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May 30, 2013

How to Avoid These Worst-Case Scenarios in Sales

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Anyone who works in sales knows that there are a lot of potential pitfalls – and they happen all the time. Avoid huge potential hitches by following these tips.

Don’t trust a verbal agreement.

While, according to this Forbes article, it’s not always legally required to have a written contract, it definitely serves as insurance. This is because a verbal agreement is completely impossible to prove, which means that it is very, very easy to lose a deal. The worst possible case, here, is if you’ve already communicated that it’s a done deal to the leadership team. Not true – not until you get it clearly in writing.

Getting your contract in writing will also avoid dealing with a shady situation if the person who made the verbal agreement on the other end is not qualified to make that call. What if they’re not the decision maker? Get in touch with someone who is, schedule that person in, and make sure the deal is set.

Always be prepared when you’re on the phone.

Anyone who has worked in sales and had to make cold calls has probably experienced this. If an hour goes by and you have yet to connect with someone, you’re probably hitting the call button over and over without really paying attention to the dial tone. And then – suddenly – someone picks up!

Rather than stammering at the speaker and trying to deliver your pitch with no warning, make sure you’re prepared. Know whom you are calling. Know why you are calling them. This means getting your research done beforehand, so that you’re able to start your chat with the reason for the call, and with some knowledge about the company you’ve got on the line.

Still caught off guard? Don’t sweat it – just be transparent. If you crack a joke and admit that you were caught off guard, many people on the other end – even high-status executives – will be willing to forgive and forget, and you may even get a laugh out of them.

Speaking of research…

If you think you are prepared to make the call and you are already halfway through your pitch, avoid being blindsided. The person on the other end will know if you have no idea what their company does, and they will be highly inclined to call you out on it. When you do make the call, the very least you can do is to give the client’s website a quick once-over beforehand. Better yet, keep the webpage open while you are on the phone so you can quickly refer to it in a pinch.

Working in sales is a challenging job, but with the right tools on your tool belt, you will be highly prepared to do your best and make sure all your potential clients are impressed.

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