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How to lose a sale

Had occasion to watch a chick flick with my wife, Kay, over the weekend. It was entitled: “How to Lose a Man in 10 Days.” 

For some inane reason, it got me thinking about the best ways to lose boat sales. My proposed movie title: “How to Lose a Sale in 10 Ways.”

  1. First, always start by focusing on what you want to sell and not what the customer wants. It’s common for a salesperson to have a model that he wants to move. You should automatically try to steer a prospect to that boat. Of course, you shouldn’t be surprised if they decided to early out, since they might be offended that you know what the prospect wants, better than they do.
  2. Don’t take the necessary time to ask questions. Oh, and make sure to do as much selling as you can, without bringing the prospect into the conversation. Also, be in a hurry to get to the question that makes most prospects cringe: “Well, what do you think?”
  3. Always overlook that buying is a process, a marathon and not a sprint. Just stay focused on closing the sale. Ignore establishing yourself as a valuable consultant who wants to fully understand the prospect’s desired outcome for a big purchase like a boat.
  4. Never listen intently to what a prospect is saying. Instead, always be thinking about whatever you’re going to impress him or her with next. Don’t get distracted by their questions. And always bring the conversation back to your pitch. This way you can be certain you’ll miss the clues needed to make the prospect and boat a great fit.
  5. Never insert key words that can resonate well with the prospect. Words like value, easy, uncomplicated, back up, warranties and similar words that are assuring to the prospect.
  6. Speed up any small sale. You want to spend the absolute minimum amount of time with any prospect that clearly may (or may not) buy that small $2,000 aluminum utility vessel. Small sales aren’t worth the effort. After all, your goal is to spend your valuable time selling the big fish the latest large dual console in the showroom.
  7. Never get prepared. After all, practicing the basics of good sales presentations is for newbies. To be good at anything takes practice, so whatever you do avoid spending time reviewing products, applications, key words and presentations that could make or break a sale.  
  8. Always assume prospects can figure out your value as a resource. Don’t offer your general boating knowledge and, especially, your first-hand experience with which a prospect might identify. Forget your expertise and the importance of becoming their trusted consultant. Just sell, sell, sell!  Don’t try to understand a prospect’s problem with buying. Time doing that will only take attention away from your pitch. And, if prospects don’t buy after you’ve given them what you think is the right amount of your time, forget them and move on to the next one. 
  9. Ignore that buying is a timing process, so you won’t have to keep good records of any encounter that you could follow up on later. Don’t take time for clerical paperwork — that’s for rookies and you’re a salesperson. 
  10. Always assume every prospect is looking for the lowest price. So, when you’ve offered your best price and there’s no close, cut them loose. Never mind the idea of calling a couple of days later with news of a “manager-approved” new price or a just announced “factory incentive” on the appropriate model. That prospect has already soaked up too much of your time. 

There are many more ways to lose a sale. Selling is a craft and it takes practice to refine it. To that point, I’m reminded of a quote from the legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, who led his teams to 10 NCAA Tournament Championships. “I can find players who want to be champions,” Wooden said. “I have trouble finding players who want to prepare to be champions.”


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