Many salespeople and sales executives, especially sales executives, believe that the costliest mistake in selling is losing the sale. That’s not quite accurate; the bigger mistake in selling is taking a long time to lose a sale that you should not have lost. I‘d say the costliest mistake in selling is learning nothing from the experience.
A professional salesperson should never feel good about a losing an opportunity to help a customer. But even the most honest and professional salespeople will sometimes lose a sale. What makes them so successful is that they rarely if ever lose a sale they could have earned.
The average sales cycle across all industries is changing and much of it now happens out of the site of the salesperson. Most customers have done at least some research online before reaching out to a salesperson. In business to business selling many of the purchasing decisions are becoming more complicated. They are driven not by price alone but by brand, service, timing and tax considerations as well. That takes much of the decision away from a single buyer and leads to more “committee” type decisions. That takes longer.
There are lots of challenges with a longer sales cycle. There are usually more people involved. There are more objections to overcome. Second chances are provided to competitors. The good news is that most of those challenges can be overcome by effective information gathering. The longer the sales cycle, the more influence required to earn the business. Influence in sales comes directly from information.
Do you influence your prospect’s and customer’s decisions or stand on the sidelines and observe from a distance? Are you in the deal, making a difference for your customer, your organization and yourself? Do you have the information needed to do that?
Are you selling products and services or showing them? To really sell requires influence. That can only come from taking the time to understand your customer’s true wants and needs and most importantly, why the need exists.
You should have no problem with a longer sales cycle, so long as it leads to a sale. Your challenge today is that it can take just as much time and effort to lose a sale as it does to earn the business.
When you invest your time with a customer make sure it counts. Ask the tough questions and get the information that leads to influence and the sale.
Don’t commit a too common mistake in selling, using your time to watch a competitor take away your business and your income.