How to Solve the 3 Biggest Problems That Salespeople Create

The biggest problems that salespeople create for themselves or their company boil down to not preparing and not understanding a prospect’s current circumstances. Here’s some good news: these problems can be solved!

Often, a salesperson tries to actively sell during a cold call - either premeditated or by getting swept up in the excitement of a potential sale. This is common when salespeople are unprepared, too eager to make a sale without listening to the prospect, or do not have confidence to walk a prospect through the complete sales process.

Over time, these shortcuts will affect conversations with clients, prevent company growth, and frustrate clients. If your company needs to reach more prospects or build better relationships with clients, consider how to solve the three biggest problems that salespeople create. 

Mistake #1: Salesperson Begins Selling Too Early

If a salesperson tries to sell their solution during a cold call, they have skipped the important discovery step. You cannot effectively pitch your solution before actually understanding what problem or opportunity the prospect is facing.

A cold call is to confirm fit and need, then sell next steps, not to sell the solution.

Before you can prescribe a solution, you need to first diagnose the problem. That means asking questions and leading the prospect through the discovery stage of the sales process. This should not be accomplished during the first call with prospect.

For example, if you approach a prospect wanting to sell a payroll software solution, you need to understand the company’s current circumstances.

  • Do they have a unique need or opportunity?
  • Is the company undergoing changes?
  • Will the company be expanding to a new market requiring a new payroll solution?

If a salesperson simply dials the phone without researching the company ahead of time, they will try to sell a solution that does not match what the company is facing.

Why is this a problem for salespeople? If you present your solution before understanding the problem, you will sell the wrong product because it does not meet the prospect’s actual need, or the scope of your solution will be too big or too small.

How do you solve this problem? The bottom line is - just don’t do it. But, if a salesperson is in the middle of a cold call and realizes they are pitching the solution, they should immediately back up.

It’s okay to take a step back and tell the prospect that it’s not appropriate to propose a solution at this time. A salesperson should place the burden on themselves by telling the prospect that they want a better understanding of the company, their needs, and what challenges or opportunities they are facing before presenting a solution.

But, if a salesperson pushes ahead with a solution that likely won't meet the prospect’s actual need, you run the risk of the prospect seeking a competitor to provide a better solution.

Salespeople should ask questions, understand the prospect’s needs and priorities, and sell next steps to continue the sales process. You want to be known as a company that takes the time to understand the prospect and their needs, which helps develop a good industry reputation to build long-lasting relationships.

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Mistake #2: Salesperson Does Not Research the Prospect Beforehand

If your sales team is simply picking up the phone and trying to wing a conversation with a prospect, they are missing opportunities to create sales.

By not researching a prospect well enough to understand their unique circumstances, salespeople create problems by not capturing the information they need for an effective sales meeting.

Why is this a problem for salespeople? Imagine a scenario where a salesperson does not research the company before making a call, prematurely tries to sell their solution to a prospect during a cold call, and the sales team walks into a sales meeting with very little information about the company. The sales meeting is not going to go well!

The company could be facing a major issue or opportunity in their industry, dealing with a pressing legal issue that is consuming top management, be the target of a hostile takeover, or negotiating the purchase of a rival.

If the sales team is not aware of these unique circumstances ahead of time, the sales team could be laughed out of the meeting. The result is:

  • Leaving opportunities on the table by not understanding the company’s broad picture.
  • Losing credibility with the prospect for future sales opportunities.
  • Losing credibility in the industry, affecting your overall reputation.

How do you solve this problem? Salespeople must do their research ahead of time. It might seem time-consuming or unnecessary, but it could be the difference between no growth and steady growth with potential to become an industry leader.

A salesperson should spend a few minutes researching the company before calling a prospect:

  • Take a quick look at the company homepage.
  • Do a quick search in Google News for the latest headlines.
  • Review notes from previous calls or conversations.

After completing the research, you should have a high-level understanding of how the company makes money and any recent company or industry news.

It is also worth noting that research does not mean you should try to sell during a cold call. Even if it is 100 percent clear that your company can provide a solution that meets the company’s need, resist the temptation to sell on the cold call.

A salesperson should still lead the prospect to the discovery step to unlock even more information about their current circumstances. This will eventually allow you to meet the prospect’s actual need or an even greater need.

Mistake #3: Salesperson Does Not Understand Prospect’s Role

As part of not doing research prior to a cold call, salespeople oftentimes do not understand the role of the person they are talking to.

Is the person on the other end of the line an influencer, decision-maker, or user?

Why is this a problem for salespeople? A salesperson will waste a lot of time by not understanding how the prospect is involved in the sales process. Once you advance past the cold call and discovery steps, the strategy used to complete a sale is different for each person in the company.

For example, a user is unlikely to be influenced by a pitch about your solution’s financial impact and Return on Investment (ROI). Rather, this person mostly wants to know how your solution will affect their work life - will it make life easier or more difficult?

The financial impact case should be presented to a decision-maker, likely in upper management, who is more concerned about the business impact of your solution.

Salespeople who regularly make this mistake will cost your company time and resources, plus potentially lose opportunities by selling to the wrong person.

How do you solve this problem? A salesperson should take time to understand the role of the person they are talking to.

If the prospect is not an influencer or decision-maker, a salesperson should ask to speak with someone else in the company who can better discuss purchasing and implementing the solution. But, you should still keep the person looped into the discussions to ensure they advocate for your solution internally.

A successful salesperson makes relationships throughout the organization and leverages these relationships to understand the internal politics of an organization. This also allows you to anticipate potential roadblocks in the decision process.

The biggest problems salespeople create can be solved!

After reading through our list, you should be thinking about one, two, or even three mistakes that are impacting your company.

Use our guide to start thinking about improvements that can be made to your sales team. Addressing the biggest problems that salespeople create will allow your team to have better conversations with prospects, have confidence to walk a prospect through the sales process, and create more sales opportunities for your company.

To learn more about how ProSales Connection can help your sales organization grow, you can contact me directly to have a conversation about your company’s specific needs!

Mike Faherty

Mike Faherty is the Founder & CEO of ProSales Connection, a sales and marketing firm based in Houston, Texas. ProSales Connection specializes in helping B2B and technology companies grow through sales appointment setting and outsourced inside sales programs.

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