a larger narrative, and not the only thing that matters. Ironically, it’s only when you start looking at the big picture that everything begins to come into focus.
5. Talking past the close
This is a common and avoidable mistake that too many salespeople still make. Talking past the close is when a prospect has agreed to move forward, but you refuse to stop dumping information on them. The reason why doing this is a bad idea is because you can only cause harm, since the deal has already been agreed to. While uncommon, there’s always a possibility that you will say something which will cause the prospect to back out, or your continuous information dumping will scare them off. In any case, once the prospect agrees to move forward, your job is to outline the next steps, not to keep trying to convince them they made the right decision.
6. Not seeing the value
If you don’t see the value in your product, how can you possibly expect the prospect to see it? This is a complicated problem, because some salespeople are unable to convince themselves that what they’re selling is valuable. Unfortunately, the only two solutions are to either will yourself to believe in the product, or to sell something else. With few exceptions, most people can’t buy into something they don’t believe in, so if you don’t think your product solves a problem, or don’t think it’s worth the price, you’d be doing yourself a favor by moving on, and selling something that’s a better fit. Otherwise, you’ll keep talking yourself out of deals.