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Small business sales mistakes — we’ve all made them.

Some sales mistakes are more common than others. But as you look to improve your company’s sales strategies, here are 10 common sales mistakes every small business should avoid.

10. Not qualifying a potential appointment before you commit to going on it.

I often hear people say, “I’ll go on the sales appointment, and if I can get in front of them I will have a better chance of closing the sale.” I understand the logic, but you also have a better chance of wasting a lot of time on nothing but an opportunity that has an even higher chance of going nowhere.

9. Not embracing the power of silence.

Silence is an important tool in business negotiation.

It is powerful because most people are so uncomfortable with it that they will speak up before allowing the prospect to answer.

When you ask a question, allow your prospect the time to think about their answer. If you don’t, you have lost control of the conversation and more importantly, some people need time to think before answering. For those people, you have interrupted their train of thought. Stop talking!

8. Not uncovering clear next steps.

When you or your sales team goes on sales appointments do you ask: What’s the next step? Great if you do, but there is more to it than that.

For example, if you ask a potential buyer, “If I come back with a sales proposal you like, what will happen next?” (Good question by the way) and they say, “We’ll move forward,” you would probably assume that means sign the deal. But are you sure?

Move forward could mean a lot of things so make sure you understand specifically what “move forward” means. Don’t assume it means ‘sign the deal’ without clarifying because we all know what happens when we assume.

7. Creating a sales proposal before understanding the necessary content.

I am amazed by how many salespeople still do the — show up, run through a few questions and ask for the “privilege” to come back with a sales proposal.

What exactly are you proposing? Don ‘t get caught up in the “if I can show them all the great things we do they will buy” syndrome. A customer will buy what is relevant to them and only then will you get the sale.

6. Not utilizing relationships.

If you have built relationships within your community don’t be afraid to use those relationships to form alliances and gain introductions to potential prospects. People that can vouch for you to a new prospect can enhance your social proof and get you in the door much faster than a cold call.

5. Defending your product or service.

If someone asks why you did something or why your organization made a particular decision, don’t defend the decision. Instead say, “Why do you ask?” Don’t assume you know all of the answers. You can easily get yourself if deep trouble that way.

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