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Why didn't I make that sale? (iStockPhoto/iStockPhoto)
Why didn't I make that sale? (iStockPhoto/iStockPhoto)

The Manager

Why, oh why, didn't I make that sale? Add to ...

Sales consultant Jeffrey Gitomer asks you to think about the last 25 sales you didn’t make. What went wrong?

If you’re like most sales people, you’ll blame the circumstances. But on his website, Mr. Gitomer says that, ultimately, the responsibility for the lost sales lies with you, and it likely happened because of some of these common blunders:

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Delivering a sales message

Instead of delivering a sales message, you need to deliver the potential customer’s buying message.

Avoid canned sales presentations. Learn why the prospect wants to buy, and shape your message to that.

Asking lame questions

Too often, sales reps ask basic questions about the customer that they could have answered for themselves with proper research. Instead, seize the opportunity to engage more intellectually and emotionally with your prospect.

Focusing on money

To determine whether the buyer qualifies for the offering, sales people often ask about money. Mr. Gitomer says those questions seek answers that are none of your business. Even if answered, they don’t accomplish very much. And they distract you from understanding that the buyer is also evaluating you – determining whether they want to work with you. Asking questions about money may not boost your standing.

Focusing on price

Price is in your mind more than the potential customers. Mr. Gitomer figures that only 30 per cent of the time, or less, is pricing an issue. Focus on the value you deliver.

Focusing on rivals

You must differentiate yourself, and your product or service, in memorable ways from your competitors, not simply offer a bunch of tepid comparisons. At the same time, don’t attack your rivals. That only makes you look bad to the customer.

Focusing on the ‘pain’

It has been argued that sales only come from finding the “pain” your prospective customer is suffering and getting the prospect to acknowledge that distress. But Mr. Gitomer says it is pleasurable things that build rapport and a good customer relationship.

Meeting the wrong person

Too often, sales reps meet with a prospect who is not the ultimate decision maker. This should never happen, because it’s a waste of your time, and theirs. It also can set up another blunder: trying to go over someone’s head to the real decision maker. “Too late,” he says. “You should have started higher in the first place.”

Using trite techniques

Sales representatives are taught to employ what are considered to be clever closing techniques to bring the sale to a successful conclusion. But Mr. Gitomer has a more jaundiced view: “Why would you use time-worn, awkward phrases that manipulate the customer and make everyone uncomfortable?”

Thinking you’re smarter than the customer

“Don’t flatter yourself,” warns Mr. Gitomer.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Harvey Schachter is a Battersea, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online work-life column Balance.

E-mail Harvey Schachter

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