Sales is a crucial part of running any business. Let’s revise that — sales is a crucial part of any successful business. If you don’t want to run a successful business then by all means forget about marketing and sales. You don’t need to do them if your goal is failure (or at best, mediocrity).

Since that’s not your goal, here are 4 ways many business owners sabotage their sales. Avoid these and you’ll increase your chances of success.

1. Let the prospect lead the process.

The first and biggest mistake many business owners make when they get a sales lead is to let the client lead the process. This is most apparent in an RFP process where you get a 20-page document with all the requirements and based off that writing you need to send in a proposal to do the work.

The first step in fixing this issue is don’t do RFPs. I send any RFP an email that says I don’t do RFPs because there’s clearly already a preferred provider and it’s not me so I’m not wasting my time.

If it’s not an RFP, then it’s still up to you to drive the process. You should be asking the client a set of questions via email based on their contact. Once those are answered it’s time to get on the phone with them and talk about why they are doing the project. Talk about the benefit to their business. What are they going to miss if they don’t do it? What roadblocks may come up during the project?

The point is that you should have a process and spend the time to investigate the needs of your client. You’re the expert in your field and should know what questions to ask, so do it.

2. Rush to send the proposal.

A second big mistake is that many business owners rush to send that proposal. This is out of some fear that if they don’t send it on the first day they hear from the prospect they’ll never see another prospect again and end up living in a fridge box.

The solution is similar to the solution to the first problem — slow down and have a process. Stick to your process and if a prospect has some rushed work you can’t investigate properly, pass on it. There will be another project coming along.

A proposal should be a summary of all the things you’ve agreed on as you’ve built a relationship. The only thing it adds is a price and timeline to the goals you’ve worked out with the prospect. To get that agreement you need time.

Build a sales process and stick to it.

3. Don’t listen to the prospect.

The whole point of your process is to hear what the pain of your prospect is and solve that pain for them. Unfortunately far too many business owners hear the pain, but don’t hear it at all. The only part they really hear is that the prospect has money and their business has some solution that is mostly related.

[Tweet “Process helps you hear the pain of your prospect and solve that pain for them.”]

This is a trap of wanting money, which I get because my bank account isn’t full either.

Just like the two problems above, the solution is to have a process and to be willing to say no to a prospect. You need to tell a prospect if you think there is a better solution to their problem than you can provide. You can only do that if you’ve really listened to them and have put yourself in their shoes. Your job is to help them make the best decision for their business, not decide to put money in your pocket.

4. Go in to technical details.

Guess what? Your prospect doesn’t care about some new technology you are totally fascinated with. What they want is to solve a problem in their business and make more money, or save more money. Either way, they want their profit to go up and you’re the tool they’re leveraging for that.

Skip the technical details as much as possible in the sales process. If the client keeps digging into them, figure out what their fear is. Maybe the last person they worked with left them high and dry with a solution not compatible with anything, so they’re trying to figure out if you’re going to do the same thing.

You should only give them enough technical detail to calm their fears. Anything more and you’re sabotaging the sale. Focus on what the benefit is for their business and how you’re going to get it to the next level.

If you can focus on not making these 4 mistakes in your sales process you’re going to land more clients. That means you’ll have a better business where you can get to the work you love and not chase prospects all day.

photo credit: jonas_wide cc