Clotaire Rapaille's Top 10 Selling MistakesThe September 29 issue of Fortune provides a handy list of the top 10 mistakes salespeople make, as outlined by consultant Clotaire Rapaille. Though he expresses himself in the florid style that gives business writing a bad name, Rapaille provides ample food for thought.
The list (liberally paraphrased):
- Not feeling the customer's pain Relate what you have to offer to something that is making your prospect distinctly unhappy.
- Making money the goal Take a professional view of your job, i.e., make your primary goal meeting customer needs, not raking in commissions. The commissions will come as an outgrowth of genuinely exerting yourself to address customers' interests.
- Seeing sales as just a job Don't rest on your laurels; keep working toward closing new deals.
- Getting upset Generally speaking, you shouldn't take "No" as the prospect's final answer.
- Failing to prepare Anticipate what the prospect will say, and have relevant responses ready.
- Over-preparing In order to be ready to improvise smoothly, mentally rehearse various scenarios that could unfold during your sales call. This will get you ready to have a productive conversation (as opposed to unloading a more or less robotic spiel).
- Depending on customers' rationality to persuade You need to assess what sort of sales pitch a particular prospect will find persuasive. (Rapaille overgeneralizes, claiming that "America is essentially adolescent" and, therefore, that it's a mistake to treat American customers like adults, interested in rational sales pitches.)
- Acting phony Imagine yourself into a frame of mind in which you truly believe in what you are selling. If you have to pretend to believe in your product, your lack of conviction will undermine your efforts.
- Neglecting the relationship Reach out to your customers, making thoughtful gestures that will reinforce their opinion that you're a likeable person who thinks of them even when a potential sale is not immediately in the offing.
- Not appealing to basic drives Rapaille is speaking here of the survival and sex drives. For some reason, probably his own desire to outdo his competition, he refers to these drives as "reptilian." If you merely think of them as essential parts of our animal nature, you'll still get the point that you should include appeals to people's basic instincts in your dialogue with them. (You should usually find that there is no need to be crass about this.)