How the Lies You Tell Yourself Kill Your Sales Results

No one answers their phone. No one wants to meet with salespeople. Buyers are researching online and making decisions without talking to a salesperson. Everyone wants a lower price. This territory is terrible; no one here is buying. The lies you tell yourself can kill your sales results.

The list above includes some of the generalizations you hear from salespeople. All generalizations are lies (including this one I just typed).

Generalizations can be useful or harmful. Light switches tend to be three or so feet from the floor on the left side of the door you walk through. When you enter a dark room, you slide your hand up the wall expecting to find the light switch. When the light switch isn’t there, you are surprised. Doorknobs mostly work the same way everywhere. In human beings, however, you will find much greater variability.

It’s Never Always or Never

When you say “no one answers the phone,” you are commenting on the fact it can sometimes be challenging to reach people by phone. What makes this generalization dangerous is that the things you say to yourself are true for you. When you say “no one answers their phone,” you are expressing the belief that you don’t think you should have to use the phone to reach your prospects or clients. Your generalization absolves you of the responsibility to continue to try.

The broad generalization that “no one wants to meet with salespeople” is not even close to accurate. Every day, people have meetings with salespeople. This generalization is what one might believe when they struggle to schedule meetings, framing the challenge they have trading enough value for a meeting as a universal and something outside of their control. If something is universally true, then you cannot possibly be responsible for accomplishing something that universal law prevents.

Some buyers do a lot of research online before making a purchase. For the last decade or so, this generalization has been misused by some on social media to suggest that salespeople are no longer necessary, that they create no value, and that prospecting using traditional methods were no longer effective. This broad generalization infected salespeople and sales organization with the belief that outbound prospecting was no more, having been replaced by inbound marketing, something that hasn’t proven true, and isn’t likely to in the next hundred years.

Of all the generalizations salespeople make, my personal favorite is “everyone wants a lower price.” The modicum of truth in this belief is that the likelihood of your client asking you for a lower price is very high. It’s also true that it can be difficult to beat “good enough,” that competitor who is inferior to your company, but still wins and retains clients by having a lower price. The variations here include companies and people for whom “good enough” isn’t good enough, of which there are many.

Evidence a Generalization is a Lie

You know that a generalization is a lie when other people are producing the results you want in spite of your strongly held belief.

One salesperson believes the telephone is not useful for scheduling meetings and another salesperson in the same company is booking meetings every week by making cold calls. Somehow, the second salesperson is calling people who do answer their phone, in spite of the universal law that the first salesperson believes controls their outcome.

I am sure some people refuse to meet with salespeople, but I am not sure I know anyone that fits this generalization. Every day, throughout the world, salespeople are having meetings with their prospective clients and dream clients, strong evidence that contradicts the belief that “no one” wants to meet with salespeople. A more accurate generalization might sound something like, “No one wants to waste their time with a bad salesperson.”

The variations in what people and companies will pay for certain outcomes is enormous. Some will invest more money in a result because of the critical and strategic nature of their need, and others will underinvest, believing that “value” is found in taking money out of a program. There is a certain elasticity of pricing between sales organizations—and individual salespeople.

If You Are Going to Lie to Yourself

If you are going to lie to yourself by generalizing, choose lies that serve you better.

Start with a generalization like, “Everyone is going to want to meet with me. They just don’t know it yet,” a generalization no more or less accurate than the debilitating belief that no one wants to meet with salespeople, but instead one that empowers you to put forth the effort to try.

Another useful generalization might be, “People will pay more when they recognize the greater value, and when I justify the delta.” This is no bigger lie than the one that suggests people only buy on price, and it returns you the power and agency to acquire clients who are willing to invest more in the outcomes they need.

I once had a sales leaders who worked for me that told me the territory she was assigned was terrible. She said there was simply no market for what we sold in one of the largest cities in America. The sales leader that replaced the first believed that same territory  was a target rich environment. They were both generalizing, but one of them had a healthier generalization, which proved to be more helpful in winning new business.

If you are going to be infected with beliefs, choose ones that serve you.

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