The 5 Mistakes That Can Kill Your Sales (And How To Avoid Them)

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks
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5-mistakes-kill-sales-team.jpgI’ve spent the last several years helping companies transform their sales teams from analog to digital. During this time, I’ve seen companies become wildly successful in their digital efforts, and others crash, burn and waste tens of thousands of dollars.

If you’re part of a company looking to become more digital and want to avoid failure at all costs, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are the biggest mistakes I’ve seen within sales teams as they attempt to become more modern, and how to fix them.

1) Thinking the modern buyer hasn’t changed

The first mistake is a culture and mindset one. Sales professionals think that what made them successful last year will ultimately make them successful again this year.

Salespeople who don’t keep tabs on their buyers are losing them to competitors. By now we’ve all heard the stat, 74% of buyers chose the salesperson who was first to add value and insight. You can win your buyers first by having a strong social presence and sharing the right content at the right time.

Basically, you want to double down on activities that you empirically know are working, and eliminate what’s not.

2) Thinking social is a waste of reps’ time

It really comes back to that mindset of truly asking yourself about the buyer themselves. Take a moment, talk to your customers, find out what they’re reading, find out how they’re learning, find out who they connect to socially and the type of networking they’re doing on and offline.

If you think social is a waste of time, find out how the customer is learning. They might not even realize how they’re learning, but you really have to assume they’re learning the same way that you as a person learn how to buy a new home. How to buy a new car. How to buy baby clothes. You’re doing all of this stuff online. There’s no reason why the buyer wouldn’t do this in a business-to-business context.

3) Thinking social doesn’t have a measurable ROI

This is the single sales methodology or sales process that is definitively empirical, because everything can be tracked. It’s digital. It can be connected to tools such as CRM and marketing automation, and you know exactly what people like, what people don’t, what they’re reading, what they’re not, what they’re consuming.

If you need proof, here are some stats to prove it. Alternatively you can check out our social selling trends report.

– Top social sellers have 45% more opportunities per quarter than social selling laggards. (LinkedIn)

– Social sellers realize 66% greater quota attainment than those using traditional selling techniques. (Sales Benchmark Index)

– IBM increased their sales by 400% in one quarter thanks to their inbound social selling program. (IBM)

4) Thinking social is marketing’s job

Ask yourself, is marketing going to be with you in that discovery call? Is marketing going to help you craft that proposal? Is marketing going to help follow up on the call when the customer said, “Call me back in a week,” and it’s four weeks later and haven’t gotten back to you?

Do you think marketing knows anything about five major accounts in your very specific geographic territory? The answer is “No.”

Marketing’s role is to give you some contextual tools to share insights, to push that buyer to think differently. But they’re not going to be the ones that actually start the conversations that nurture the accounts.

This entire thing is a contact sport, and marketing’s not going to make those contacts, deep and wide, into accounts you go after.

You can’t use marketing as a crutch if they’re not going to produce these things, because marketing is just going to not participate. You still have quota. You still have to make your prospecting efforts.

5) Thinking you can thrive in the modern selling environment without sales tools

Tools are like an accelerant. At the end of the day, technically, I can start a fire with a magnifying glass and some dried leaves. It’s just going to take me a half an hour.

This is the analogy I always give my wife: We have a fire at the cottage every weekend. She gets frustrated with me why I use so much damn lighter fluid. It’s because I have two young kids that need to have marshmallows in 90 seconds.

LinkedIn’s latest State of Sales survey found that sales tools are used by nearly all (98%) top sales professionals.

Sales Navigator. Videos. Data intelligence. These are all just accelerants of an end result. Again, I can technically call anybody in the world without data intelligence. It’s just, instead of me taking a day to find the phone number, I’ll take 20 seconds.

Again these tools can’t be the crutch. I need to learn to do these skills manually and then accelerate them.

There’s much more to say about these mistakes, but the most important point is that staying analog in a digital world is the single biggest mistake you can make as a sales team today. Optimizing core competencies is important. However, at the end of the day, you must be where your buyer is learning.

What kind of mistakes are you making at your company? How can you correct them? Disruption in every industry is reorienting the rules of what it takes to be successful. The new sales ecosystem, built on a cluster of innovations, is the driving force behind the next generation of leading market performers.


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