What’s the most common mistake in sales?

Adam Hankinson, Managing Director at Furniture Sales Solutions, talks about the most common mistake in sales.

“The difference between getting the sale and not getting the sale is sometimes something so small that even the most experienced sales person might not spot it and even the customer themselves might not know that they WOULD have bought if this tiny detail had been addressed.” This type of opportunity, however, is hard to quantify and much, much rarer than the daily occurrence and huge elephant in the room, the most common mistake in sales…. NOT asking for the order at all!

In 42 years of leading sales teams, the most common mistake I see is not asking for the order. There are a number of reasons for this. The salesperson has not identified the customers requirements so a recommendation cannot be made. The salesperson doesn’t believe that the customer is seriously in the market so “reads” buying signals, in the form of questions, comments and physical actions, as innocent activities rather than an act of intent. THIS IS CALLED A LIMITING BELIEF.

They don’t follow a thorough sales process. They don’t know the words to use. They think it’s pushy. They’ve never been trained to ask. They reflect their own buying preferences on the customer, for example, they offer to give the customer all the information available on the product or service that they’re selling, to take away as they themselves wouldn’t buy on the first visit.

They think that a “considered” purchase must take more than one visit to buy, and that it would be extremely rare that someone spending thousands of pounds couldn’t possibly buy on impulse. They can and do all the time.

Let me share with you how we train people to deal with all of these none truths without a hard close or upsetting the customer.

1. Create in your mind the absolute belief that everyone that enters your store is in the market and behave appropriately. Imagine how you would behave when your £3,000 comeback comes in – you’re delighted, beaming a genuine Duchenne smile, look it up, and your passion and enthusiasm are transferred directly onto the customer. Compare that intention with the opposing belief that you’re dealing with a “tyre-kicker” with no intention to buy and how that feeling might affect our poorly judged customer.

Reframe every buying signal in your mind – with the statement to yourself that whatever they do or say or ask – you add “because I want to buy one”. This reframe changes your apathy or frustration into encouragement.

2.Ask questions of your now serious buyer as a serious “seller”. That is with genuine interest in discovering customer needs and wants, uncover the customer’s must have’s – the three things that matter most to the customer and make those things the three most important things to you- focusing your attention on finding solutions to these three primary buying motives.

3.Follow a process that literally ticks off the individual component parts of any considered purchase. It’s only by ticking off the customers check list that we remove doubts that if not removed will stop the customer going ahead with the order. Your job here is to remove doubts from the customer mind and replace it with certainty. YOU MUST “IRON OUT THE CREASES” IN THE CUSTOMERS MIND BEFORE THEY WILL AGREE TO GO AHEAD.

We do this by confirming, one at a time, that the customer is happy with each individual element as we go… “So, you’re happy with x, is that right? ….and you’re happy with….? And you said you wanted xxxx……is that correct?” We do this until the customer is happy with everything.

4.Finally ask yourself have I earned the right to ask for the sale? Check by counting on your fingers that you have ticked all the boxes and proven to the customer, and yourself, that your product and service meets their needs, that it is completely logical that the next step is for them to buy and for you to ask for the order. Then smile and say, “How would you like to pay cash, card or one of our easy payment options?” (Finance), or “When would you like us to deliver to you?”, or “Please follow me to the desk”, or “Are you happy to go ahead?”

The very worst the customer might say is “we need to think about it…” (We have an answer for that too). In summary if you believe that your customer is a buyer and you ask the right questions and PROVE that your solutions are right and remove any doubt from the customers mind and you make it an “affordable today” investment – then you will have cracked the biggest mistake made in all of sales – NOT asking for the order.

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