The Truth Behind the Top 5 Sales Myths

sales mythsFor anyone who isn’t actively involved in sales, it’s easy to acquire some misconceptions about this critically important field. Some of us still hold onto the stereotype of the sleazy used-car salesperson, or at the very least associate “sales” with aggressive behavior, annoying persistence, even the notion of being cornered by someone at a party and unable to escape.

Needless to say, veteran salespeople object to these clichéd images and at other myths about their field. Here’s a look at some of the most common myths about sales and the truth behind them:

Myth #1: We can pick any employee to learn sales.

Well, perhaps not anyone—but certainly the guy in marketing who’s such a well-known “people person.” Right? In fact, salespeople who are good at what they do are a breed apart. They have a unique ability to strategize and think ahead, regardless of where they are in the sales cycle. They’re also committed to building relationships that don’t have any immediate pay-off. Yes, they’re persistent by nature, but that persistence encompasses much more than making repeated telephone calls. It involves ongoing research and working hard to retain such “soft” information as the name of a client’s fifth-grade daughter.

Myth #2: The right salesperson can convince anyone to buy our product.

Yes, salespeople are persuasive by nature (and training). But the era of mass impulse buying is long past, thanks to the wealth of information available to consumers online. Generally speaking, prospects know a lot more about your business before they’re ever approached by a member of your sales team, so they’ve already made at least a partial decision about whether or not to consider purchasing your product or service.

Expert salespeople understand the key is determining if a prospect has a genuine need for what they’re selling. They know they could spend all day extolling product features, when all the would-be customer wants to know is, “What’s in it for me?” Such sales veterans aren’t interested in trying to sell to everyone they meet.

Myth #3: CRM and online resources make selling easy.

While it’s true that Customer Relationship Management and the internet’s vast toolkit of resources offer advantages undreamed-of in an earlier time, the best salespeople understand that these resources help pave the way, but aren’t the “golden grail” of sales. They use online data to help prepare for their appointments with prospects, but never mistake the web and/or social media as replacing the all-important relationship they build with individual buyers or department managers.

Myth #4: The best salespeople see everyone as the “enemy” (including their fellow employees).

We can pigeonhole salespeople as wildly competitive and out to make themselves better than anyone else, including the people they work with. But don’t fall for the idea that “your best performers will be cold-blooded, deal-making machines,” warns sales expert Nick Hedges. Instead, aim for a sales culture within your organization that promotes “a team mentality, by rewarding more than just the top performers, and by inspiring confidence in the entire team’s capabilities.”

Myth #5: Our sales team must always be closing.

Thanks to David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, we all fall prey to the notion that sales must focus entirely on “ABC” (always be closing). But, as noted earlier, sales are equally all about relationships. And those relationships must revolve around a discussion of value to the customer, not the salesperson’s need to meet or exceed quotas. Building relationships takes time, so the most effective perspective is long-range, rather than any short-term benefit to the company.

Want more advice for your sales process, or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

Four Common Lead Generation Mistakes to Avoid

lead generation

Where would your sales figures be without qualified leads? Leads matter because people have demonstrated an interest in your business’ products or services and are willing to share personal information in order to learn more. Some of these leads can be nurtured into prospects and converted into sales, but many won’t.

The key for you and your sales team is recognizing common mistakes that negatively impact the opportunities to cultivate rich and eventually profitable leads. Here are four key mistakes to avoid:

1. Your lead capture forms aren’t “user-friendly.”

Generating leads starts with capturing key customer information—enough to move a casual
visitor to your site to start the sales process rolling. Many sales efforts stumble when the lead capture forms on your landing page don’t reflect a typical user’s preferences; either they ask for too much information or, alternately, request too little of the user.

Short forms may generate larger numbers of potential leads, but the quality of those leads might be lacking. There simply won’t be enough for your sales team to go on, and a lot of time can be wasted chasing after prospects who stubbornly refuse to become “qualified” in the desirable sense of the word.

Forms that ask for too much information are most likely to discourage potential interest in your business offering. (Though, on the bright side, those visitors willing to share an abundance of information are probably better qualified to begin with.)

Finding the right length for your lead form may depend on what you offer as a “reward” for sharing information. Strive to balance your request for data with the value of the benefit you’re offering.

2. Your web pages aren’t optimized to generate leads.

As with any business site, visitors flock to certain pages more than others. Businesses sometimes err by not optimizing the most heavily trafficked sites (such as the home page, “Contact Us,” etc.). Here are opportunities to seize on prospect interest in your business. Make sure these pages are optimized with eye-catching, stand-alone calls-to-action (CTAs), generally placed in the upper left-hand corner for prime visibility. Also consider adding special offers on these pages, in order to generate further interest.

“If your CTA does happen to send users to a general page on your site, it’s likely that they won’t bother wasting the time trying to find what they were after in the first place,” warns marketing expert Sarah Quinn. “They’ll just get it elsewhere.”

3. The call-to-action lacks urgency.

Speaking of CTAs, how compelling are the ones you feature now? Remember, visitors come to your site at different stages in their “buyer’s journey.” A generic CTA won’t likely produce much response. Consider tailoring these with different goals in mind, such as downloading a white paper, viewing a demo product video or some other value-added incentive to generate more click-throughs.

4. The definition of a “qualified lead” isn’t shared throughout the organization.

In some organizations, there’s a clash between marketing and sales when it comes to defining a lead. Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) are those leads identified by marketing as having genuine potential for a long-range customer relationship (with an emphasis on repeat business), These leads may grow out of analytic results or customer demographic characteristics that have proven successful in the past.

Sales-qualified leads (SQLs) are, by contrast, regarded by the sales team as promising opportunities for a short-term closed deal.

“It’s imperative that your company’s definition of an MQL matches its definition of an SQL for this transference between departments to work seamlessly,” cautions marketing executive Giles House. For better results, close communications “between teams will improve overall sales by generating a marketing agenda that best suits and supports your sales force.”

Want more advice on sales and marketing or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!