Listed below are the still-too-common mistakes made by sales reps that I work with around the world. This list can serve as a reminder for veteran sales reps and an initiation for new hires. Sales managers can cover this material in their next sales meeting then post it on the sales bullpen bulletin board for future reference.
THE TOP 10 BAD SALES TACTICS
10: Rep tries to be too friendly: I suggested that one of our new sales managers watch reruns of WKRP in Cincinnati. I told the sales manager to pay special attention to Herb Tarlek who was the back-slapping, glad-handing sales manager on the sitcom. Using humor in sales is not a problem, but acting like Herb is a problem. A rep needs to be a sustaining resource for the client instead of a friend.
9: Rep wants to sell their favorite product: Todays media rep has many different products available to sell. A rep needs to sell the customer a product that will work for the client. I often see a client being sold a product that is a favorite of the reps. The product may be the best seller for the company, but is it right for the customer?
8: Rep shows up without an appointment: One quick way to have a day filled with frustration is to drop in on prospects or customers unannounced. Reps often create shortcuts. They will forego the prep work, appointments, and research. Customers are savvy. Failing to set up appointments is the fastest way to lose credibility with prospects or clients.
7: Rep bad-mouths the competition: I like to finish my seminars with the Japanese term called Kaizen, which states that In every day, in every way, never ceasing, never ending, always getting better one day at a time. Before I finish with that saying, I have everyone hold hands in the room. I then tell the audience that the competition for broadcast reps is outside of the room, not inside the room. I show them their local newspaper which is still filled with full-page ads from auto dealers and various other retailers. Bad-mouthing the competition shrinks the pit. It does not make it bigger!
6: Rep lacks education about their own product and industry: Why is learning about a product so hard? A sales rep needs to know everything there is to know about their companys website metrics. They need to know the demographics, the coverage areas of their products, and so on. Good salespeople learn the product and use it, listen to it, absorb it. They also must learn sales methodology. In order to believe in the company products, a rep must understand all of the features and benefits of their products.
5: Rep does not provide timely information: Just today, I found a media kit, information about the product of a company, that was dated 2010 with statistics for the company that went even further back. Make sure the research is current and is updated regularly.
4: Rep lacks the understanding of customers needs: In my experience, 90 percent of clients say that sales reps are not inside their business and do not understand their challenges. It is not a cookie-cutter world anymore. One media schedule does not apply to all advertisers. A customers proposal should be tailor-made. A proposal should not be a template where only the name of the business is changed.
3: Rep acts over-confident or pushy: It is one thing to get the contract signed during a presentation, but there is a fine line between leading and pushing. Reps should lead the client to the finish line instead of pushing them over it. Top-notch sales reps know the difference.
2: Rep tries to sell customers something they do not need: This happens in the automotive industry on a regular basis. The finance and insurance manager takes advantage of a customer who barely qualifies for a loan. Once approved, the manager stacks on the extra coverage that duplicates what is already provided by the manufacturer. Give the customer results through the product. Long-term consistency is the ultimate goal.
1: Rep shows poor follow-up: A common mistake that I see is over promising and under delivering. Weak salespeople do not follow through on what they say they are going to do. Great salespeople get the re-order by producing and exceeding the goals expected by the clients.
If any of these tactics describe you, take the time to improve your knowledge base. Your future and success depend on it!
Sean Luce is the Head Instructor for the Luce Performance Group International and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.