“Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.” — Jake, “Adventure Time Cartoon”

The past few months we conducted several training and coaching workshops with sales teams on how to improve the outcomes of calls and meetings with clients and prospects. These workshops typically involve audio, and video role-play simulations so salespeople can hear things they say during prospect and customer calls.

I’ve summarized seven common things heard during the workshops that salespeople should not say:

“Let me talk to my Boss” — Once you say this, you’ve lost negotiating power, as customers these days will say, “let me talk to your boss.” A better approach might be to “Let me take some time to think about it,” or “Let me put pen to paper, and I’ll get back to you.”

“Great” — Most salespeople are getting better at asking questions. Too often, we hear salespeople ask an open-ended question like “what business challenges are you facing currently?” The customer responds, and then the salesperson says “Great.” Well, it might be great for your company that has a solution to the challenge, but the customer doesn’t want to hear that their problem is great. A better approach is to acknowledge your understanding, maybe even use a follow-up question to explore the challenge further.

“Oh, I can discount that for you.” Or, “we can take something off our price.” — If a salesperson uses these words, you’ve started negotiations that can only go one way, and that is down to the basement regarding price. Price objections are good signs of buyer interest that if managed well, can lead to substantial gains in revenue and profit. If your organization doesn’t use a defined negotiation strategy framework, such as one fromThink! Inc. , your organization should consider adopting one.

“Thanks for letting me come in today” — Salespeople may work for months to get an appointment with a decision maker or influencer in a top prospect account, and using this sentence de-platforms the salesperson completely, by implying the customer is doing the salesperson a favor. A better approach would be to say ‘I’m glad we were able to make this meeting happen today.” Salespeople are in the driver’s seat for initial calls, so they shouldn’t give it up.

“Let me put some thoughts together (or the proposal) and then get back to you by Friday. Is it ok if I call you sometime next week to follow-up? — If you are talking with a customer or prospect and you need to follow-up for feedback, or get a response to a proposal, the salesperson must calendar the follow-up appointment before getting off the phone or leaving the meeting. If the prospect won’t commit to the next meeting, that’s a sign you don’t have a deal.

“Talking bad about a competitor. “ Any negative comments about a competitor, even if the comments are true can damage a salesperson’s credibility. Three risks when talking bad about a competitor: a) It’s a sign that you fear them, b) It’s a very small world out there, and you may be insulting someone the customer knows and respects, personally, and, c) You’ve probably lied (or embellished some facts!).

“What keeps you up at night?” — This is old, lazy and cliché. A better approach might be, “Which business priorities are the most challenging at the moment?”

Salespeople are in “hand-to-hand” combat with competitors, so they must be precise on what they say throughout the sales process.

Training and coaching can be effective to improving salesperson performance, so make sure your planning the right level of investment for 2019 to keep your teams sharp!

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