Everyone makes mistakes when selling. Particularly when you’re a B2B startup pitching to established business owners and CEOs. These folks have forgotten more about business than they likely remember.
With that in mind, you absolutely need to have your ducks in a row before you even think about asking for a meeting. Sure, you’re going to make mistakes, and (hopefully) learn from them and get better with each outing. But there are some mistakes that you just won’t bounce back from, which can hurt your reputation irrevocably.
Here’s 5 sales meeting blunders no B2B startup can afford to make:
1. Lacking research leading into the meeting
CEOs don’t have time to listen to a bunch of chatter from a salesperson who doesn’t come to the meeting prepared. It’s one thing to have a flair for conversation on the golf course, it’s another one entirely to know HOW to talk to busy B2B sales prospects.
Having the fundamentals about the company you’re pitching is key to success. You’ll have to ask lots of questions, but asking things like “What industry are you currently focused on?” or “What kind of clients do you service” is a clear path to rejection.
Learn as much as you can beforehand, to save time and impress prospects with your preparedness.
2. Allowing the prospect to lead the meeting
Avoiding this pitfall is easier said than done, but it’s an essential skill you must learn, to attract as much success as possible throughout your career. You’re the one demanding THEIR time and attention, and it’s up to YOU to keep them engaged.
You will face unruly narcissists from time to time, and only experience and good social skills will teach you how to overcome their dominance. If a prospect stops listening and starts talking, you’ve sadly lost the battle.
The rest of the CEOs you deal with can be controlled by asking them smart questions about their business goals, issues standing in the way of those objectives, and by positioning yourself as a solution to their needs with expert knowledge and offering a great value proposition.
3. Sharing irrelevant information during the meeting
How many ways can you bring your spouse, kids, or dog into a conversation where you’re supposed to be selling your B2B service? Salespeople who don’t keep the focus on the issue at hand tend to do so because they lack confidence in their product, and smart CEOs will smell this from a mile away.
You can’t sell ice to Eskimos talking about whale blubber — all they’ll be able to think about is getting their hands on some delicious Muktuk! Same goes for talking about your personality traits (like “Gee, I’m so smart, you know.”)
Keep on track. Ask leading questions about the prospect’s business, and positioning yourself as a solution to what ails them by espousing the benefits of your service.
4. Avoiding asking for the sale
If you’ve made any of the blunders listed so far, they’ll very likely laugh you out of the room when you do! However, only a fool leaves a sales meeting without asking for a commitment.
- Ask for the sale.
- If they say “no” ask why.
- If they tell you they’re just not sure right now, ask when you can follow up.
- If they offer objections, you need to do your best to reverse those objections.
A great salesman once said “It’s your obligation to ask for the sale, after taking up so much of their time probing for data and assessing their needs.” If you know your product can help them, you’re doing them (and you) a disservice by walking out of the room without doing so.
5. Getting too comfortable with your sales successes
In other words, tossing prospecting aside and sitting on your laurels. Riding the wave of current customers and expecting a word-of-mouth snowball effect that may never come.
Referral rates rarely get to the point where any business, particularly B2B services, can be considered sustainable. And, why would any startup or established service business be content with “maintaining” anyway?
Even if things are going great, you need to pencil in time each week to work on prospecting — cold calling, setting up sales meetings, meeting with prospective clients.
The best of the best make mistakes from time to time, even on a regular basis. Avoid these 5 disastrous blunders and you’ll close more deals, and be able to recover more quickly when you do falter.