Seven Negotiating Mistakes That Hurt Your Sales

January 31st, 2017

Seven Negotiating Mistakes That Hurt Your SalesNegotiation is an essential element of most sales efforts. Yet too many salespeople, professionals, and business owners lack the skills to negotiate successfully. If you’re not good at negotiating, it can cost you both sales and profits.

Have you made any of these common negotiating mistakes lately?

1. Not being willing to walk away
This is both the most common and most deadly negotiating mistake. If you’re not willing to walk away from the deal, you’ve already lost. Your willingness to walk away is your greatest source of power in any negotiation.

2. Having the wrong attitude
Do you—like many people—hate negotiating? Does it make you uncomfortable? Do you do whatever it takes to avoid it? Then you need an attitude reset. Negotiating is not about fighting or conflict or seeing who can screw over the other side more. It’s about working together to create an outcome that’s beneficial for both parties. It can be challenging, but it can also be fun and invigorating.

3. Undervaluing your product or service
Too many salespeople don’t appreciate the full value of their own products and services. As a result, they often ask for too little or they agree to a low-ball first offer—both of which hurt profits.

4. Failing to do sufficient research
Whoever has more information in a negotiation has an advantage. How much do you know about your buyer? What are their goals and dreams? What are their concerns and fears? What are their values and priorities? What pressures and deadlines are they dealing with? What is your product or service really worth to them? What options do they have besides buying from you?

5. Focusing on only one issue at a time
While it’s natural to try to resolve one issue before moving on to another, it’s also easy to get stuck that way. Look at the whole picture. Often you can trade one issue for another, thus resolving two at once.

6. Making unilateral concessions
When you make a concession without getting one in return, you encourage your buyer to ask for more. If there’s no cost to them, why shouldn’t they ask? Which opens you up to losing more and more on the deal. Always, always, always require a concession from your buyer in exchange for a concession from you.

7. Not looking for creative solutions
What’s important to your buyer besides what’s on the table? What’s important to you besides what’s in the contract? Could you give them better terms instead of a discount? Could they provide you with referrals? Could you throw in something that costs you little or nothing but would be valuable to them? Look for creative ways to increase the value for both sides. (Hint: This is where having lots of information about your prospect really comes in handy.)

Fortunately, each of these mistakes is relatively easy to correct and thus avoid in the future. Awareness is a big part of each one. Practice negotiating in low-stakes situations to get more comfortable, gain confidence, and hone your skills. That way, when the pressure is on, you won’t make any of these mistakes, earning you more sales and more profits.

Nine Ways to Correct a Customer Without Insulting Them

January 24th, 2017

Nine Ways to Correct a Customer Without Insulting Them

In my last post, I wrote about the fact that—contrary to a popular business cliché—customers are often wrong. In those situations, it’s up to us to correct them, so they don’t make a mistake, or at least prevent them from making the same mistake again.

How we correct people though, is critical. It’s imperative to avoid making potential or existing customers feel stupid, because a person who feels insulted shuts down, and may walk away forever.

For that reason, you should never, ever tell a buyer, “You’re wrong.” Just because they are, doesn’t mean they need the fact rubbed in their face.

Instead, empathize with them and validate their belief. Use statements like:

• “I understand how you might think that.”
• “A lot of people are under that impression.”
• “That’s a common misconception.”
• “I used to think that too.”
• “Unfortunately there’s a ton of misinformation out there.”
• “I hear that a lot.”

If you’re dealing with a customer problem that was partially—or entirely—the customer’s fault, use statements such as:

• “That’s an easy mistake to make.”
• “Happens all the time.”
• “I probably would have done the same thing.”

By empathizing and validating, you help your prospect or customer feel better about being wrong. When your buyer feels understood and respected, rather than belittled and judged, they respect and like you more. Which makes it easier for you to correct their thinking, as well as to get or keep them as a customer.

Correcting a customer who is wrong is not the time to display your intellectual superiority. Rather, it’s the time to empathize and validate, because both sales and customer service are ultimately all about emotions. Create a positive emotional experience for your customer and they’ll reward you with their business.

The Customer Is Rarely Right

January 17th, 2017

The Customer Is Rarely RightOne of the most common clichés in business is “The customer is always right.” It’s a staple of books and training seminars on sales, marketing, and customer service.

And it’s dead wrong.

