Andy Preston, telecoms sales expert

Andy Preston, telecoms sales expert


Whenever I’m working in telecoms, and with mobile companies in particular, I’m often astounded at the basic mistakes their salespeople make that cost them valuable business.

This article looks at the real life mistakes their salespeople make and what you can do about them to ensure you and your team don’t fall into the same trap. Here are the most common mistakes of telecoms salespeople; how many are you and your team making right now?

Not meeting the final decision maker Sales Basics – Meet with the final decision maker. I can hear you saying to yourself, ‘I know that already. I’ve heard that before, it’s obvious Andy!’. It might be obvious, but you’d be astounded how many people aren’t doing it.

In my experience, over 40% of the appointments I attend with mobile phone salespeople are not with the final decision maker. If I hadn’t seen it with my

own eyes, I’d struggle to believe that statistic.

Very often on those appointments we’re meeting the person who deals with the mobile phones, but not the person who makes the final decision. There’s a big difference. The major point with this is that obviously it’s very difficult to close if you’re sat in front of the wrong person.


Not asking the right questions

Another skill that’s seems to be lacking right now is the ability to ask the right questions. Now most salespeople I meet have the ability to ask questions, but in my experience they fail to ask the right ones often enough.

Now I’m not talking here about the ability to ask fact-find questions like: ‘How many handsets do you have?’; ‘What network are you on?’: or ‘How many data users do you have?’. Those are basic questions that I’d expect anyone with a pulse to be able to ask; if you’re struggling with those there’s something wrong with you!

What I mean is more intelligent questions, questions that will engage the decision maker and make them think. These include questions that uncover buying motivation, questions that uncover business and emotional drivers to purchase, questions that probe further than the surface questions that other salespeople will ask, and questions that give you the opportunity to sell higher value propositions, rather than the transaction being all about price.

And probably the most important of all in a competitive market, questions that position you, your company and your offering well against the competition. Which leads me on to the next mistake.


Not dealing with the competition

This is a huge problem for most mobile phone salespeople right now. This is something that most managers and trainers don’t teach, and most of them probably don’t think about. It’s the area of dealing with the competition.

If you’re talking to a client who’s probably talking to between three and 20 different people, on the face of it, all of you are going to offer a similar thing. If the client has a network they’d prefer to go with, the problem becomes even worse.

Looking at it more closely, you’re all going to be quoting on the same requirements, on the same network, on pretty much the same packages. So if you’re not careful, the only differentiator you have is how much cashback you’re giving them. Or to put it another way, how much profit you’re prepared to lose. That’s not a smart way of selling.

You have to get the competition out there, on the table. A discussion needs to happen around who’s in for the deal, what they’re suggesting, how their offering compares to yours, and more. If you fail to do this properly, you’re opening yourself up to being gazumped on the deal and losing business that you could have won, all because you didn’t do your job well enough. Not clever.


Not controlling the prospect

This is another area that I’m seeing mobile phone salespeople struggle with right now. Far too many salespeople don’t control prospects, either on the phone or face to face.

A good rule of thumb is if you are talking more than the prospect, then that’s not a good thing. Also, if the prospect is asking more questions than you, that’s not a good thing either.

I know some sales trainers that say if the prospect is asking questions that’s a good thing as they’re indicating interest. That’s rubbish. If the prospect is asking questions, it means you’re not talking about the right areas, you’re talking about stuff that’s irrelevant and you’re not controlling the process. How on earth can that be considered a good thing?

There’s always one person who controls the conversation, the meeting and the timescales. It’s either you or the prospect. Who would you rather it be?

The second part of this article continues next month. In the meantime, let’s get out there and smash our cold calling targets!


Andy Preston is a sales expert, specialising in the telecoms sector in particular. You can see and hear more about Andy at

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