Stop committing these 15 Costly Sales Mistakes
I tend to read a lot of books on Sales Methodologies. Now that I have read a numerous materials on Sales, I felt let me share a list of Costly Sales Mistakes or Situations which every sales professional should try to avoid in a Sales Process.

As per my experiences, the following 15 types of sales mistakes should be avoided at any cost:
Sales Negotiation - Introduction, Styles and Common Mistakes

What is Sales Negotiation?

Sales negotiation is a strategic discussion between the Buyer and Seller before finalizing the terms and conditions of the deal. 

The Objective of any Sales Negotiation process is to arrive at an agreement on the terms and conditions of the deal.

The best practice for a long-term relationship between Buyer and Seller is to try to cut the deal with a Win-Win for both parties. Sometimes, it may also require the parties to lead to a little bit of compromise on certain terms but ultimately helps close the deal.


Identify your Negotiation Style:

Before you move further with Sales Negotiation 101, you must know that you would have played the role of a Negotiator sometime in the past either way. So this is not Rocket Science that you cannot learn. You just need to understand where you stand and where do you need to upskill in order to make a mark in Sales Negotiation discussions.

In order to assess your current know-how, you need to know your own negotiation style. Refer to the below image. This graph represents a view on how do you put your own needs and wants versus your customer’s needs and wants. 

 

[Image Credits - Negotiations.com ]

Pause and think about a few Sales Deals you have handled in the recent past and assess where do you stand.

The 5 types of Negotiation styles are:

  1. Compete - I Win – You Lose
  2. Avoid – I Lose – You Lose
  3. Accommodate – You Win – I Lose
  4. Compromise – I win/lose some you win/lose some.
  5. Collaborate – I Win – You Win.

Assess yourself against your negotiation style and contrast it with the long-term goals you have for your Client. Assess if your current negotiation style is correct or would need any course correction in order to build the type of relationship you would like to build with the Customer.


Common Mistakes in Sales Negotiation


1. Lack of Preparation

Often, due to lack of time, Sales teams tend to avoid engaging in the right amount of preparation before the Sales Negotiation meeting. Lack of preparation may lead you to either compromise on the deal or on in the worst case, you also stand chance to lose the deal. Hence, ensure to always prepare before the meeting. You may not have all the time in the world to do an in-depth preparation if you are handling loads of parallel deals, however, ensure to prepare on the fundamentals such as basic research about the customer, the stakeholders, the value proposition of the products or services which you are selling, the terms and conditions of your sales deal or contract, pricing, alternate competitor pricing for the same value proposition, Non-monetary benefits comprising your value proposition, etc. 

2. Not Listening or Understanding Customer pain points

Customers love the Sales professionals who take time to listen to their problems patiently and try to understand their pain points rather than those who try to push sell things without even properly listening to them. This shall take you nowhere in negotiation. If you are unaware of the pain points of the customer, you will never be able to arrive at a common agreement in the negotiation unless you solve the pain point or at least alleviate it.


3. Rigid Behavior, Ego, Putting yourself first

Some Salespeople tend to have rigid behavior and a tendency to keep their needs first. They tend to think of themselves as superior to the customer’s problems and try to force their terms and conditions onto the customer. Sometimes overachievers tend to take it as a war and tend to think that they have always won the war and should never allow others to win. This tendency pushes them to oversell and try to push hard to win the deal without a healthy negotiation. 


4. Not planning how much to concede

In Sales, Conceding things are important so that it leaves you with the appropriate capacity to provide concession during sales negotiation discussion. However, during the discussions, Beginners tend to make 2 kinds of mistakes. The first is conceding too much information, too early in the discussion. The second is conceding nothing, i.e. giving away all the concessions too early during the discussions. Both the cases are detrimental to sales success. You should have a fine balance between both in order to succeed. Understand how much to concede in the beginning and gradually start giving concession over the course of discussion.


5. Lowering Expectations for the overall negotiation

Some sales professionals, tend to have a preconceived notion of associating Negotiation with Compromise. This misconception leads them to lower their expectations even before the actual negotiation takes place. This tends to automatically affect the confidence and ultimately their performance and engagement during the discussion.


