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5 Common Mistakes Inside Sales Reps Make and How to Avoid Them

Posted by Francine Haliva on Jul 22, 2015 7:32:00 AM

At first glance, inside sales reps have never had it so good.  Companies are spending more and more on advanced technology, training and interactive sales tools for their sales teams to meet the growing demand from customers that expect a fast, accurate and personal customer experience. 

But if we take a closer look, we see that even the best laid plans don't always account for the main culprit that plagues every inside sales organization - human error.  Often it is the slightest slip, such as entering a wrong code or interrupting a customer, that will prompt even loyal customers to take their business elsewhere.  And although not all mistakes are apparent to your customers, that doesn't mean that these errors are any less damaging to your company.

Whether big or small, errors can lead to repercussions that negatively impact profit, resources and the overall workflow of an organization. They undercut quality, compliance and customer service. They create waste in otherwise useful systems and counteract the return on investment from training, processes and procedures.   Not to mention that these days, customers are able to share your mistakes on social media - quickly broadcasting your embarrassing slip-up around the world with the potential to permanently damage your brand and reputation in a matter of minutes.

So let's take a look at five common and costly mistakes sales reps make and which methods and/or technology solutions will help prevent these errors and add value to your sales processes:

1.       Failing to understand customer needs

One of the most unforgiving errors is failing to understand your customers' needs. This most basic, but surprisingly elusive, information is essential to the success of any product or service offering.

How to fix it:  Try to put yourself in their shoes and look at your business from their point of view.  Prior to the call, collect and analyze data in order to shed light on their buying behavior. Customer relationship management systems (CRM) holds valuable information about your customers that will help you to understand their needs and determine which offerings would most appeal to them.  Caught off guard? No problem.  Performance support solutions (EPSS) provide sales reps with real-time guidance and next-best-action sales recommendations.  It identifies sales opportunities by analyzing the customer profile and eligibility for possible promotions or sales campaigns while the call takes place.

2.       Not listening carefully

It seems simple: The better your sales reps’ listening skills, the better their sales conversations will be, and the more deals they’ll win.  While it might seem obvious that listening to the customer should be the focus of a sales call, it is harder than it appears.  During a call, a sales rep is thinking about: The points he/she needs to make, how to show value, to not waste their time, enter information into the system, make the sale, move on to the next prospect and reach quota - just to name a few.

How to fix it: Your customers want to feel that you have a real interest in them.   They need to trust that your company will be there for them and that your product will do what you say it will do and what they want it to do.  Therefore, it is important to train your sales agents to listen sincerely, earn that trust, hear their pain and then show them the solution.  

Concerned about training costs? Read this blog post: Losing Money on Employee Training? Performance Support to the Rescue

3.       Entering the wrong information

"To err is human" (Alexander Pope) and even your most experienced sales rep is going to make errors. Unfortunately, these errors can sometimes come at a high price, especially if you consistently notice similar errors by multiple users.

How to fix it: Performance support systems identify errors in real-time, based on pre-defined rules.  It alerts the user and then guides them through the correct task completion, preventing costly errors.

4.       Keeping customers waiting

The most common customer complaint is being kept waiting. Long wait times can wreak havoc on your bottom line.  If you are constantly putting people on hold for excessive amounts of time then be prepared to deal with irritated customers or hang ups.

How to fix it: Closing a deal is all about having the right information at the right place at the right time.  Providing your sales reps with access to knowledge management systems allows them to quickly and easily find answers to customers' concerns and frequently asked questions.  Taking this one step further, performance support solutions empower sales reps with in context, process guidance that adapts to the actual conversation so they can offer the best solution and seal the deal faster.

5.       Asking for the repeat information

Needing to ask for (and rekey) the same information repeatedly is frustrating for both the sales rep and the customer.   Best case scenario, the customer gets annoyed; worst case scenario, they lose patience and end the call.

How to fix it: Automation software enables an end-to-end, seamless business process, and allow the sales rep to concentrate on customer rather than the system. Manual tasks such as navigating multiple screens, updating data, and documenting interactions are performed automatically, cutting down on handling time and improving customer service.

If you liked this post than you will like: 4 Tips to Boost Sales Performance

Looking for additional guidelines to improve your organization's sales performance and empower your salespeople for success? Claim your free copy of our newest eBook: An Insiders Guide to Top Sales Tools.

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Topics: Sales Operations


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