Top 10 First Sales Meeting Mistakes and How to Avoid them
March 28, 2022 Edwin Kooistra
Sales meetings have always been stressful; for every way they can go right, there are multiple ways they can go awry. Securing a slot on the buyer’s calendar only means that you’ve captured their interest but not rushing to part with their money yet. And since sales meeting blunders can cost you business, which doesn’t even take a whopping error to do that, we’ve created a list of the ten most common marketing mishaps so you can avoid them in the future.
Top 10 First Meeting Mistakes in Marketing and How to Avoid them
- Case studies that tell unrelatable stories
- Addressing User Personas Only
- Opting Out of Personalization
- Lengthy, Generic Marketing
- Diluted Messages
- Stretch the Truth
- Wasting the Buyer Energy
- A Long List of Feel-Good Statements
- Failing to Grant Trust
- Poor Competition Etiquette
Mistake #1 Case studies that tell unrelatable stories
“Customer trust is a key business metric.”
With much higher expectations nowadays, buyers increasingly rely on trust to determine their investments in brands and products, and they’re more likely to base their buying decision on reviews online or a friend’s recommendation.
That brings us to “Case Studies,” “Portfolios,” “Our Work” — whatever you call them. They’re one of the most powerful pieces of content your business can create and make up a part of your arsenal wherever possible. In other words, they can give you the ability to frame your product in the way you want and allow you to build one of the most valuable and hard-to-find things in sales — trust and real-world validation, which allows the prospect to ‘check the box.’
And just as case studies are key in closing a deal, they can be sale breakers if not properly used and presented. To avoid common pitfalls, never forget who you’re talking to. Case studies should be totally relevant and relatable to the customer you’re speaking to without the need to stretch their imagination and figure out how this applies to them. Don’t focus on how great your company is, just on the customer’s benefit. The more data-focused, the better, even if you’re telling it in story form.
Mistake #2 Addressing User Personas Only
Tech companies and product marketers often answer the “Who are my customers?” question by describing the end-users of their products, which is a good answer.
But that’s definitely not it.
This question is a bit more complicated than it may seem.
Developing your product with the individual who will ultimately use it to perform their job is necessary. But, this person may or may not be empowered to purchase your product directly.
This user’s supervisor or department head is another key persona with needs and goals very different than the end-user himself. It must play a major role in developing and prioritizing your product.
A company’s management or executive team is another persona whose company you are selling to also has a set of different high-level goals, demands, and priorities. For example, they will want to know how your product will give their company a competitive advantage, cut costs or boost production.
Bottom line, when you’re developing products that affect multiple people across a team or company, it’s important to strategize and prioritize all the needs and goals of the personas involved equally. And perhaps answer “Who are my product’s customers?” question as “anyone’s life or job will be affected by my product.”
Mistake #3 Opting Out of Personalization
Remember the first time seeing your name in an email subject and how it seemed like an unprecedented digital evolution? Today, customer-tailored experiences became essential to remaining competitive in the marketplace and require a far more strategic approach.
Customers are gravitating toward brands that pay attention to their specific wants and needs, make them feel understood, and curate the whole experience according to their unique profile.
Personalization is not just an important capability for marketing but the core driver of how companies must do marketing. Failing to put the customers first can make your business look sloppy and potentially drive customers away, making the difference between ones that struggle and those that succeed.
Mistake #4 Lengthy, Generic Marketing
All product marketers want to be “successful.”
But what does success in product marketing even mean?
Sure, we can track trial and demo signups.
But how do we know what is really successful?
There is only one judge for a successful first sales presentation.
And while there are dozens of “best practices” that you can follow, understanding your customers is the only thing you need to do.
Traditional marketing that tells customers what they need has become unappealing, untrustworthy, and one of the biggest marketing mistakes you can make. A customer-centric approach works a bit differently.
Instead of pushing products, making generic market commentary, and hoping they’ll close a deal, customer-centric companies craft their messaging, products, and presentation content around the unique needs of their target and not only tell them what they don’t know. But, show them situations and challenges of other people so they can relate. Make them see for themselves your role in changing it and understand the opportunities for improvement you can provide.
Mistake #5 Diluted Messages
Anything diluted becomes less powerful. Energy, drinks, even marketing messages.