6. Getting Intimidated or Confused

Beginner sales professionals sometimes tend to get intimidated by the other Client Stakeholders during the meeting and in this state of confusion, sometimes tend to sign a bad deal by compromising on many terms. Avoid getting intimidated, since sometimes buyers may also be aware of such tactics such as Bad Cop/Good cop and may use it from their perspective as well as part of their procurement negotiation.


7. Underestimating their Power

Being a Sales professional, you must never underestimate your Power. Since you have been selling your products and services, you are far more knowledgeable about your own products and services compared to the buyer. You may be well aware of your value in the market in order to confidently stand defending your deal. Have a backup in place such as the alternatives you will try out if you lose the deal. This shall help you gain more confidence.


Hope this primer helped you get an introduction to Sales Negotiation. There is a lot more to learn on Sales Negotiation to propel your sales career to the next level. Want to read some more on this topic? Comment below your thoughts and let me know.


A Good Sales CRM can help propel your Sales team by enabling them with the data they need for effective Sales Negotiation. Have you tried ToolsOnCloud CRM yet? Try for FREE!


Why newbies should focus on Vertical Selling instead of Horizontal Selling
Are you a Newbie just delving into your Sales Career?
or
Are you a Sales Manager looking for assigning a territory to a newbie in your team?

or
Are you a Newbie startup looking to start with Selling your Product or Solution?


If answer to any of these questions is "Yes", 
Then you should focus on Vertical Selling instead of Horizontal Selling!


Surprised? In this post, I would tell you why is that so!


3 Price Negotiation Mistakes every Salesperson should avoid
Often, Salespersons tend to make mistakes during their Sales Negotiation conversations and tend to lose out on the sales wondering what exactly happened. The lead which they have been following up for many month now is lost just at the last phase of the sales cycle at the time of Sales Negotiation. These are the 3 expensive mistakes which every sales person should avoid at the time of negotiation.


1. Price Negotiation on High Cost Products


Avoid negotiation with Customers for reducing the price of high cost products. Always try to negotiate with customers only for the low cost products having a high perceived value in the minds of the customers. If you reduce the price of High Cost Products, then customers would expect that every time they buy from you. This is detrimental for your business growth since you would find it difficult to run your business on thin margin for a prolonged period of time.


2. Not knowing the Urgency for Customers


As a Salesperson, you would stand good at negotiating position if you are aware of the extent of urgency of the customer who wants to buy from you. If they are having less time and the purchase of the product you are selling is urgent for them, then you stand a better chance. In this kind of situation, you have more chances to crack the sales deal with lesser amount of negotiation with the customer. This is because since customer doesn’t have much time to search for another vendor, they would happily agree with your price. 


3. Starting Negotiation without understanding the needs of the customer



You should never start sales negotiation at the start of the sales cycle even without understanding the needs of the customer in the discovery phases of the sales cycle. The more questions you ask to your customer during the Need Discovery phases of the sales cycle, the more information you will get on the needs and requirements of the customers. This will help you set the expectations of the customers and would help you negotiate better. The more you know about the expectations of the client, the more you would be able to point out those facts during your sales negotiation conversations and hence customers would be willing to pay a higher price if their expectations are met.

What is Sales Prospecting
A complete Sales lifecycle comprises multiple stages. But it always tends to start with Prospecting. But often newbie salespersons ponder upon the same question, 

"What exactly is Sales Prospecting?".

In this post, I would like to help those newbie and ambitious salespersons to understand what exactly is Sales Prospecting.
What is Consultative Selling?

In B2B Sales, One of the often-heard approaches of sales is Consultative selling or Solutions selling. In this post, let us discover what exactly is Consultative selling.

What is Consultative Selling:

Consultative selling or also known as solution selling is an approach where Salespersons engage their Prospects in a different way compared to conventional transaction based sales. In this approach, sales reps try to engage with customers more often like a Sales Advisor or like Solutioning consultant. 

