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7 Signs You're Selling Through a Keyhole. And What To Do About It.

Keyhole selling occurs when a salesperson misses the big picture and, instead, focuses on only the smallest aspect of a prospect’s overall situation. It’s the enemy of a meaningful sales conversation.

Are you selling through a keyhole? If you're missing the big picture when talking to them, there’s a pretty good chance you’re missing out opportunities. Here are some signs:

  • You lose sales (but don’t know why).
  • You win sales (but don’t know why).
  • Your competition appears without warning.
  • You’re surprised by a post-decision process (like the swift appearance of legal or finance).
  • You arrive for a meeting and there are new people involved you didn’t know about.
  • You ignore questions about complementary products or services.
  • You wonder how other salespeople are able to sell additional products or services to their customers.

The antidote to keyhole selling is to think about the big picture. The best way to do that is to enter any sales interaction with an open mind. That requires excellent questioning and listening skills. In order to maintain an open mind, it’s vital to seek as complete an understanding as you possibly can about what, why, and under what conditions a particular prospect will buy.

And, above all, never make assumptions.

BONUS: Think carefully about alliances you can create with non-competing companies or salespeople. Who already has an audience with your prospects? How might you work together to offer complementary products and services that solve larger problems than either of you could by yourselves?

We’ve all fallen victim to keyhole selling once-in-awhile. Perhaps we get sloppy. Maybe we think we know a prospect’s motivation. Sometimes it’s just because we’re tired. Whatever the cause, there’s a good chance that it means you're leaving money on the table. More importantly than that, it’s a disservice to your prospect.