While today’s buyers certainly have access to more information than ever before, there are still plenty of things they typically don’t know, and thus can be wrong about. These include:

• What questions to ask
• The costs that go into producing a product or service
• What they really need versus what they think they need
• The meaning of industry terms
• What makes one product or service better than another
• Hidden costs, fees, and taxes
• Risks
• How appropriate something is for their particular situation
• Maintenance needs and costs
• Why buying a cheaper option can be terrible
• How to properly use their new product or service
• The future
• What they don’t know

Add to this all the biases, prejudices, misinformation, rumors, myths, and urban legends rattling around in the average person’s head, and it’s no wonder so many prospects have difficulty making buying decisions.

That’s what buyers need you for. To clear them of their misconceptions, help them figure out which options are best for them, and ensure they have a positive ownership experience.

It’s also why you need to begin your selling process by asking lots of questions and listening carefully to the answers. So you can discover what they know and what they only think they know. It’s the latter than can cost you the sale. Only when you uncover the gaps and inaccuracies in your prospect’s knowledge can you help them overcome them. That way you can both be right.

Look to the Past for Future Sales

January 10th, 2017

Look to the Past for Future SalesAs a general rule, it’s best to focus on the present while keeping an eye toward the future. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should completely ignore the past. Because not only does the past hold a plethora of lessons—both personal and business—it can also hold opportunities for sales now and in the future. Here are three past sources of future business.

1. Past Clients
Your past customers already know you and (hopefully) like you, so the hardest work is already done. How else can you serve them? Do you have new products or services they could use? Have they developed new needs, challenges or goals? Do they have other divisions or locations that could use what you sell? And do they know other prospects they can refer you to?

2. Past Prospects
Just because a previous prospect didn’t buy from you then, doesn’t mean they won’t buy from you ever. What was the reason they didn’t buy? Has their situation changed? Did they choose a different company, and if so, did they have a good experience? Might they be looking for a new vendor?

3. Past Relationships
It’s easier than ever to lose contact with people we used to know and interact with. Fortunately, it’s also easier than ever to reconnect with people we’ve lost touch with. Reach out via social media or perhaps an old-fashioned phone call or e-mail. Don’t ask about sales opportunities during your initial contact—focus on them. Rebuild the relationship first, then you can ask for introductions or referrals.

You obviously don’t want to dwell on the past, but you should poke around in it every once in a while to see what gems you might be able to mine from it. One little nugget from the past could turn into a huge sale in the future.

Short Attention Spans Aren’t the Problem

January 3rd, 2017

Short Attention Spans Aren’t the ProblemIt seems like every other week I read an article bemoaning the ever-declining length of the human attention span, which apparently is down to 4½ seconds. (Which means you’re no longer even reading this.)

Here’s the thing though: I’ve never been able to find a legitimate study that scientifically documents this supposed decline.

And in fact, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary: Movie audiences will happily sit in a darkened theater ( or “theatre” in Europe) for up to three hours at a time. People routinely binge watch ten or twelve straight hours of television via Hulu or Netflix. And every new “Harry Potter” book caused millions of kids to worry their parents by refusing to come down to dinner because they were too busy reading.

The problem isn’t that we have shorter attention spans than ever before, it’s that we have a lower tolerance for being bored.

Which means if people aren’t reading your articles, listening to your sales presentations or watching your videos, it’s not because people don’t have sufficient attention spans, it’s because your stuff sucks.

The reality is, if your stuff is awesome, people will pay attention to it.

So how do you make your stuff awesome?

Know your audience
Define your ideal client: age, sex, job title, industry, location, marital status, income, etc. Write or record specifically for them.

Focus on what they care about
Nobody cares about you. Everybody cares about themselves. So talking about your company, product or service is boring. Talking about your prospects’ wants, needs, problems, goals, fears and dreams is engaging.

Get help
If you’re not a naturally gifted writer or charismatic presenter, you’re not doomed to bore people forever. Just get the help you need to come across better, whether that means an editor, a presentation coach, a professional writer, a graphic designer, a spokesperson, or someone else who can help you shine.

The attention of prospective buyers is one of the most valuable commodities for any business or salesperson. And because the competition for that attention is more intense than ever before, people can be choosier about where they devote it.

But they will devote it, if they’re interested enough. Short attention spans aren’t the problem—the quality of your content is. Make your stuff more compelling and you’ll get more attention. And more sales.