The Single Biggest Mistake that Salespeople Make

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 28, 2010 @ 05:09 AM

Ask 10 people and you'll get 10 different answers about the biggest mistake that salespeople make.  Ask the question a bit differently and I will give you a different answer too.  But ask the question in the title - "What is the single biggest mistake that salespeople make?", with the key word being mistake - something they do incorrectly rather than something they do because of a weakness -  and I can provide data to back it up.  There are actually 3 mistakes that are almost always made but 2 of them occur as a result of the single biggest mistake. 

Objective Management Group has conducted nearly 9000 sales force evaluations and sales assessments.  The data clearly shows that in 84% of the cases, salespeople make inappropriately timed presentations.  What does that mean?

These days, the typical point of entry for a salesperson is AFTER a prospect determines an interest in purchasing a product or service.  The prospects think they know what they want and THEN the salespeople get involved.  Prospects ask for a presentation of capabilities and salespeople present their value propositions.  Prospects ask for pricing and salespeople create proposals.  Then the salespeople begin to follow up but the prospects have already disappeared when mistake #2 occurs - inappropriately timed follow up.

Let's use my Baseline Selling model to illustrate why the presentations taking place in the scenario above is inappropriately timed.

baseline selling model

In the baseball diamond, capabilities, value propositions, presentations and proposals take place between third base and home plate.  Yet, when a salesperson gets an audience with a prospect the salesperson has only reached first base.  It's inappropriate to run directly from first base to third base without touching second base on the way!  But 84% of all salespeople skip the valuable criteria that sits between first and second bases, as well as the criteria between second and third bases. 

A salesperson representing the industry leader or the low-price leader might get the business by being in the right place at the right time, but it's nearly impossible for everyone else to succeed in those scenarios. It is very difficult to sell without uncovering a prospect's compelling reasons to buy (spend money) and buy from you instead of your competitors.  That is just one of many criteria that must occur between first and second base.  It's nearly impossible to sell without learning how much money the prospect will spend and that is just one of many criteria that must be identified between second base and third base.  When a salesperson isn't aware of those two important slices of information, it isn't possible to differentiate (think decommoditize) your company from the pack nor can you present both a needs and cost appropriate solution!

What can you do about this problem?

I'll be presenting on this topic on October 6, 210 at 12 Noon ET, at the first annual Sales Edge One Sales Summit, a three-day on line event.  Over a span of three days, there will be a number of excellent presentations on a number of topics. And it's FREE! Click here for more information.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales summit, sales presentations, sales assessments

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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