Over-researching your prospects
Researching prospects is absolutely a best practice. Research gives you insight into whether or not they’re qualified buyers for your product or service, arms you with potential ice-breakers and rapport-builders to start your sales conversation, and helps you identify similar ideal profiles among your existing customer base.
But it’s not a good idea to step into your initial conversations with a prospect thinking you know them, or their business, inside and out. Coming into a conversation with that mindset downgrades your ability to listen deeply to how your prospect answers your discovery questions, and can make you come across as presumptuous to your prospect.
Endless qualifying of your prospects with calls or emails
Particularly if you’re selling to small businesses, at some point your prospects just want all the information they need to make an informed decision.
Hiding pricing information, requiring a qualifying phone call with a sales development representative prior to getting a full demo, or requiring firmographic information about their company just to get into your sales pipeline are all things that can turn off buyers. Let your prospects qualify or disqualify themselves earlier rather than later in the process.
Badmouthing your competition
In certain situations, a prospect may ask you how you compare to one of your competitors. And of course you should come into the call with at least a mental “battlecard” of where your solution is superior.
But don’t bring up your competition proactively — if anything, it might encourage your prospect to take a second (or worse, a first) look at a company to whom you’re most at risk of losing business. And presenting your competition in a particularly negative light runs the risk of making you look desperate or unprofessional.
Threatening your prospects
Speaking of desperation and looking unprofessional, threatening your prospects is never a good look. Implying or stating that you’ll simply go around the person you’re speaking with to get what you want, or that you’ll offer the deal to their competition if they don’t sign, are two techniques that are unlikely to yield a positive outcome. Creating a sense of urgency does not mean holding your prospect hostage.
There’s a fine line between a good sales pitch and setting your customer up for disappointment (and possible early cancellation of their deal). Instead of promising the sun and the moon, be realistic about what your product or service can deliver, and if you can, back it up with data and experiences from similar customers.
Closing Too Early
Knowing when to close is a sixth sense that you’ll continue to refine over time as you are part of more and more deals. But it’s rarely the case that your prospect will be ready to sign on the dotted line on the same call that you’re going through your discovery questions.
Allow your conversation to take a more natural course where you can understand their pain points and specifically address those pain points before attempting to close the deal.
Not Asking for What You Want
The flip side to closing too early is not actually closing — not asking for the deal at the right time. If your prospect has demonstrated that they understand your solution, that they’re qualified for your solution, and that they have the power to purchase, going with one of the closing strategies in the previous section — particularly the Question Close or the Summary Close is how you’ll actually land the prospect as a customer.