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Saturday, November 15, 2014

(SALES) The Biggest Mistake In Selling


Who doesn?t appreciate good service at a restaurant? When I experience good service I tip generously. My wife and kids think my ?criteria? for good service is a little goofy, but it works for me. Here it is: If you fill my water glass without me asking, you instantly earn a 25 percent or better tip. If you fill my water glass when I ask, you?re most likely to get the standard 15-20 percent. If you don?t fill my water glass, even after I?ve asked, you?re not likely getting a tip from me.

Admittedly it?s not a perfect system of grading, but when dining out, little things like attentiveness to water determine the overall experience. Similarly, when grading gas station/convenience centers, women generally use the ?cleanliness of the bathroom? as the grading scale.

Do you have ?expectations? or a system for judging the performance of others? When it comes to restaurants, I don?t have a meeting with the server and reveal my expectations -- I generally expect them to be universal standards.

For Managers?

As a sales manager it?s absolutely critical to identify the expectations you have for your team and the specific criteria with which you will be judging their performance. It is in everyone?s best interest if expectations are clear, measurable, and achievable. How can sellers do a good job if they don?t know what a ?good job? is in the mind of their manager?

When coaching managers, the topic of seller performance frequently comes up. It?s usually a source of frustration for the manager. My first question is always, ?Do your sellers know exactly what you expect of them?? I usually follow up by asking if the manager has had an honest conversation with the seller about missing those expectations.

For Sellers?

The biggest mistake sellers make is failure to identify and set client expectations. As a sales rep, your clients are not likely to tell you up front how you are going to be judged. Similar to my approach with service in a restaurant, clients have a set of criteria they believe are universal for determining how your performance as a seller, will be judged.

Some universal expectations that we all must adhere to:

? Do what you say you are going to do.
? Show up for meetings on time.
? Be prepared for meetings.
? Provide value beyond your product.
? Demonstrate that you care about the client.
? Show appreciation for the business relationship.

Those are the ?no brainers.? Finding hidden expectations will take courage and a little more work on your part. The end of the year is a great time to have ?evaluation? meetings with your clients. By asking the right questions, you will be able to understand how you have been judged, and more importantly how you will be judged going forward. Here are some questions to get you started:

1. In what areas have I exceeded your expectations this year?
2. Are there any areas where I have disappointed you?
3. As we look to next year, are there things you would like me to do more of?
4. Anything you hope I?ll never do again?

It?s important before ANY sale is made that you ask your client these two very important questions:

1. How will we know if this is working?
2. What does success look like regarding this solution?

We?ve developed a Platinum Service Plan to help you identify some areas you can exceed the expectations of your clients. If you would like a copy, send me an email.

When you sell a product or service to a client, they have certain expectations of performance, similar to my water criteria at a restaurant. In order to meet and exceed those expectations, it?s critical to know what they are.

Jeff Schmidt is EVP and Partner at Sparque, Inc. You can reach Jeff at

Twitter: @JeffreyASchmidt

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