In this approach, instead of trying to push sell the products which sales rep is selling, the representative tries to listen to the problems of customers in detail and try to weave around a solution to his problem in a more consultative way. In this process, he may identify where his products and services can add value in the solution stream and try to offer them to clients. In short, the representative tries to patiently listen to customer problems, understand their context in detail and try to offer them a solution for free. They try to meet the customers regularly to understand their context and situation in detail and try to offer a best fit solution.



This is a long term sales strategy. It may not give you results instantly, but slowly over a period of time you build trust by providing real value-add to your client. In this approach, you reap the benefits in long term with consistent sales later. In addition, customers slowly become your advocates and also help increase your sales by recommending you within their networks.

Consultative way of sales is not something very new in this world. Many front end sales staffs practice this approach unconsciously without being provided any explicit training on the same. 

Consider a situation, a customer visits an electronic shop to buy an oven. Customer had done some initial research about the products. Though he had decided the product at a particular price point, but he was not sure if it would meet his needs. Once he reached the store, he is greeted by the sales staff. On getting to know that customer is looking for an oven, the store representative asked, "May I know, what would you be using it for?". Customer replied by saying "He wants to use it for this family comprising of 6 members and is interested in baking cakes and cookies". Based on this context, the store representative suggested one product which suits customer needs better and was in fact lower priced than the one which the customer was planning to buy.

With this example you can understand that reps need to wear the shoes of customer and suggest a best solution to his problem which he is trying to solve. This may sometime mean that you may not get to sell high priced products. This is absolutely fine since you need to build trust with the customer and see them as a long term asset instead of trying to strike a single sales transaction. Push selling is not good for long run and customer never realizes the true value of those offerings since there was fundamental mismatch against his needs.

Suggested Reading: 5 Step process for Consultative Selling.

I hope you liked reading this post, do check out our other posts. 

Looking for a Sales CRM to organize your Sales Lead and Deal tracking? Try ToolsonCloud CRM, Its Free.

5 Step process for Consultative Selling

 In my previous post, I wrote about Consultative Selling fundamentals. In this post, let us discuss more on this topic and try to understand the steps behind Consultative selling so that any beginner can practice the art of consultative selling in an organized way.

Here are the 5 steps you need to follow in order to practice Consultative Selling:



1. Understand your Customer Background:

  • Regularly try to connect with your customer. Regular meeting ensures you get to learn more about your customer, the way they work, their work environment, the processes within their organizations, etc.
  • This shall help you provide more contextual solution later.


2. Listen:

  • Listening is one of the critical sales skills. Instead of speaking more about your products, you need to patiently listen to your customer. 
  • Patiently listen to your customer's pain points, the problems which he is trying to solve.
  • Listen to them in detail.


3. Ask Questions:
 

  • In order to know more, you need to ask more questions, probe the customer with different sales probing questions.
  • This shall help you know more about the various purchase processes within their organization, the probable budget of the customer for the requirement, the timeline which your customer is looking forward to close the purchase, the urgency of the requirement, the stakeholders and decision makers involved with the purchase.


4. Provide Free Solutions:
  • An important component of Consultative selling is providing free solutions. Keep providing your expertise and expert advices for free. Keep giving solutions to your client for their problems. Along with your solutions, you may be able to weave around your sales offerings where your products and services can add best value to Client.
  • Sometimes, you may realize the best solution to the client's problem may not require your products. In those cases, do not hesitate to provide the same solution. A working solution suggested with honesty builds Client trust on you. This trust is something which helps you win deals over salesy presentations in the long run.


5. Regular Follow-up:
  • In sales, regular follow-up helps you boost your deal win rates drastically. Many deals were lost, because the sales person didn't follow up with the Client to know if they needed any additional information or action to close the deal. Most of those deals were won by competitor vendors whose sales reps did a timely follow up.
  • Always follow up on time to know if there is any additional action pending. Try to understand what is stopping them for confirming the deal. Many a times, this follow up helps you clear out some easy obstacles to pluck the low hanging fruity deals. 
I hope you liked reading this post. Do let me know your thoughts. 

