For 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!