“Maybe I shouldn’t have done my best.”
Was my first letter too impersonal?
“I completely missed my chance to relate our value to the challenge facing them.”
When a promising deal does not materialize, it is easy to speculate. And in many cases, that’s all we do as sellers: guesswork. Analytical developments and new technologies make it easier to dissect lost closed trades, but at the end of the day, nothing is quite as impactful as hearing directly from the buyers themselves.
Fortunately, we have access to these views. For the State of Sales 2021 Report, LinkedIn polled thousands of buyers and decision makers around the world to get a sense of what salespeople are getting right, and where gaps remain.
One of the main results that emerged from this research is a A clear set of six deal-breaking behaviors That buyers reported doing business with sellers.
B2B Sellers: Avoid These 6 Dealing Hassles.
When buyers were asked which sales behaviors kill spot deals, buyers chose these options the most.
1. Providing misleading information about a product, its price, etc.
Remember: Disinformation does not mean lying. Backtracking or obscuring important details can have an equally detrimental effect in the eyes of buyers.
These days, these buyers are more knowledgeable than ever, and their BS detectors are finely tuned. Dismissing them is a recipe for hastily sabotaging trust.
In a video in the LinkedIn Learning Course Prepare Yourself for a Career in Sales, sales expert Dean Carell talks about the importance of staying honest in the profession.
“Sometimes with stress and worry about meeting the sales budget or wanting to make sure we perform better than our peers, we may be tempted to say things to the customer to bring that sale or put, apparently, in a better light,” Dean explains. “The problem is that it may work once here and again there, but at the end of the day, people will find out and the truth will come out.”
This not only jeopardizes your deal, but also your relationship and even your reputation.
2. Not understanding my company and its needs.
Buyers are busy and have a short time. They don’t want to have to explain things a salesperson can learn independently through online research.
When you appear with an incomplete or incorrect understanding of the business you are trying to help, it is a red flag. The first principle Buyer First is “Learn, Then Determine,” and it should always happen in this order.
Just sharing some ideas and details of the buyer’s company and role, to prove that you’ve done your homework, can be a critical factor.
3. Not understanding their product or service.
In some sectors, solutions can be complex and technical. Sales professionals, in general, are not IT experts or developers, and they should not be expected to possess this level of specialized knowledge.
However, you should be prepared to answer a good range of questions that curious buyers will ask about specifications, implementation, limitations, etc.
If you find yourself saying “I don’t know” in response to these types of queries with any frequency, it may be time to spend more time with your productive people and gain a stronger understanding, so you can answer questions with confidence.
4. Not understanding the products or services of their competitors.
B2B buying is a cumbersome, and usually high-risk process. Decision makers are under pressure and want to make the best possible decision for their company. In many cases, they weigh options that look very similar.
Clarity is the key. One of the best ways to make the leap to a “Trusted Consultant” (which is how 89% of buyers describe the salespeople they end up with), is by having a clear, unfiltered understanding of your space, and the ability to articulate the differences between your solution and others.
To build trust, you must be willing to address your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
“Top-performing salespeople spend more of their time researching their industry, learning about their competitors, understanding trends, reading about additional things that affect their industry, and being thought leaders and consultants in their space than they do bombarding phones, sending emails,” Sohail said. Al Mansouri, CEO of Bravado.
5. It is associated with a brand that I do not trust.
Unlike the above four elements, this one is not entirely under the control of the salesperson. But the sales team certainly has a huge impact on how the company is perceived, since they are among the most prominent points of direct contact with buyers.
This is why it is so important to strive for a culture of consistent buyer-first practices throughout the organization.
This finding also underscores the importance of working with marketing to enhance a brand image that reflects trust, credibility and purpose. Quality thought leadership can go a long way in this regard.
6. Not calling or emailing me frequently.
Perseverance to stay connected and plug away in the face of frequent failure has been a calling card for high-performing sellers. But today’s business environment has turned that agreement on its head.
Adapting to this reality may require a massive shift in how sales professionals are hired and trained, according to Sahl.
“I think it’s crazy that we hire for boldness, stamina, determination and perseverance when our clients want someone who is compassionate, kind, trustworthy, a great listener, and an expert in their field,” he said. “It’s almost as if there is almost no overlap between what customers want from a great salesperson and what the vice president of sales wants from a great salesperson.”
By building your sales approach around the set of traits Sahil has just outlined, you’ll be on the right track to bypass the best deal breakers and achieve more success in the new era of sales.
For more advice on what to do and what not to do as a seller, Subscribe to LinkedIn Sales Blog.