Looking for a Sales CRM to track your B2B Sales Deals? Try Toolsoncloud CRM Today. 

Complete CRM buying guide explained in 5 simple steps

If you are a Sales Manager having a team of Sales reps working under you. Very soon you would realize, you are unable to get any meaningful insights out of your Sales Deal tracker Excel sheet.

You might be already facing various problems like the below ones:

  1. You are unable to scale up your Sales Development efforts because your Sales Reps are required to do more clerical paperwork or data entry work in multiple excel trackers instead of focusing their time on pursuing sales leads. 
  2. When you are trying to scale up your Sales development operations, you feel like you are losing track of many things on your plate and unable to focus anywhere. Earlier when you used to hit 10 conversions per month, now even after scaling up with a target of 100, you are still struggling to make the old 10 conversions like earlier.

These are some of the visible signs, that you have reached a high time where you need to buy an effective CRM solution that can solve your team’s growing problems.

Step 1: Why are you buying? – Identify your team’s key pain point.

  • You need to investigate the pain points well before buying any readymade CRM solution in a hurry. 
  • Identify what is it that your team is facing challenges in:
  1. Some reps might be facing challenges that they are spending more than 1/3rd of their time on manual data entry-related tasks and updating numerous trackers instead of getting time to speak to their leads.
  2. Some reps might be facing challenges that their work involves a lot of traveling, due to which they are looking for some Mobile CRM like solution which they can quickly open on their smartphone and update the follow-up work.
  3. Some reps might be facing challenges that due to an increase in the number of leads, they are unable to recall the important mail or telephonic conversation they had with the clients in order to make the next follow up call and tend to postpone talking to that lead thinking that they will search those details later and follow up.
  4. Reasons can be many, talk to them, find out, and list them down.

Step 2: Identify a CRM solution which solve most of the problems of your team.
  • Never try to push-fit a CRM to your team just for the sake of having a CRM. CRM should help your team, instead of your team helping the CRM to stay. Most of the time a misfit CRM is forced upon a team and it tends to become a failure, with the tool being left abandoned incurring lot of IT costs & wastage of license fees.
  • Based on the list of problems you identified in Step 1, go to the market and search for a CRM which solves all of the key problems faced by your team.



Step 3: Estimate your CRM Budget.
  • Most of the Sales Manager’s initially do not have any specific CRM Budget in mind. One of the reason behind this might be non-familiarity of CRM apps & their market pricing; and second reason is that they never gave a thought about the real perceived value of a CRM which suits their team.
  • In that case, you may need to do a budget estimation instead of directly going by the available prices in the market. Remember that, every organization is different and the best CRM which solves all your problem can cost you either zero dollars or may also cost 1000$ per license depending on the complexity of highly focused & customized service bundled in it. Hence instead of buying anything directly, estimate your budget first.
  • You may estimate your budget in the following ways:
  1. Estimate how much of team member’s time can be saved if a CRM is enabled for them.
  2. Relate the team member's time saved to the compensation they get for that amount of time. 
  3. Now that you have an estimate of money you lose every month on the salary which is not productively generating any revenue due to wasted hours, you may now decide how much to spend to make effective use of the salary spending to improve your revenue top line.
  4. Alternatively, instead of Staff Salary, you can also reference that time wasted in terms of the conversion they could have made during that time and the revenue that could have generated. That should give a more fair idea of how much your sales rep’s time is valued.
  • In addition to budget, you need to estimate your potential payout upon using a good CRM. This is usually the top line, the revenue which you tend to generate by saving the precious time of your sales rep and getting the right sales insight at the right time from the CRM solution.

Related Reading: Estimate your budget for buying a Sales CRM


Step 4: Take a trial

  • If the upfront entry cost of buying a CRM solution is high, you should never buy a software without ever actually trying it out for some days. If the entry level license cost is low, you may be able to take such risk of actually paying without any trial. However when stakes are high, you must insist for a trial.
  • While doing trial, ask for your team member’s real feedback instead of just doing couple of demo clicks on your own.
  • When you feel the tool is fit to solve your pain points and is good on pocket, you may go ahead with payment for paid license once your trial gets over.

