We all make mistakes, and there isn’t a salesperson alive who can say otherwise. Most sales mistakes prove minor in the long run, but nonetheless, they can be embarrassing and painful. When you really drop the ball, you may even find your job in jeopardy. Have you ever done something that lost the company serious money, or worse, a client or potential client? If so, you know where I’m coming from. If not, you may have seen it happen to someone else, or worry it might happen to you.
It’s good to worry a little, because most such errors have one thing in common: poor preparation. After a few months or years of interacting with clients, landing new accounts, and exceeding expectations, it’s human nature to cut yourself some slack. But if you let your guard drop too far, you leave yourself open to careless mistakes that can make you and your team look bad, damaging your reputation with leaders and clients alike.
Too busy to prepare
Take Brooke, a busy sales rep for a medical software company who was tasked with making a sales pitch to the executives of a particular hospital group. Having done so successfully many times, she just skimmed the potential client’s requirements, and put off her due diligence. Normally, she would have researched the client on the internet and closely examined the LinkedIn profiles of the client’s officers. But because she was spending so much time prospecting for new clients, she just loaded up the standard presentation that had worked well for her in the past and made no special preparations.
Because of that, she didn’t really understand that the company, while U.S.-based, operated mostly in Canada, serving patients who depended on Canada’s socialized healthcare system — a much different business model than the generalized American one, where self-pay, insurance, Medicare, and military benefits all have their place. Moreover, the program had to be able to handle both of Canada’s official languages, English and French.
To make things worse, it turned out that her software had recently updated. She hadn’t checked the new version, so the presentation was a bit glitchy. Her proposal failed to address the client’s specific needs. When it was over, she couldn’t answer some of the client’s questions, since she hadn’t thoroughly learned the business. Brooke promised to get back to the company with answers and a better, more appropriate presentation in a second meeting, but the Board members were visibly disappointed and irritated with her poor performance.
A hard lesson learned
“We all make mistakes, and there isn’t a salesperson alive who can say otherwise.”