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4 Dangerous Sales Traps—And How to Help Your Team Avoid Them

By: Teresa Weirich

March 15, 2018

When it comes to enterprise sales, there’s a long list of unfortunate circumstances that can throw off a deal—regardless of how much time was spent on preparation and reviewing key details. Sales professionals simply can’t predict or control when a decision maker leaves the company, when layoffs or budget cuts occur, when the company experiences a security issue, and the list goes on.

Uncontrollable circumstances aside, all too often, derailed deals can be prevented by avoiding sales traps. We’ve explored in detail two of these common pitfalls in the past (looking at you, objection handling and proposal stage), but in this post, we’ll take a look at several other dangerous sales traps that can—and should—be avoided in every single deal.

1. Conducting Minimal Discovery

When sales professionals are flying at a mile a minute, certain aspects of the sales process are bound to be missed or cut short. Under no circumstances should the discovery process be one of those items. Conducting in-depth discovery is the foundation of the entire sales process and is the stage in which sales professionals should learn about the company’s process, the influencers and decision makers, the budget, the compelling event, the challenges, the expectations, and so on.

Too often, sales professionals walk into a first meeting without having properly researched and the lack of investment shows up later in the sales process when major gaps appear—gaps that should have been prevented. “Winging it” should no longer be an acceptable way to conduct enterprise sales and in fact, the more time spent researching and asking questions, the likelier the deal is to close—and to close for a higher ACV.

2. Not Setting Proper Expectations With Prospects

There’s nothing worse in enterprise sales than loose ends or missed expectations. The old saying “under promise and over deliver” rings true in this sales trap. When we interviewed Jonathan Sherman, SAE at Pluralsight, he had this to say about expectations and follow-through: “No sales professional prepares to the full extent that they could. If I can be more prepared and follow-up after the fact better than the competition, it’s a pretty simple way to set myself apart and earn customer confidence at the same time.”

In the same vein, another common mistake is to let the prospect take the lead on next steps. When a prospect ends a meeting by passing the buck to another decision maker or asking for information with a promise that he’ll get back to the sales professional, the deal is practically lost already. Without a defined process, expectations are sure to be missed. It’s also much easier to set expectations upfront than have to awkwardly address it later.

3. Not Involving the Right Decision Maker Early Enough

One of the most classic mistakes of enterprise sales is to sell to the individual or line of business owner that will listen and that’s excited about the solution—regardless as to whether or not that individual has any power over the decision. By delaying to identify the financial buyer early on, the tendency is to spend far too much time selling to an individual who can never actually pull the trigger—even if they’re completely bought in.

Certainly, there is value in building excitement with influencers, but sales professionals need to be cautious that too much time isn’t spent spinning wheels versus building a business case with actual financial buyers and decision makers.

4. Allowing Use of ‘Personalized’ Methodology

Another common mistake that sales leaders can avoid altogether is that of allowing personalized processes. While it’s great to embrace that each sales professional has their own style, that “style” shouldn’t translate into going off-script or conducting meetings in a manner that isn’t part of the team’s methodology and process. When structure is lacking, too much can be compromised: CRM data, follow-ups, objection handling, company messaging, and much more. In order to combat this free-for-all style, sales leaders need to diligently enforce the organization’s sales methodology yet seek input from the team to ensure the process is iterative and mirrors what’s being experienced on the frontlines.

By understanding these traps and the consequences they can cause, your sales team can be on high alert to avoid these problems that could cost your team enterprise deals (and resources) in the long run.


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    Teresa Weirich

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