Making mistakes can be uncomfortable, but they’re a good opportunity to learn and improve (or at least move on). Here are four mistakes we’ve written about recently on our blog that we see in sales and marketing organizations. Feel free to share some of the major missteps you see among sellers and marketers in the comments section.
Mistake #1: Relying on spreadsheets for your presentations.
Have you ever made calculations in Excel to help convince a prospect to invest in your solution, only to find that a simple data-entry error foiled the end result? An analysis of multiple studies on spreadsheets from 2008 found that 88% of spreadsheets have errors. In addition, even the most carefully assembled spreadsheets contain errors in one percent or more of all formula cells. A complex sale typically involves complex calculations. The more faith you put in manual data-entry into spreadsheets, the more you risk making a simple error that could potentially result in a mistaken conclusion. An ROI calculator can easily prevent this. Not only will an ROI calculator prevent data-entry errors, many prospects are more inclined to put their faith in numbers generated by a calculator that’s been created by a third-party vendor.
Mistake #2: Not properly preparing reps to make sales calls.
According to Forrester research, only 13% of customers believe salespeople can demonstrate an understanding of their business challenges and how to solve them. What does this mean? Sales leaders are sending their reps into the field without giving them the tools to win. If this describes your sales team, I would say it’s time to dig into two areas of the organization. One is sales management. Explore sales coaching and training options you can provide for your reps. The second is product marketing. Strong assets from marketing can help reps explain in clear financial terms how they can help solve a prospect’s business challenges (which is a must-have skill in today’s business environment).
Mistake #3: Talking about ROI without understanding what it really means.
Do you every talk about “ROI”? Do you know what the term really means? During my first job out of college as an engineer, I became an economic evaluator. That meant part of my job was to evaluate capital investments and decide whether they represented a good investment for the company (including evaluating the payback period, NPV, and ROI). So that was where I learned a lot about financial analysis and how to talk about numbers with CFOs. I frequently hear people use the term “ROI” inaccurately. In a casual conversation, people might still give you the benefit of the doubt and have faith that you know your stuff. However, if you’re making a formal presentation or having a serious conversation with a prospect who’s well versed in financial terminology, any misuse of the term could obviously leave a disastrous impression about you and your company. Don’t let this happen to you — learn the proper definition of ROI and how to use the term to your advantage.
Mistake #4: Asking sales reps to become financial experts.
A salesperson’s biggest strengths are building rapport, understanding business problems, negotiating, etc. Although business acumen is important, some sales organizations are taking it a step too far by asking reps to essentially build what amounts to a financial analysis so that reps can say to prospects, “Here’s what the ROI would be when you invest in our solution.” This is putting too much on a sales rep’s plate. A better approach would be to embrace an ROI calculator that can be used over and over again with prospects in your target segment. With simple navigation and ease of use, an ROI calculator built upon a software platform can easily uncover the costs of buyers’ problems. These sales enablement tools seamlessly calculate the key financial metrics.
What are some mistakes you see in sales and marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section.