Sales people must abandon these commonly held beliefs to become better at their jobs
by Burk Moreland
There are several well-known fallacies when it comes to the topic of sales. Some popular techniques, beliefs, and ideas are simply not true, yet we hear these myths repeated all the time. Here are two I can quickly clear up.
Myth #1: Good Sales People Are Born, Not Made
While I agree that certain people are more natural sales people, with the right mindset and processes, anyone can be a good sales person. Naturally, good sales people have a couple of traits that usually stand out from the rest: curiosity, confidence, and competitiveness.
They will ask questions before they make statements due to natural curiosity. Follow-up questions are the norm. Getting to the root of an issue to supply a solution is fun for this type of person.
To endure the inherent rejection that comes with sales, the ‘born’ sales person exhibits unusually high confidence. They believe in their ability to assess a situation and choose the right path for the client. Not all clients will share the same vision, so they won’t always buy. The ‘born’ sales person believes the client is making a mistake versus taking the rejection personally. Bounceback is key.
Finally, a highly competitive nature is usually part of a ‘born’ sales person. Everything is a contest. How can I not only outdo my competition, but also my teammates, and even my own past performance? That is what drives them.
However, given the right set of circumstances, someone with fewer of these traits can still be a great sales person. The key is figuring out what the person’s sales ‘style’ is and leveraging a system that takes advantage of that person’s strengths while ‘shoring up’ the less prominent traits.
Example: If you have a sales person that is extremely knowledgeable about the product, but not very curious about others, you can use a checklist interview system to remind the sales person to ask questions during the process of assessing the customer’s needs before blurting out every feature and benefit. Give that sales person a map to follow instead of allowing them to wing it. With a proper system and training, as long as they want to be a good sales person, almost anyone can be successful. Effort, as with any job, is the big differentiator.
Myth #2: Buyers Are Liars
This one bothers me, as it’s such a negative view of the people that pay our salary. Commonly, it refers to a client telling a sales person a lower amount than their true budget in an effort to set up a favorable position for negotiations later. While that may be a true situation, technically, they aren’t lying. If it is lower than their budget, it is within their price range!
The job of the sales person is to then work with that number to decide whether their product or service can meet the needs for that budget. If yes, make the sale. If not, double check that the information is true and then try and help them cut features to get to the price they want, or direct them to a different solution for their service. You may not get the sale, but if you give them a positive, helpful experience, they may raise their budget or, at worst, become a good source of referrals in the future because you were honest with them.
If you enter the discussion with them assuming they are liars, it validates their feelings about the sales profession as a dishonest one. As the famous saying goes, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Approach a prospect with honesty and forthrightness, and often you will receive the same in return, and the ‘game’ will be left to the amateurs.
Sales can be an amazingly rewarding profession if you allow it to be. You are truly the ‘rainmaker’ that brings the solutions to your clients. Whether it is a quality roof over their head, a service that saves them money and time, or simply a widget that provides them enjoyment, you affect people in a positive way. You help them uncover needs they may not have even known they had. You provide valuable information and counsel so that they can make the decision that is in their best interest. Then you shepherd them through the buying process, keeping them safe from all the wolves and other hazards along the journey.
If you are a ‘born’ sales person, use your power wisely. If you aren’t, understand that it doesn’t really matter. If you genuinely love helping people and want to make a difference, you will be great. Study, practice and repeat. Happy Selling!
Burk Moreland is an executive coach. Burk’s clients are expected to and have experienced measurable return on investment, increased productivity, and up to 200 percent revenue growth. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org