Unveiling the silent threat to sales growth: Sales Prevention. CEOs and sales leaders, take note. Are Your Sales Processes Preventing Sales? This article exposes common barriers hindering sales growth and urges proactive measures for an improved client experience.
Every client I work with has a goal to improve sales growth. There might be several paths to get there: Designing a sales strategy, improving sales processes, coaching sales leaders, or helping companies hire the right team.
No CEO, sales leader, or professional seller I work with has a goal to stall, prevent, or decrease sales. But it can happen regularly, and they likely don’t even know it.
In the last few months, I’ve observed buying experiences that have either created a strong barrier to a sale or outright prevented a sale. I’m betting you’ve experienced a variation of these yourself:
- “We aren’t taking any phone calls right now. Please email us.” (When calling the company’s phone number.)
- “We know we’ve committed this (fill in the blank) to you in writing, and you’re willing to pay full price for it. But we may have a larger client who wants it. Call back in three weeks to see if it’s still available. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
- My assistant sending multiple emails and making multiple phone calls to a sales director of a very high-end and exclusive hotel to finalize a contract. And when I say multiple, it’s at least a dozen (I’m being conservative; we stopped counting).
- “You’ve reached the general line of ABC Company; we value your call. Please leave a message and someone from the sales department will return your call.” (Because there are no direct dial or mobile phone numbers in email signatures or on the website.)
- An artificially generated and robotic outgoing voicemail message. Really?
- A help-desk email that reads: “Thank you for reaching out. Someone from our client success team will get back to you in 24-48 hours.” Not only did client success not reply after at least 6-10 of these autoresponders, the only way to cancel service was through filing a dispute with the credit card company.
- Sales proposals with multiple solutions, where one solution team fails to follow through in a timely manner on their part. After several weeks of waiting, and a need to spend the remaining budget, the customer or prospect walks away and buys from a competitor.
I promise you these things are happening to some degree in your organization, and they need to be rooted out. Sometimes they are at an individual seller or team level. Sometimes they sit with sales managers or sales leadership. Sometimes they are deeply rooted in sales processes or sales culture, created by teams who don’t understand that their approaches are undermining sales.
How Can You Uncover Sales Prevention and Solve These Issues for Good?
- The first step is accepting that sales prevention issues are likely happening in your organization and commit to becoming aware of them. Once you become aware of them, you can determine the severity level and decide on how to best solve them.
- These might be happening at the individual seller or sales management levels, and it could be mindset or sales process shifts that need to occur. You may be experiencing sales prevention because of poor sales hiring and sales onboarding, or lack of overall sales processes.
- As a CEO or sales leader, commit to learning with an open mind from your top performers and others in the organization what they’re experiencing in their clients. In some cases, the client or prospect will have played a role in sales prevention, and in other situations it will be purely within your organization.
- Be clear on the differences between qualifying prospects and clients, and sales prevention. It’s vital that you have a sales process for qualifying opportunities. Not every sale is a great sale, and there will be some cases where it’s not sales prevention but qualifying.
- Consider investing in Voice of the Customer work. This would involve learning from your best clients about where you shine and where you have challenges, and then committing to solving the challenges over time. As part of this work, you may establish a customer council to help you continue refining your sales processes.
- Review the past six months of sales losses. Did sales prevention play a role and what can be learned going forward? Were these losses with current clients or prospective clients? What percentage of the losses would you consider regrettable because they’re considered high value?
- Make sales prevention mitigation an ongoing sales process within your organization. These small infractions can add up, and it pays to be vigilant.
We’re prone to sharing a negative experience with whomever will listen or across social platforms. When prospects or clients go elsewhere because of sales prevention, they will tell others about their negative experience; we’ll never know how many others they will tell.
As professional sellers, sales leaders, and CEOs, we’re human beings and mistakes will happen. This will never be a perfect process, and I believe our clients aren’t expecting perfection. I believe they do expect us to uplevel our awareness and have practices to mitigate frustrating buying experiences. When we do that, we’ll be ahead of our competitors, improve loyalty, and improve high-value sales.
Optimize Sales Growth with Better Sales Processes
There’s no better time than now to focus on enhancing your sales strategies and sales processes. I can help you and your team grow sales results through my sales training program, sales consulting, and sales assessment services. Let’s talk. Contact me to schedule time for a discovery conversation.