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These blunders can cause your business to lose sales, customers, and revenue

David Fuller

Last week, Natalie walked into a sports store to buy a swim cap. She found the caps in the store, and a young man, the ‘salesperson’ on duty, walked over and asked, “Can I help you?”

She told me she said, “Yes, I need a swim cap,” as she stood looking at the rack of swim caps.

The ‘salesperson’ then proceeded to tell her that their most popular cap was out of stock and that he didn’t know if any of the other 10 varieties would work for her before walking off.

Natalie stood dumbfounded and then decided to leave the store.

As she told me later, she would have bought anything swim-related that day – swimsuit, goggles, towel, swim buoy, even flippers – if only the ‘salesperson’ had cared.

Sales business


What went wrong?

Here was a customer who went to a business with the specific goal of buying something and spending her hard-earned money. Yet she walked out of the store without spending any of the hundreds of dollars she was prepared to spend.

How often does that happen?

It happens more often than it should, and the reasons are fivefold.

We fail to care

So often, we get salespeople who don’t really care if they make a sale. They fail to understand how important their job is to the success of the business and the satisfaction of the customer.

They often don’t care to see each customer as a unique person with a life outside this relationship. Instead, they see the customer as an interference, an inconvenience, a challenge. When this mentality starts to breed within our organizations, we’re in for trouble.

We don’t train

Even if we have the right people, we don’t train them in sales. Many businesses don’t spend the time, money or energy to properly onboard their staff and teach them the fundamentals of sales.

The young man who served Natalie probably applied for a sales job without any understanding of what it meant.

We expect our staff to instinctively know how to sell things, so we fail to train them or test them.

We need to figure out what works

If we have a sales process, we fail to document it and script it for our sales team.

If we’ve been in business for a while, there’s a process that our customers go through in deciding to buy from us. Engaging them along that process and helping them make a decision can be scripted and anticipated.

Documenting and teaching this process can be huge for increasing our sales.

We fail to understand why

There are 100 simple questions that are better than “Can I help you?”

When scripted or taught, any of these better questions can help us understand why a prospect has reached out to us.

Without understanding their why, we will rarely be able to provide the right solution. Unless we can solve the pain or pleasure need of the customer, they’ll find someone who can, and we’ll lose a sale.

We fail to measure

Have you ever gone into a business and were asked at the till if you were helped?

Say “No” sometimes and see what happens. Usually, the person just says “Oh” and moves on to the next question: “Would we like a bag?”

Without measuring what’s happening in the sales process, we’re doing our business and our customers a disservice.

It is important to track the conversion rates of people who contact us. We need to understand where we’re failing and determine where we can make changes in the sales process that will give the customer what they contacted us for and drive sales.

Natalie’s failure to buy a swim cap might seem trivial. But without understanding how to sell (and we all sell something, whether it’s goods, services, solutions, religion, education, ideas, or even love), we become frustrated and unsuccessful in fulfilling our purpose.

We’d likely be better people if we started teaching sales skills in school with the anticipation that better questioning might just lead to a better society!

Dave Fuller is a Commercial and Business Realtor, an award-winning business coach, and business author.

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