Seven Sales Myths

By Drew Stevens

With over 27 years in the field of selling, Stevens Consulting Group has encountered numerous selling myths. Many are so focused on closing sales but fail to avoid many of the trappings of ridiculous behavior. As I have stated in in the past, 92% of professionals lack a process in which to conduct relationships that affect business. So many fail to follow two things 1) good advice (and there is a LOT of poor advice nowadays) and 2) proper education. If there were good advice to help you close sales gaps would you be interested? Then here are seven of the top 25 selling errors.

1) Price: During our reach into the Millennium, advantages to selling decrease as consumers use the Internet to gain accessibility to competitors, inventory and other vital tools. The information endows the client to strengthen their negotiable position. Price negotiation now succumbs to value. Customers today desire value. Value is the benefit the client receives from a selling professionals business. Value is a competitive differentiator as clients discern the answer to the vital question, “What’s in it for me?” Clients only do business with those they trust. Forget the price equation and only sell on value.

2) Anyone can do it: Sales professionals are much like a general on the battlefield, an athletic coach at a game, or a chess player at a tournament: they are always thinking ahead, strategizing to determine their next move. Selling requires a desire to create relationships and a willingness to absorb useful research and articulate the results to a client. Not many have the patience and persistence that selling requires. The skills needed for selling (especially technical sales) are not found in many. Talent is innate and cannot be taught.

3) Sales people make good managers: There is a ridiculous notion that since selling professionals manage territories and relationships the transfer of skills rationalizes promotion to management. Not true. Research illustrates that selling professionals desire individual achievement. They enjoy the entrepreneurial ability to call upon clients, meander in their territory and create their own luck. Managing staff requires oversight, reports, and motivation and oftentimes reprimands, shunning results. Simply put, the best selling professionals don’t make the best managers.

4) High Motivation is Required: Many aspects of selling require technical conversations. Engineering sales professionals require a pragmatic approach meshed with analytical presentations. Every organization from non-profit to government requires selling to offset expenses. Each firm maintains a variety of cultural standards, some aggressive and loud while others peaceful and cautious. The talent of the professional emulates the organizational culture. High motivation is applicable dependent on the organization. And not all individuals are required to be gregarious.

5) CRM Rules: Technology for technology sake is ridiculous. Numerous software and Internet applications assist speed and workplace efficiency. However, many individuals tend to use technology to augment human interaction. Relationships control selling situations. CRM or Customer Relationship Management assists pipeline management. Sellers control relationships with dialogue, language, and discussion not electronic software. Applications must be used to help the relationship not become a substitute for it.

6) Internet increases selling effectiveness: The most important part of any business owner is to prepare for each and appointment. The successful professional will always know the client or even the prospect. The Internet is most accessible and enables spontaneous information. Selling professionals might discover useful competitive and industry information that aids the client. However the Internet, like CRM, is not meant to augment the business relationship. Electronic mail and the Internet will aid immediacy of required customer content but it will never substitute for positive relationship building. And forget those social networks, they do little to build business.

7) One must always be closing: Building business is about relationships. The discussion with prospects should always be about value, not about fees, or prescriptive programs. If the discussion is not about value, then you or your people have surrendered control of the discussion, and the result will never be on the terms you would prefer. When the discussion is on value and the prospect is convinced of the wisdom of a relationship with you, fees are academic. When business is closed it is based on the adulation of the relationship. Stop worrying about the number of widgets and start worrying about the number of relationships.

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