Ten Popular Ideas About Sales That Aren’t Exactly True

There are all kinds of ideas about what works and what doesn’t work in sales. Some of it contains a truth, but not the whole truth.

  1. Buyers are doing a ton of research. It’s true that buyers are doing research. Maybe some are 57%, 67%, or 117% through their buying process before they reach out to a salesperson. But many of your dream clients have bought what you sell before, have been called on by your competitors for years, and don’t do any research at all. Some are too busy. And why should they do so much research, your competitor’s phone call is coming in the next few minutes.
  2. The buying process matters. Your sales process doesn’t. Much of the current wisdom suggests that your sales process is no longer important and what matters now is the buyer’s buying process. It’s true your sales process needs to take account of your prospect’s buying process. But it’s criminal negligence to suggest you don’t need a sales process.
  3. Technology makes prospecting easier. Technology makes information acquisition easier. It might even allow you to warm up relationships. But prospecting is still the most difficult part of selling right now (ask anyone who has to open new opportunities). More still, the technology does little to help a salesperson that is unprepared to create enough value to command time. Bad prospecting is still bad prospecting.
  4. People don’t like being sold. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anybody do what I would call a truly hard sell. It’s true that no one likes to be pressured to buy. But people do like working with smart, savvy, resourceful salespeople who can help them improve their results.
  5. Marketing is supposed to provide ready to buy leads. Marketing’s job is to drive awareness. It’s to help create demand. You could add more responsibilities here, but once you get so far down the continuum that you get to “ready-to-buy leads,” you’ve gone to far. If the lead was ready to sign the paperwork, marketing could email them and collect an e-signature (oh, wait, that’s Inside Sales). You take your leads as you find them. Pick them up and take them the rest of the way.
  6. The old stuff doesn’t work. The old stuff is the only stuff that works. Half of what you come across will tell you that the old ways we sold no longer work. They’ll tell you relationship selling doesn’t work, solutions selling is dead, as is consultative selling. And while that’s not exactly true, neither is true that only the shiny new, Sales 2.0 technology-aided sale works.
  7. Selling is all collaboration. It’s true that selling well is collaborative. But selling also carries some conflict. That conflict begins when you ask for your dream client’s time and they say no. If you do anything other than accept the “no” and hang up the phone, you have a necessary conflict. It’s true that it helps to turn conflict into an opportunity to collaborate, but isn’t true that it’s only collaborative.
  8. Everyone is buying on price. Not exactly true. It is true that globalization, disintermediation, and the recessions that started and closed the first decade of the 21st Century worked to try to commoditize everyone and everything. Yes; it’s true. But there as many buyers who want results, who want better, and who demand value. They’re still willing to pay for it—provided you can help them justify the higher price.
  9. Big data is the biggest daddy of them all. Is it going to revolutionize business? Is it going to change the way we sell? Sure. But for the individual salesperson right now, Little Data is every bit as important as Big Data. You already know a lot about your clients and prospects. They already know a lot about you. Right now, that’s more important.
  10. You’re supposed to be impartial. Being impartial doesn’t make you consultative. If what you sell doesn’t create value for your prospective, you’re supposed to disqualify them. If your client needs something you don’t sell, by all means advise them. But when you decide to pursue an opportunity, you better be damn partial.

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