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Top 10 Sales Urban Myths

By Paul DiModica

As the economy rolls on, sales myths still permeate product and professional service 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 always have used. This “auto-selling” approach makes them feel good because they stay inside of their comfort zone, but in reality, it reduces their selling performance because they never change or adapt their selling process to the need of their selling environment. Here are the top ten sales myths that are currently en vogue:

Myth #1: Spending a disproportionate amount of your available sales cycle selling time with a decision influencer will increase your sales success. The Reality: Hitting sales targets are a time management issue. How many prospects do I have? Which are qualified? How many can I talk with 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 to buy from me? These variables all are relevant in selling.

Decision influencers are communication liaisons for your business value. When you present and sell them, you are asking to have a non-professional salesperson communicate your business value for you to the decision makers. When focusing on decision influencers, 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 value as well as you can. Can you sell decision influencers? Yes, but it is a slow non-preferred process.

Myth #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 #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 they are a buyer today. Networking is a long-term, minimum volume lead generation technique for salespeople. Cold calling is the sales pipeline of success.

Myth #4: Sales training is a cost center. The Reality: Most CEO's 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. CEO's can always subcontract development, engineering or service delivery work - but try subcontracting your sales success!

Myth #5: Clients buy products or business services. The Reality: Clients never buy your products or business 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 #6: Because you were successful last year, you should be successful this year. The Reality: Salespeople often differ 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 fulltime sales student.

Myth #7: Marketing department responsibilities should be focused on brochures, web site communication, and tradeshow 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 #8: It is the sales management’s responsibility to close sales deals for you. The Reality: Sales management's responsibility is to help you sell as a salesperson. 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 #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 to 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.

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 #10: Relationship selling starts before the first sale. The Reality: This is the biggest myth of the group and 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’re the 1st time they then evaluate what you said their purchase would deliver to them as far as a benefit and then they decide if what you said in your pre-sales cycle matches what they received in their post-sales cycle. If it does, then the customer buys from you a second time …and that’s when the relationship starts.

Read other articles and learn more about Paul DiModica.

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