When it comes to your product messaging, you want to avoid dilution at all costs, keeping it strong, clear, and resounding. That requires keeping it simple, even when your products are complex.
It’s tempting to address customers with multiple messages, but multiple messages just don’t work. Even two messages are too many. That’s because your audience can only process one message at a time; otherwise, it’ll require too much mental effort from them, which guarantees all will be forgotten quickly.
Present one main message that is concise, crystal clear, with simple plain words, and as short as an elevator speech: no acronyms, jargon, or flowery language.
Break all other information into simple chunks and say just as much as audiences need to hear, but no more. Always ask yourself: how much reading or listening is too much to require? How much is the effort demanded compared with how much reward customers hope to receive?
Mistake #6 Stretch the Truth
There’s a big grey area in marketing and sales when it comes to the claims you make and the image you portray. Burgers always look bigger and juicier on billboards than in real life, and it’s always clear blue skies in travel brochures for the central pacific. (No one really expects them to show otherwise, though.)
In the field of marketing, great brands are those who know how to tell good stories, and good storytelling always involves some creative elements. However, companies presenting themselves in the best way possible is very different from deceptive marketing.
Brands that go too far end
crossing the thin line into false advertising, and these days, it is easier than ever to fact check. The biggest hit for companies caught in false advertising isn’t on the brand’s bottom line but rather on the brand’s reputation and honest customer connections, the lifeblood of every successful business.
Mistake #7 Wasting the Buyer Energy
Time is money, and one of the biggest let-downs in sales meetings is spending time in a room listening to a sales rep drone on and on, only to walk away not knowing why they were there in the first place.
Buyer energy is a key factor for evaluating the effectiveness of your sales team and a pivotal insight to track future strategy.
Too often, product marketers focus on reaching customers and getting appointments. That’s only half the battle, though. The other piece of the puzzle is how you are communicating relevant information. The challenge in the modern sales world is standing out from the competition without overwhelming.
How to cut through the noise and ensure you don’t bury prospects in a sea of information that’s not particularly relevant and avoid not having enough content? By employing a sales communication plan.
You might be drawn to boast about all your product’s cool features, but features only tell; benefits are what sell. So, instead of wasting the meeting time describing the bells and whistles, go straight to the nitty-gritty details of your prospect’s problem and only focus on the solution and the obvious benefit.
Everyone should leave your sales meetings knowing exactly why they had to attend and what their next steps are. Otherwise, prospects will more likely skip future meetings or steer the conversation off-topic.
Mistake #8 A Long List of Feel-Good Statements
Your brand is more than the products you sell, and consumers are constantly looking for connections with brands. Therefore, it’s good for companies to offer consumers something they can relate to, but value proposition has become one of the universal terms in product marketing and is being treated like advertising copy rather than a tool to improve execution and positioning.
It is essential that your value proposition is clearly communicated, and simplicity is another good measure of clarity. Companies often see a value proposition as a long list of benefits that devolves into a superficial, fill-in-the-template exercise, unnecessarily cluttering your communication of value and eventually affecting the ability to deliver a consistently superior value to the target customer profitably.
Resist the temptation to combine every single value proposition you can think of and create a confusing hodgepodge of statements that are only true in a few specific situations.
Mistake #9 Failing to Grant Trust
Aside from communicating the why and what behind your product and the herculean effort of creating and delivering it, discussing its roadmap with customers is an essential part of the strategic planning process.
Layout your future high-level goals and initiatives, show the efforts required to achieve them and visualize a timeline for implementing all that work. There is no better representation of your commitment and accountability about where you will invest your efforts and why than a well-presented product strategy to ensure buyers confidently invest in your portfolio.
Mistake #10 Poor Competition Etiquette
If you believe you can provide a genuinely better product than your competition, it’s certainly not uncommon or unethical to compare yourself to them. However, competitor-bashing that may come out of frustration will only show your difficulty conveying it.
Buyers are only looking for reasons to buy from you and not reasons to avoid someone else. Instead, resorting to bad-mouthing will only put you in a weaker position, undermining what you say and making your efforts to close a sale counter-productive.
Very often, you can hear how selling is a form of art, but the truth is very far from that. ‘Sales’ is more science than anything else. If you think value, you impress your prospects with the depth of your understanding of their challenges, needs, wants, and position, they will sign on the dotted line.