Partners in Performance Blog

Deconstructing Big Whopper Sales Mistakes

Sales-MistakesOne of my colleagues was recently lamenting about his frustration in a sales pursuit. To me, he committed two really big whoppers of sales mistakes. He was not successful in securing the business with a client he wanted, which is a shame. The prospective client had a tough problem which could have been alleviated with my colleague’s help.

For Fred, my colleague, it was not only a lost sale but a missed opportunity to contribute his unique expertise and make a positive difference. By all rights he should have won this business. This work was right in his wheelhouse. He had recently completed a project for a similar client with identical challenges. The measurable results were astonishing.

So how did this happen?

Deconstructing the Selling Cycle

After a few questions to understand his step by step process, the following jumped out at me:

Big Whopper Mistake #1: Selling to the Wrong Client Contact

The client contact who reached out to Fred was a Training Manager. According to Miller Heiman’s Strategic Selling she is the ‘Technical Buyer’. The ‘User’ client was an executive in her company and she had been tasked to source a solution. In this example the executive was also the ‘Buyer’. While it’s ok to initiate discussions with a technical buyer, it’s a mistake to not engage all the key stakeholders who will impact the decision.

Even though Fred asked excellent questions of the Training Manager and she was well grounded in her executive’s needs, without connecting directly with executive, Fred compromised his success. What could he have done?

  1. Fred could have requested a second discovery meeting including the executive to confirm his understanding of requirements.
  2. Or he could have requested to include the executive in the proposal presentation. This is riskier because the summary of needs outlined in the proposal would be missing first hand perspectives from the executive.

Here in lies the second mistake. There was no proposal presentation. Fred emailed the proposal with instructions to call if there were questions.

Big Whopper Mistake #2: Emailing proposals without setting up a meeting to present and review it together

I know some people think it’s okay to fire off a proposal by email without properly presenting it to get the client reaction, address concerns and confirm next steps. I see it happening more and more, but why?

  • Are people trying to save time?
  • Do they not know how to present virtually if the client is out of town?
  • Are they missing a process to present a proposal?

For me it’s a big problem and I would never do it. When I have a qualified lead and put in hard work to get to the proposal writing stage you can be darn sure I am going to maintain control of the process by securing a time to present the proposal.  This is my goal even when the proposal is brief and simple. I will set up a face-to-face or virtual meeting with a system like GoToMeeting. And I strive to set up the meeting to include the right people – the ones who will make or influence the decision.

What about you? Is it ever okay to email a sales proposal without a confirmed meeting to review it and if so under what circumstances? I’d love to hear from you; you can reach me here or on LinkedIn.

I am curious to know just how prevalent this is. Please vote:

This entry was posted by Tanja Parsley on January 20, 2015 in Client Stories, Intentional Selling™, Sales Process, Selling Cycle. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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