As we launch our business and seek avenues to reach out to potential customers, I have been doing the rounds of research and information interviews with seasoned sales professionals.

Arising out of the copious notes I made for myself, was this list of “mistakes” that business owners / sales teams should avoid in growing their top line effectively.

Not prospecting enough: whether you are a business just launched or operating successfully for many years, you should always invest a few hours every day in generating an effective prospects list. This will ensure your pipeline has enough opportunities at all time to take care of your revenue needs.

Anyone is a prospect: as already mentioned in an earlier article in our blog, 92% of what you consider your target base does not really care about doing business with you. As business owners, you have to ensure you articulate crisp prospect-identifying criteria so that you concentrate your limited resources on a prospect base that is most likely to convert.

Low value leads: Just because a business owner has spent some time on a lead does not mean you have to get attached to it. Based on how the lead shapes up you should be quick enough to dump the lead if you do not see potential soon enough.

Speaking too fast: this is more important to note when you are on the telephone. Especially if you are leaving a voice mail. In this age of speed, people do not have the patience to replay messages. So, if they do not get your message the first time they hear it, you will be history.

Being late for a sales meeting: I cannot emphasize how important this is. You cannot take your prospect’s time for granted. You have to plan well to reach in time. When external events force a delay on you, reach out to your prospect immediately and let her know you will be late.

Not researching your prospect: in this information age, it is very easy to get to know your prospect even before you have met her. Researching your prospect well makes the prospect feel important (because you already know so much about them before your meeting). It also makes your life easy because you can identify how your products / services will help them in their overall goals. Last the research will also give you an insight into whether the prospect you are meeting is a decision maker, influencer or someone who has connection with what you wish to meet about.

Who is the “star”?: in the excitement of meeting the prospect, it is easy to forget who the star really is. It is not your company or its products or services. It is the prospect. And you should keep this front and centre when meeting one. The key issue to address is “what can your products or services do to minimize or do away with the prospect’s problems”.

Demonstrate: the best way to convince your customers is to use them to justify your claim of suitability to their needs.
Off the gun too soon: prospects will always give you clues into what is really important to them and will make a purchase only when convinced about the timing of their purchase. So, listen carefully to your prospect and do not push your widget before you sense they are convinced of the need to buy one.

Not asking enough questions: while initial research may provide insights into your prospect, only asking tough, penetrating questions will give you further insight into how best to position your product or service.
One size fits all: it is all too easy to standardize your pitch to make your life easy. But, every prospect is different and has slightly different needs. In today’s competitive scenario you have to adapt your pitch to every prospect you meet.

Competition: it is always easy to put down your competition. Acknowledge your competition and create a compelling argument as to why you are better than them.
HandshakeNo repetition: it has been proven in science that spaced repetition enhances the retention of what is being repeated. Your sales message must be articulated several times during a conversation with a prospect. This will ensure that your message stays with the prospect well after you have left the meeting.

Not seeking a closing commitment: every conversation with a prospect must end with some form of a commitment. Even if it means saying, “I will connect with you in ___ weeks”. Gain some commitment to the next steps at the end of the conversation.

I hope this has been useful. As you continue to build your top line, it would be interesting to hear from you on some of the mistakes sales teams and business owners should avoid.