Interested in trying out a CRM: Try out Toolsoncloud CRM, Its free


Step 5: Adoption

  • Your CRM initiative will fail if the actual user i.e. your Sales Team will not use it religiously.
  • A CRM is as good as the accuracy of the data it possess so that you can derive some insights out of it. A new tool may result in change in few processes for which team may show some amount of reluctance or lack of interest. However if your team doesn’t use the tool, the data provided by software may become outdated, incomplete or incorrect thus rendering your massive investment to become a failure.
  • Hence evangelize the CRM which you brought for your team. After all, you did so much of ground work before actually putting it in front of your team. Lead by example, if you use the tool religiously, so will be your followers and your subordinate. 



5 features to look before buying a Sales CRM
Very often CEOs and CMOs of startups who are searching for a CRM for their Sales Team find themselves in a confused state. With numerous CRM applications available in the market, they are in a dilemma to choose from various available options.

To decide which CRM is the best for you, you need to list down the functionalities you expect from a CRM system. After my interaction with multiple people in sales on LinkedIn, I found a number of things which are being expected from a CRM.

Sales Manager [Image Credits]
In short, modern sales teams consider following 5 things to be must have functionalities in a CRM without which a CEO or CMO should never purchase a CRM from any vendor.

1. Deals or Leads tracker.

A Good CRM should have a Deals or Leads tracker within it as a primary functionality. With this functionality, your sales team members should be able to add Deals or Leads into your CRM system so that it can be tracked as it traverses through various stages of the sales process which might be analogous to sales stages of New, Contact Made, Meeting Scheduled, Presentation Made, Negotiation, Won or Lost Deals stage, etc. 

  • This gives a transparent view to the sales manager who can visualize as to which deal is stuck at a particular stage for long and need attention or follow ups. 
  • It also helps forecast the sales for upcoming months based on the number of deals or Leads which are present in the sales pipeline based on the conversion ratio of each stage. 
  • This helps you plan the number of deals required at each stage of sales process to have a steady flow of revenue every month.
  • This also helps Sales Managers prioritize the Deals based on multiple parameters like Deal size or Winning probability, etc.


2. Contact Management Functionality

Your CRM should have a Contact Management functionality which helps you organize the contact information of your clients whom you need to interact with regards to the various deals in your sales pipeline. A good Contact Management feature should allow the sales team members to not only add contacts of people but also contact details of a company with which the deal is in sales pipeline. 

  • Most importantly, the contact management functionality should have a sync with your Deals or Leads tracker rather than acting as a separate functionality in silos. 
  • This feature should allow you to visualize the relationship with contacts and deals. Hence, if you view a contact, your CRM should be in a position to give you information on which all deals you are interacting with that contact, the past conversations you had with the concerned contact and other information about the contact which can help you crack the concerned deal.


3. Sales Reporting & Analytics

Your CRM contains lots of data entered into the system about deals, contacts and associated activities happening on each of them. But as a Sales Manager or a CMO or a CEO, what you need to know is the status in terms of numbers. Hence your CRM should give a bird eye view of where do your sales team stand in terms of sales status. 

  • It can be in terms of numbers of upcoming deals in the pipeline, Deals Won or Lost in a specified time period, Reason for winning or losing the deals, Revenue forecast, Deviation of actual revenue from the forecast or sales goal, etc.
  • This helps Sales Managers act instantaneously as and when they observe any anomaly in the Real Time Reports & Analytics 


4. Multi User functionality

Since CRM is to be used by your sales team it should have functionality to support multiple users. Unlike shared spreadsheets shared among multiple users which has no logs of which user updated the excel file, your CRM should track activities of each individual user. 

  • It should enable the team members to stay accountable for their activities and not avoid accountability while entering status trackers which might happen when people are just editing a single excel file shared at a common location as it happens in a conventional companies which are yet to go Digital.


5. Flexibility in designing Sales Processes

Every business is different both in terms of the way they manage their sales process. Hence your sales CRM shouldn't force you to follow a rigid sales process which is difficult for your business due to complexities involved. 

