Sales and marketing is hard for most of us. We hate telling people how awesome we are (marketing) and then asking for the sale is often even harder.

Once you add in all the mistakes we make while trying to market and sell, and the whole process becomes even harder and increases our chances of failure. Here are the top five mistakes I see people making with their sales process.

1. Not identifying proper fit

The most important thing you can do in your sales cycle is to determine that the person/company you’re talking to is a proper fit for your organization.

If they aren’t a prospect that’s going to recognize your value and trade you money for that value, then 100% of your time spent working with them is wasted.

You should be looking to see if they are your ideal client. You should only be working with with your ideal clients.

The earlier you are in your business career the more likely it is that you’re making this mistake. If you don’t have an ideal client profile sketched out, your risk of making this mistake is high.

Sit down and write out who your ideal client is and then evaluate each prospect you talk to against that profile.

2. Expecting a quick close

It’s going to take at least twice as long to close that sale as you think it will. Someone will go on vacation or an email will get buried on a particularly busy day.

Something will come up for the client in their business and that final document you’re waiting for won’t make it to you for 10 days beyond when you expected it.

Don’t run your budget/business around when you ‘think’ sales will come in. It’s always going to take longer than you think.

The larger the project is, the longer it will take to close. Where you were doing $800 projects and could close them in a day, expect it to take months to close that $80K project.

If there are multiple decision makers involved, it’s going to take longer to close the sale. It seems to me that about one week per decision maker is the minimum you need to add to your closing estimation.

3. Not following up

When that prospect says they won’t be ready for 6 months, you follow up in 6 months to see how things are going, right? If a decent prospect drops off the radar for a bit you keep emailing them every 4 weeks untill they say they’re not interested, right?

I was terrible at remembering to follow up with prospects until I started using Contactually. Now, with Contactually, I close more deals and leads that in the past, I would have simply forgotten about, now turn into paid projects.

You don’t have to use Contactually, but you need to use something reliable to help you follow up with prospects.

4. Following up with too many people

Most people who do remember to follow up are following up with way too many people. You don’t have 100 ‘best’ prospects — you have 10. It’s likely that at least one of those 10 is actually a marginal lead, not a ‘best’ lead.

Only put time into the 10 best leads you have in your pipeline or you’ll be guilty of the first mistake in sales, and easily fall into number 3 because you’ll be overwhelmed with time-wasting leads.

5. Selling too low

Are you actually talking to the decision maker for the business or are you talking to the person that’s vetting information to pass on? You better know that and sell appropriately.

In my initial email to qualify prospects, I ask who the decision makers are and won’t get on the phone unless I get to talk to all of them on the phone.

Missing the decision makers means you’re selling to the wrong person and likely missing much of what the real decision maker cares about.

photo credit: clement127 cc