Sales is a game of slim margins. That’s what makes our field the most thrilling field in the world.
You walk a razor-thin edge between hearing “Yes, Tuesday at 10 sounds good” and “No thanks, not interested.”
And the margin for error isn’t any more forgiving in the deal-making stage. Do all the right things and you might close the deal. But 95% often isn’t good enough.
Those margins matter. As Al Pacino’s character famously said in the film Any Given Sunday, “Life is a game of inches…” So too is sales. Sales is a game of inches that you can’t afford to lose.
Thankfully, if you’re anything like me — you’ll hustle hard for those inches, those margins.
First, that means eliminating the self-sabotaging mistakes that kill deals. Second, it means doing more of what is proven and repeatable to work so that you WIN in this game… not just today, not just this week, month, or quarter… but for LIFE.
Easy enough, right?
Well today I’m laying out a crystal clear plan so that you finally stop getting stuck. Let’s jump right in.
1. Not Dialing All Day Every Day
This is for SDRs in particular. Just pick up the phone and don’t put it down. You do have an auto-dialer, right? One of the biggest mistakes I see in sales is SDRs who procrastinate by doing everything but making cold calls. When they finally do pick up the phone, they’re prolific for 2-3 hours, and then nothing for the rest of the day. Dial all day, every day, and see where it takes you. Your life will be transformed.
Tip: Set yourself a micro-goal each morning to just make one call. Sounds crazy, but that one call is EASY to make, and it will naturally lead to two calls, 10 calls, 50 calls, 100 calls, and more. Just start!
2. Not Qualifying Prospects
Ever waste your time talking to unqualified prospects that would never convert (could never convert!) to a customer? You’re not alone. Marketing pushes through unqualified leads to sales — or worse, the SDR or AE books time with someone who doesn’t have the budget, authority, need, or right-timing for your product. You have to qualify your prospect before you start investing time and resources on them. Turns out that millions of hours are wasted yearly by getting deep into the sales process with tire-kickers. Weed these guys out early on and you’ll save money and deals. Don’t fall for this trap!
Tip: Stick to the acronym B.A.N.T. for qualifying prospects. To meet these requirements, your prospect must have the Budget to buy, the Authority to make a buying decision, the Need for your product or service, and the Timing has to make sense.
3. Not Selling Value
Most salespeople tend to focus on the features of their product. But you need to focus instead on the value that derives from those features. So your custom software has a built-in CRM that organizes data. So what? That’s the feature. To sell the value here, play up the 100+ hours that your prospect will suddenly get back this quarter — and all the things they could be doing with that valuable time instead of wrestling data. It’s a common sales mistake to focus on anything other than value and transformation.
Tip: Go through each of the features your product/service offers, and tie a specific and tangible value to them. Now memorize these concepts and appeal to them when speaking with prospects. Features are fine to mention and discuss, but the real buy-in comes when you sell the value.
4. Not Having a Killer Closing Mindset
Look, I’m not talking about “always be closing” or any of that. But you should go into every sales meeting with the intent to close the deal. I understand this isn’t always possible — but on the flip side of the coin, my hunch is that the typical B2B sales cycle is now 3+ months long (too long!) because closers are afraid to close.
This isn’t about aggression. Trust me, there are ways to close without being pushy. It’s just a mentality shift that needs to happen. You can, in fact, open a relationship and close a deal on the same day. Sales doesn’t have to be ALL about relationship building. Focus too much on the relationship only, and you’ll never close anything. You’re not there to be your prospect’s best friend. You’re there to get deals done.
Tip: Start a pre-sales-meeting ritual where you take deep breaths and repeat positive affirmations. One of the affirmations should be “I will close this deal today. I will close this deal today. I will close this deal today.” Then you’ll be more mentally and physiologically prepared to get ink on paper. Of course, never close at the expense of a relationship. But these two are not mutually exclusive. You can, and should, aim for both.
5. Not Following Up
OK – didn’t make the sale? Or have a potentially interested prospect in the pipeline? The common mistake here is not following up and letting the prospect go cold. This is seriously low-hanging fruit that’s ripe and ready. Put a solid follow-up strategy in place and you’ll start seeing deals closing almost out of thin air. Of course, you have to put in the work, but it’s easier to convert a prospect who’s heard of your name and company than it is a completely cold lead.
Tip: Remember to go with a multichannel follow-up approach. Just because you first reached your prospect via cold call doesn’t mean you can’t reach out via email, LinkedIn, and other methods. And vice-versa. Switch it up, and most of all, meet them where they’re at.
Other Sales Mistakes Include:
- Not building genuine relationships
- Not showing up to the meeting prepared
- Not listening
- Not asking for the sale
- Not identifying pain points
- Not failing forward
So those are the most common sales mistakes that I see both rookie and seasoned sales veterans make. Chances are that you struggle with at least 2-3 from the list above. Shore up these weaknesses and you’ll be closing more deals.
If you had to focus on just one or two, though, I’d say go with #1 and #3. That is, dial all day every day and sell value not features. From there it’s just a matter of making incremental improvements over time, and never giving up. But look — you’ve made it this far — you’re not the type to give up. Let’s make it happen.
Until next time…