I believe CRM should empower the sales teams rather than creating difficulties for your sales personnel. This means your CRM should be flexible enough to fit in your sales team within it rather than your sales team trying to fit their already established processes as per the CRM.

  • Hence your CRM should allow you to design and re-design your Sales Stages. 
  • Some Organizations might follow sales stages as New Deal, Contacted, Presentation, Negotiation, Won. 
  • While at the same time another Organization might want to design sales stages as New, Contacted via Phone, Proposal Made, Presentation, Demo,  Negotiation, Contract Preparation, Contract Approval etc. 
  • At the same time, some startup Sales Manager would like to experiment with different sales processes until they hit across a process which works out right for them.

Hence a good CRM should empower the sales managers with the flexibility to design their sales processes as and when they require.


Hence before buying your first CRM, do checkout these 5 must have functionalities for your CRM.

Related Posts:
Calculate your budget for buying a Sales CRM Software
Have you been lately trying to finalize a CRM software for your team but unable to figure out how much should you be spending for CRM?

As Businesses differ in size and type of deal value they deal in, It is complex for you to figure out the exact numeric estimate of how much of your allocated budget you must spend for taking up a CRM. Market is filled with CRM which charges from 9 USD per month per user to 500 USD per month per user based on the feature complexity of the Software and Value add provided by the service as per the needs of the Sales Team.

But How much should you as a Sales Manager be allocating your budget for CRM Implementation within your organization?

The answer is difficult and complex! 



But Let us try to find a simple solution to it.

Get an Estimate of Cost incurred by Sales Executive doing Non-revenue generating task:

  • Get an estimated figure of the amount you spend paying your Sales Executive's Annual Salary.
  • With that, try to find your hourly cost rate of your executives.
  • Guess the average amount of time each Sales team member spends in a day doing manual entry of his sales figures into an Excel file to be shared to his Manager or to Reporting analyst who will consolidate it further for the whole team. This could be roughly around 30 minutes a day out of 8 working hours of the resource.
  • Guess the average amount of time each Sales team member spends in a day trying to search or recall or figure out some of the past conversation history with some Client documented in some random email or document which is important for his follow up call. This could again be roughly around 30 minutes to 1 hour per day.
  • Sum up both the time.

Get an Estimate of Cost incurred by Reporting Analysts doing Non-revenue generating tasks:

  • Sales Reporting Analysts doing the task of Reporting and Measurement Analyst is redundant and detrimental for their career. Most of the time these resources are over burdened with the dirty work of following up with each sales executive and getting the sales figures, plugging it in spreadsheet application and drawing pivot tables, bar charts, pie charts, line chart etc and prepare a dashboard for the Senior Management. 
  • By the time Analysts complete this task for a particular week, the next week very soon arrives and his task keeps repeating week over week without an end. This is unproductive since Sales Analysts should be spending time trying to get important insights from Sales numbers which can help them beat revenue targets instead of trying to become a data gathering guy of the Sales Team.
  • Now get an estimated figure of the Salary you pay to your Sales Reporting Analyst annually.
  • Note: Do this step only if your team's sales analyst is involved with the above non-revenue generating activities. If your Sales Analyst is involved with other productive work, you may skip this step, or try to find the hours spent by him doing these non-productive tasks and get estimated Salary getting spend on that part.

Get the Total Estimate:

Total Yearly CRM Budget (Annual Salary of Sales Executive * (Total Time Spent per day doing Unproductive work/ 8 hours per day) *  Total Number of Sales Executives in team) (Annual Salary of Reporting Analysts * Total Number of Reporting Analysts in your team)


The above amount would be the yearly estimate of how much should you be spending on your CRM which is going waste in the Salary of resources doing non-revenue generating tasks.

How much should you be spending monthly per sales staff?

CRM Budget per User per Month = Total Yearly CRM Budget / (12 Months * Total Number of Sales Executives) 

This figure would give you a rough estimate of how much should you be ideally spending per team member on a CRM.

Let me know your thoughts on this.