Common Mistakes Field Sales Reps Make and How to Fix Them
April 17, 2023
In a perfect world, a field sales representative's pitch would always be flawless, and they'd always hear a resounding "yes" from prospective buyers. But this isn't a perfect world. Field sales reps face many challenges in their line of work, and a minor mistake can make or break a deal. Here are six common mistakes field sales reps make and how you can avoid making them.
Not listening to the customer.
Failing to do research.
Prioritizing product benefits over solutions for the customer.
Talking to the wrong people.
Trashing the competition.
Not learning to properly utilize your resources.
1. Not listening to the customer.
When you're selling a product or service, it can be tempting to talk a lot. After all, you know what you're selling, its features and benefits, and you're eager to close a deal. But that can come across as pushy. And if there's one thing customers don't like, it's pushy sales reps.
A better tactic is to ask open-ended questions. Those are the questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Also, sales reps should listen to the customer more than they talk. Many people argue that a field sales rep’s ratio of listening to talking should be around 60% listening and 40% talking. In fact, a recent study by Sales Hacker discovered that top-performing sales reps listened about 57% of the time and spoke about 43% of the time on average when meeting with a prospective customer.
2. Failing to do research.
It used to be that field sales reps had to rely on their gut instincts and frequent interactions to understand their customer base. But instinct and face-to-face talks can only tell you so much about your customer's pain points, goals, and dealings with other vendors. But the field sales landscape today runs on data and research. Failing to research the customer’s background, industry, pain points, goals, and obstacles can seriously limit a field sales rep’s ability to know what questions to ask and which product or service will best fit their needs.
Research and preparation are the keys to success. Before initiating contact with a prospective customer, field sales reps should research a sales prospect’s company, industry, and competition. Preparation helps sales reps customize their sales pitch and highlight the right benefits that will help convince a sales prospect to become a customer.
3. Prioritizing product benefits over solutions for the customer.
As a field sales rep, it’s tempting to talk at length about your product’s features and benefits. But customers aren’t interested in what a product has. They’re interested in how the product can solve their problems. It’s important for field sales reps to focus on the value their product provides to the customer, not on the bells and whistles the product has.
4. Talking to the wrong people.
It’s important for the field sales team to focus their energy on pitching to people who have the authority to make purchase decisions for their organization. If a sales rep focuses their attention on pitching to the wrong person, that person then has to take the information up the chain to the person who actually can make the decision to buy. In a case like this, all the nuance of the sales rep’s perfectly crafted sales pitch will get lost in translation. Part of a sales rep’s research before reaching out to a prospective buyer should include learning who makes the buying decisions and how best to contact them.
5. Trashing the competition.
Whether you love them or you hate them, your competition should never be badmouthed about in front of a sales prospect. Trash-talking your direct competitors comes across as unprofessional at best and downright tasteless at worst. This is especially true if the prospective buyer has had a good experience with the competitor in the past. Instead, a field sales rep should focus on how their product is a better fit for the prospective buyer than the products offered by competitors.
6. Not learning to properly utilize your resources.
Even the most talented field sales reps can’t do their jobs well without the right tools and the ability to understand how to get the most out of them. The sales reps who can use research to understand their prospective buyers, get in touch with the right people at those organizations, and tailor their sales pitch to fit their customers' needs are the sales reps who will be the most successful.
It takes the right sales enablement tools to bring those resources together and get the job done. That’s where Perenso comes in. With Perenso’s sales enablement tool, field sales reps can collect data about sales prospects, customize reporting to suit their needs, automate time-consuming tasks to free up their time to spend with customers, and more.
If you're wondering whether Perenso's sales enablement tool can help you boost your field sales, schedule a demo and speak with an expert to find out more.