Why Attention to Detail can Make or Break a Sale

BY Rachel Cagle
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The sales profession is all about leveraging the small details to make big sales. Rarely will prospects tell you outright what they need from you in order to make a purchase. So, many salespeople fall into the destructive habit of putting prospects into a one-​size-​fits-​all box based solely on what they personally think the prospect needs. You don’t have to do this. Prospects are always telling you what they need in subtle ways. All you have to do is pay attention to detail.

Why Attention to Detail is Important

In an article for Sales in a New York Minute, Jen Gluckow points out that when you’re not paying attention to detail, you’re likely making prospects angry. Examples range from subtle body language to details your prospects have told you. 

Gluckow gives an example of ordering a club soda with lime and being brought one with lemon. “The small detail of lime in my club soda (and no lemon) is not just important to me, it sets the tone for what’s about to come, and my faith in the server to get it right,” she writes. 

And while it may not be important to the server, it’s the difference between a 15% and 25% tip.” For you, paying attention to details means the difference between walking away from meetings with a contract or empty handed.

How to Improve: During the Sales Meeting

Gluckow says the first step toward improvement is to give your undivided focus to the prospect. Don’t have your phone out on the table to tempt you into looking at it whenever the screen lights up. 

Don’t be looking around the prospect’s office space once they have officially begun the sales conversation. And if you’re in a virtual meeting, make sure you are in a space free of potential distractions. It’s time to focus solely on the prospect, both what they’re saying verbally and through their body language.

One top attention-​to-​detail skill to learn is to ask your prospect intelligent questions. Specifically, you should be asking questions “to clarify and confirm your customer’s message” says Gluckow. 

After you’ve asked the question, don’t speak again until after they are done answering you. If you interrupt them, they could clam up and be less willing to answer any further questions. 

Denise Gibson, Senior Sales Strategist at SalesFuel, says that pain points are among the most important details to be on the lookout for. “You need to pay attention to detail when they [the prospects] are talking about themselves,” she says. “You never know how your solution can help with the variety of problems they may be having if you don’t.”

How to Improve: In Your Personal Life

Kimberly Zhang, writing for Life Hack, points out that there are also things you can be doing in your personal life to practice paying attention to detail. You probably know your neighborhood pretty well, but there are bound to be a few places you have only driven to so far. 

Zhang suggests walking to a nearby destination that you go to often so you can take time to slow down and notice small aspects of the journey. “You’ll be stunned at what you notice. Even if you’ve taken the same route to and from work for years, you’ll spot homes you’ve never seen before. You’ll hear birds, smell plants, and even feel pressure points on your feet that create a completely new experience.” 

She also recommends reading regularly and playing games such as I Spy and Where’s Waldo to improve your attention to detail.

At first, you may feel that slowing down to track details will negatively impact your bottom line. In fact, the opposite is true. The more you practice paying attention, the better you’ll get, and your closing rate will improve, too.