As sales people mature and repeatedly make or exceed their goals, the sales process can become methodical. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it can reduce focus and allow one to get a little lazy, which can lead to problems. So here’s my “big 10” list of things that can cause failure. Use this as a checklist of things to avoid:

Failure to match services with customer needs

Early in every selling cycle, it’s imperative to discover customer needs. Remember, prospects don’t always know all of their needs. Traveling down the path of selling a service agreement to a prospect who has 25-year-old rooftop units may not be the best solution.

Swinging for the fences

While we all rejoice in that six figure service agreement and the seven figure project, don’t get caught up in them. Huge dollar projects can become even more price competitive. Ask your boss if he/she would prefer ten $10,000 service agreements or one $100,000 sale.

A shrinking prospect list

Manage your prospect list with a specific number of actives. My comfort number is 15. When my list drops below 12, I know it’s time for smiling and dialing. If the number swells to 15, I know I need to pick up the pace in the selling cycle of my active prospect list.

Too many small proposals

There’s nothing wrong with small deals unless your active prospect list is made up of only small stuff. If that’s the case, I often find that even if the sales representative closes on them all, they would still miss their target  goals miserably. My advice: keep a prospect list that has a good mix of large and small potential projects.

Not reaching the decision maker(s)

It’s far too easy to be led down the path of boiler room selling. While there’s no harm in meeting with the chief engineer (actually it’s a good thing and many times
necessary), the selling cycle must reach a higher level. Don’t allow the building engineer to take control of the sales process.

Stretching the selling cycle

Typically, the longer the process takes, the less likely the sale will close. We can/should work around those situations out of our control. For example, if the prospect’s present service program ends nine months down the road, simply re-schedule. Foot dragging needs to be addressed. You always need to push for closure (make them say no). It’s imperative the sales person take and retain control of the entire process.

Bidding situations

It’s been said that when the quarterback throws a forward pass, only three things can happen and two are bad. When we bid a service agreement only two things can happen and they are both bad. I have found that getting into a bidding battle when it pertains to service agreements, is little more than practicing estimating.

Call reluctance

This is an illness everyone suffers from occasionally. This occurs after repeated rejection. Without realizing it, we find ourselves sitting at our desks for extended periods of time. When diagnosed, the sales person needs to force him or herself back onto the street. Just remember, we all get our nose bloodied from time to time. Get up, dust yourself off, and hit the pavement.

Failure to adjust to the prospect’s personality

The gregarious extrovert sales person needs to rein it in when sitting across from an introverted librarian. Always remember someone has to make the adjustment and I have never had the courage to ask the prospect to do that.

Short cutting the selling cycle

As earlier stated, selling can become methodical, hopefully not monotonous. When we have a run of “easy ones” it’s tempting to leave out a step in the selling process. Most of time when this happens the sales person doesn’t realize it until it’s too late. Closing percentage starts diminishing due to not sticking
to the plan.

I recommend that sales personnel and sales managers place the ugly list in their upper right hand desk drawer. Like most illnesses, if diagnosed and treated early on, the survival rate is much greater.

Earl King is the founder of King Productions International, a commercial HVAC
contracting sales consulting firm based in Texas. He speaks to associations and HVAC trade groups, and consults with commercial contractors across the country. E-mail Earl at:
profithvac@aol.com or call him at 515/321-2426.