Are you prepared for the unexpected? As well prepped as you are for a sales call, there’s always a chance something unplanned could happen to knock your confidence – and block your capacity to sell.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 potential problems that can emerge when closing a sale – and offer a solution for dealing with them. Sales management experts are backed by hours of preparation, strategies for various eventualities, and an open mind to learn in response to changing buying habits.

Remember: behind every problem is an opportunity to grow professionally. Finding solutions to these situations will increase your chances of success at your next sales visit.

1 Research your prospect before the sales call

If you want to surprise your potential customer with a personalised sales proposal, do your homework before the meeting. Find out what opportunities and threats shape their sector, research the structure of their organisation and their level of interest compared with that of other customers. Without pre-qualifying your lead, you’ll find it hard to come up with an original proposal that’s more attractive than your competitor’s.

2 Remember: we’re people, not machines

When salespeople limit themselves to presenting their product catalogue, they’re probably not going to make the sale. The key is to be friendly and natural. A sure-fire technique is to spark your customer’s curiosity by asking well thought out questions. This helps to understand what your prospect is looking for, and how you can offer a solution. You thus build a dialogue that’s positive for both parties.

3 Build trust

Focus your sales pitch on how your service offering will make your prospect’s life easier. Your customer is your priority – and you should convey that clearly. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling you have to say everything in your pitch. Connect with your potential customer. Listen, answer questions with detail and show your company’s objective is to meet their needs.

4 That’s right! Listen to your customer’s needs

It’s tempting to want to close the sale quickly, emphasising all the benefits of your product or service. What’s actually important is listening to what your customer needs.

5 Don’t get the wrong person!

As part of your research into the company you’re selling to, find out who makes the decisions. Your time is valuable. Don’t waste time selling to the wrong person. Before picking up your phone or sending that email, check your contact has decision-making responsibility.

6 Know your products’ benefits – and value proposition

The consumer wants to see something new: a product or service with exclusive benefits. If you don’t highlight this, you’re diluting the value your company can provide, thus blending into all the other offerings on the market.

7 If you apply pressure… you’ve lost your opportunity.

Focus above all on the relationship. Don’t try and close the sale in the first sales call. Behind a decision to buy are probably several meetings, when the prospect’s team will evaluate your proposal and study different quotes. This can take time. If you try and rush things, your prospect will feel pressurised and back off.

8 Arrive at the meeting with a well-prepared pitch

You may have great communication skills, be supremely confident and know your product better than anyone… but don’t limit yourself to memorising your sales pitch. Anticipate possible questions and prepare brilliant replies. Your presentation will be all the more natural, structured and comprehensive.

9 Don’t confuse things by citing multiple advantages

Presenting the entire range of product characteristics is likely to saturate your prospect with information – and they won’t remember anything. Focus on the key benefits; the one thing that will change their lives for the better and that makes your offering unique – and necessary.

10 It’s possible they really do need more time

If after numerous meetings there’s still no decision, don’t worry. There’s a right time for everything, and all the work you’ve done won’t be wasted. If your prospect is interested but needs more time to consider your proposal, manage the time patiently – and prepare yourself for a negative response. It’s important to accept these situations; a positive attitude will almost certainly lead to new sales opportunities.

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