Whether you are the owner doing the selling for your company or a full-time MSP salesperson, chances are you might have a few bad habits that are costing you in productivity or revenue. Once you understand what these are, you can correct them and improve your sales results.
Now, for many people, “sales” is a dirty word. If you want more revenue, you must go out and drum up sales; that’s a fact. And yet many salespeople don’t like to appear needy.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just wave a magic wand and have leads flocking to us? But we’re not living in a Harry Potter world; there’s no sales magic wand. If you want a robust sales pipeline, you must work for it.
You may be thinking, “But Jennifer, I try to get more cybersecurity sales, but I can’t force other people to buy from me.” That’s true, you can’t control other people. But you can control what YOU do, including changing habits that may be holding you back.
In fact, I’ve seen IT salespeople making so many mistakes that I couldn’t even fit them into one blog post. So, this is part 1 of 2. In this article, I’ll go through bad habits 1-6, and in next month’s post, we’ll continue with habits 7-12.
Do Any Of These Bad Habits Look Familiar?
1. Thinking Salespeople Are “Sleazy”
Do you feel slimy or sleazy when you call or email a prospect? This is a bad mindset because it’s going to come through in how you interact with leads.
You may be afraid to ask for the sale. Or you may rush through a pitch, apologizing for even asking. You need to get over this.
Change your frame of mind to realizing how grateful a customer will be when you reduce their risk or bring an Incident Response plan to the table – helping them through the very difficult reality of a breach. Sales is about helping people, and that’s not sleazy.
Good salespeople simply want to help the prospect. They constantly ask themselves: how does my service, my cybersecurity offering, my compliance offering, my managed service offering… how does that service help my prospect? They don’t discount or dislike the title “salesperson,” and they are a student of sales.
2. Internalizing Things You Can’t Control
Do you get demoralized when a prospect won’t return your calls or emails? Do you take that non-response personally? This bad habit can hold you back and ruin your day because you’re trying to control things you can’t. It can also cause you to throw in the towel that day and move to a non-sales activity. And while that non-sales activity (like cleaning your desk or checking email) might give you the feeling of accomplishing something, it isn’t going to help your bottom line.
Just because a prospect doesn’t yet see the value of your service doesn’t mean they won’t see it later. It certainly doesn’t mean they don’t like you or your company. There are a million reasons a prospect isn’t biting or returning your calls – and 99.9% of them have NOTHING to do with you!
Focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t, and stop taking what you can’t control personally. When zero people answer the phone, which is something you can’t control, at least leave a pleasant message, which is something that you can control.
3. Not Having A Consistent Prospecting Process
Do you only start to prospect when money is tight? And when business is going well, you don’t bother? This is a vicious cycle that keeps you in sales survival mode.
You need to have a consistent prospecting process that is repeated week in and week out. When times are good and when times are bad. Consistency is one of the secrets of successful salespeople.
Their morning routine, how many dials they make per day or week, how many business cards they drop off, and how many prospecting calls they have. They are freakishly focused on these habits and have built a process to help them do them as efficiently as possible.
4. Failing To Track What Works & What Doesn’t
If you’re not tracking which sales pitches or marketing emails work and which don’t, it’s like you’re swimming against the tide. How can you improve your lead conversion rate if you don’t analyze which tactics drive the most sales?
When you track what works and what doesn’t, guess what? You can also close more sales in less time… because you’re doing less of what doesn’t work and more of what does.
Use a spreadsheet or sales app to track things like your message, the number of prospect touches, how you’re connecting (email, phone, etc.), and time from lead to sale. Look at these numbers at least monthly and you’ll start to see a pattern you can follow.
5. Neglecting Networking
Many MSP business owners don’t consider themselves a “people person.” But even introverts can be great salespeople. This bad habit greatly limits the net you can cast for new prospects. If you’re not out there meeting people, how are you going to grow your business?
This is one of the biggest challenges I see in the IT industry: too many salespeople (especially owners) never leave their office. They don’t know anyone in their community; they’re the best kept secret in their town. When a business starts to think about changing managed service providers, they will never consider a company they’ve never heard of.
Networking doesn’t mean you have to be the life of the party. The best salespeople are connectors. They are religious about meeting new people, exploring collaboration opportunities, forming relationships, and getting to know people in their space, and outside of their space.
One thing that was true in 1985 that’s still true today, is that people buy from people they like. And so, I always encourage my clients to say yes to meetings. Someone wants to meet for coffee - Yes. Someone wants to meet to explore collaboration opportunities - Yes. Someone wants to meet to learn more about you and your company – Yes.
Why should you be connecting to these people? Because relationships are absolute gold. Plus, you never know where a new prospect will come from. It could be the nice woman you sat next to in the waiting room at your dentist’s office or that salesperson trying to sell you something.
6. Not Being Completely Authentic
A bad habit of unsuccessful salespeople is that they are inauthentic. They try to force themselves into someone else’s mold, someone else’s script. They sometimes even try to be someone else, which is absolutely exhausting, but they do it anyway.
I always encourage my clients to be their authentic selves. Yes, you can use a helpful script or framework, but make it your own. I want you to sell the way that you want to sell as long as you’re making the sale and it’s in the best interest of the client or the prospect.
Authenticity (and inauthenticity) is as plain as day to the prospect you’re talking to. If you want to build trust (which is a main driver of sales decisions), then you need to be yourself.
Final Thoughts On The Costly Mistakes Salespeople Make
Self-improvement can be a challenge, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Take an honest look at your sales process and determine what can be improved. Continuous improvement isn’t just something to talk about in your Quarterly Business Reviews – it’s for you and your sales process too!