Top 10 Sales Urban Myths

As the economy rolls on, sales myths still permeate sales forces trying to hit their forecasted goals or sales quotas. Like urban myths, many of these business beliefs just continue to proliferate without identified authorship or business validity. Often salespeople just use the same method of selling that they have always used. This "auto-selling" approach makes them feel good because they stay inside their comfort zone, but in reality, it reduces their selling performance because they never change or adapt their selling processes to the needs of their selling environments.

To help yourself break out of that "business-as-usual" cycle, have a look at the top 10 sales myths that are currently en vogue and give them a reality check.

MYTH NO. 1

Spending a disproportionate amount of your available selling time with a decision in.uencer (rather than the decision maker ) will increase your sales success.

THE REALITY: Hitting sales targets is a time-management issue. How many prospects do I have. Which are qualified. How many can I talk to or see in person in a single day. How quickly can I move them through the required sales steps and how fast can I get them to take an action step and buy from me. These variables all are relevant in selling.

Decision in.uencers are communication liaisons for your business's value. When you present to and sell to them, you are asking to have a non-professional salesperson communicate your business's value to the decision makers. When focusing on decision in.uencers, you are saying A) you do not have the sales skills to get to the decision makers or B) you are hoping they will be able to discuss your business's value as well as you can. Can you sell decision influencers? Yes, but it is a slow, indirect process.

MYTH NO. 2

Dropping prices will increase sales in the long term.

THE REALITY: Time and time again, every business segment that has followed a commodity-based pricing schema has failed. Selling down and by price is a short-term sales model that cannot sustain financial integrity. Repeat customers buy value; single-sale customers buy price.

MYTH NO. 3

Business networking is better than cold calling for lead generation.

THE REALITY: This is another urban myth propitiated by those who do not want to cold call. Sales reps who will not cold call are half-cycle salespeople. Yes, networking can create leads, but just because you know someone does not mean she is a buyer today. Networking is a long-term, minimum-volume, leadgeneration technique for salespeople. Cold calling is the sales pipeline of success.

MYTH NO. 4

Sales training is a cost center.

THE REALITY: Most CEOs do not spend enough on sales training. They believe that it is more important to invest in development, engineering or operations staff training than sales training. In fact, sales training is more important than technical education and is a true business profit-center investment. Without sales, you don't need development or operations. CEOs can always subcontract development, engineering or service delivery work — but try subcontracting your sales success!

MYTH NO. 5

Clients buy products or services.

THE REALITY: Clients never buy your products or services. Account managers who sell business services or products usually sell less. Clients buy pain management and the results your products or services produce.

MYTH NO. 6

Because you were successful last year, you should be successful this year.

THE REALITY: Salespeople often defer to a comfort zone of auto selling — doing the same things year after year. This repetition implies that all prospects and customers are the same — that they are not individuals and that they don't change. To sell more each new year, become a full-time sales student.

MYTH NO. 7

Marketing-department responsibilities should be focused on brochures, Web site communication, and trade show management.

THE REALITY: PR is not revenue; marketing is not revenue; and advertising is not revenue. Revenue is revenue. The marketing department's primary business responsibility should be creating qualified sales leads for the sales team.

MYTH NO. 8

It is the sales management's responsibility to close sales deals for you.

THE REALITY: Sales management's responsibility is to help you, the salesperson, sell. That means increasing qualified-lead traffic, supervising operational issues that affect your deals, updating your sales-training skills and acting as an intermediary with corporate management. That does not mean going to every sales presentation or meeting every prospect in person. Many times, this becomes the norm instead of the exception because sales management usually carries the department's quota as a whole and revenue is revenue. Why pursue sales management if you have to close every deal. If you're a professional salesperson, most times you should not need your manager to close deals.

MYTH NO. 9

Question-based sales probing will increase sales.

THE REALITY: The fact is asking detailed questions of prospects too early in the sales process actually ends most sales cycles. You cannot cold call or engage an executive of a company the first time, start pinging them with probing business questions and expect them to answer honestly. To achieve sales success with management, you must first earn their respect as a business peer, not a vendor. You must validate your knowledge about industry pains, so you can earn the right to ask investigative questions about their business needs when it is appropriate.

This is important, I'll say it again: The key to sales success is not using probing questions too early; instead it is acting like a strategic advisor where you communicate your business value up front first and then earn the right to ask probing questions that will be answered honestly.

MYTH NO. 10

Relationship selling starts before the first sale.

THE REALITY: This is the biggest myth of the group and it is totally wrong.

Just because prospects take your phone calls, talk to you at trade shows or let you buy them dinner does not mean you have a relationship with them. Prospects have to buy something to have a relationship with you. After prospects buy from you the first time, they then evaluate what you promised the purchase would deliver. Then they decide if what you said in your pre-sales cycle matches what they received in their post-sales cycles. If it does, then the customer buys from you a second time; that's when the relationship starts.

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