3 Sales Communication Myths Secretly Costing You Deals


Communication between salespeople and their prospects isn’t always straightforward. Each party has their own agenda — and these often conflict. The seller is trying to gauge the buyer’s interest, craft a relevant pitch, and learn how their organization makes purchases and who has power. Meanwhile, the prospect is trying to hide their intent to buy so they can get the most competitive price.

Here are the most common communication errors I see between reps and prospects. Once you’ve eliminated these, critical details will stop getting lost in translation.

1) Assuming the Contact Is a Champion

Reps frequently start referring to their host — or the person who started the relationship, gives them updates, or schedules meetings — as their “champion.” They interpret her helpfulness or early involvement in the deal as indicators that she’ll back them.

But just because someone is friendly doesn’t mean they’re a champion. I have two criteria for customer champions:

First, they want to buy your product or service as much as you want to sell it to them. A champion believes their problem demands fixing. Not in a couple months, not when they get more budget: Now.

Finding someone with this much urgency is pretty rare. However, the second criteria is even harder to meet: True champions are rule-breakers.

That doesn’t mean they act without integrity, but they need to be willing to circumvent internal policies or use their influence to move the deal forward.

For example, a normal contact would say, “It’s going to take three or four months to get Legal’s approval because they have a long queue of contracts.”

A champion, on the other hand, would tell you, “Legal has a long queue right now, so I’m going to ask my friend in that department to expedite this.”

When reps mistakenly believe they have a champion, they take their foot off the gas. They hear, “It’ll take three to four months,” and they don’t push back — because they believe their contact is doing everything they can.

A lot of accounts won’t have champions. Either the rep can create one, or they operate without one.

2) Taking Email Commitments as Truth

Emailing prospects is quick and easy. However, never use email to advance the deal: It’s too easy to misinterpret them.

Suppose you get an email from the prospect with the line, “We’re focusing on you now and not looking at other vendors.”

You might construe that statement as, “They’ve eliminated other vendors.” But it could equally mean the prospect has finished evaluating the competition and now needs to check a final few boxes with you.

Being able to clarify in real-time is crucial.

You can email buyers to:

  • Confirm a meeting agenda
  • Get contact information
  • Red-line the proposal
  • Answer non-critical technical questions
  • Send helpful content

But for deal-advancing dialogue, call, web-conference, or meet in person.

3) Putting Too Much Faith in the Prospect’s Decision Date

Don’t automatically take the first decision date your prospect gives you for granted. Take this fictional conversation, versions of which play out on sales calls all the time:

Rep: “When will you be making a decision by?”

Prospect: “The end of the month.”

Rep: “Why the end of the month?”

Prospect: “That’s when our budget expires.”

Then the salesperson puts the last day of the month as the estimated close date.

The question itself is problematic, since it requires the prospect to predict their future behavior — and that’s nearly impossible for them to do accurately.

In addition, roughly one-third of the time the end of the month falls on a Saturday or Sunday. Customers rarely sign or review proposals on the weekend.

I recommend finding the specific date and verifying it with the prospect. Here’s an example:

Prospect: “We want to make a decision by the end of the month.”

Rep: “Why the end of the month?”

Prospect: “That’s when our budget expires.”

Rep: “I just looked that up on the calendar. It’s a Wednesday. Do you always start new vendor relationships on a Wednesday?”

Prospect: “No. Well, actually we’d probably decide on the Friday before, because that’s when we have our budget meeting.”

Going from a generic “end of month” decision to a real date makes the purchase feel more real for the prospect.

These communication mistakes plague every salesperson. Stop falling prey to them — your pipeline will thank you.

Get more of Jeff’s insights and advice on his blog.  

HubSpot CRM

Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

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