(reading time: 3 minutes)
Social media has mainstreamed popular sales culture. While there have been movies and books targeting and representing salespeople for decades, Facebook and LinkedIn have really been pivotal in creating massive spaces where salespeople can connect and share advice, both good and bad.
It’s these mediums that have done the most to amplify certain sales messages that have no real basis in truth. Usually, it’s because these bits of advice sound good, or because they might reinforce people’s own previously held beliefs. Whatever the reason, bad or misleading advice is rampant in the sales community. So, we wanted to take a moment to debunk some of the most popular beliefs that won’t serve salespeople well.
Here are five examples of commonly shared sales advice that happens to be dead wrong:
And, one new piece of advice that will always be right: switch your CRM to Spiro’s Proactive Relationship Management Platform!
1. Always be closing
This line has been popularized from the famous sales movie GlenGarry Glen Ross, where a hard-charging sales manager played by Alec Baldwin launches into a searing monologue in an attempt to inspire and terrify a group of browbeaten real estate salesmen. There are numerous reasons this advice is wrong, not the least of which is that it’s wildly outdated and ineffective. Prospects simply don’t want to be bullied and pushed into making decisions, and will no longer put up with it.
The internet and various cultural changes have transformed the relationship between salespeople and prospects. While tenacity and hard work are still critical, salespeople need to focus and understand how to build value instead of looking for a quick signature before they can run out the door. Not to mention that fact that this advice was written by a playwright, not a sales professional, and should be viewed strictly through that lens.
2. Whoever speaks first loses
This advice has some truth to it, in the sense that learning how to stay quiet and listen to prospects is a critical skill for salespeople. But where it jumps the shark is in the idea that during a negotiation, if you simply present your offer and stay quiet while the prospect speaks, you’ve automatically “won” the negotiation and they’ll sign the papers immediately. It’s preposterous to believe that this advice has any basis in reality at all.
Negotiations are fluid, people are complex, and prospects value different things. Some people might even be turned off and made uncomfortable if you put them on the spot too much. So, while learning how to shut your mouth is likely to help you close more deals, don’t expect some magical outcome if you happen to get your prospect to speak first.
3. Price doesn’t matter if you build enough value
Another common misconception is that price is irrelevant if you have the ability to make the prospect see the value in your product. This is just plain wrong. There are plenty of amazing things that I think have value that I couldn’t possibly afford. There are also plenty of things I could afford that aren’t important enough for me to stretch my budget for.
Again, people have all sorts of unique circumstances (and budgets), and even if you get someone to see the incredible value in your product, they simply might not be able (or allowed) to afford it. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t always focus on building value and showing how your product or service would benefit the prospect. It just means that in many cases, price matters more than anything else.
4. Either you sell a prospect, or they sell you
This is another trite concept gleaned from the computer screen of a Hollywood screenwriter – in this case, whoever wrote the movie Boiler Room. It’s also probably the most pointless. The message is that every call is a battle between you and the prospect, and that either you’re able to convince them to buy from you, or they’ll convince you of a reason why they can’t.
One of the most obvious problems with this advice is that it implies that you should have an adversarial relationship with your prospect, instead of one where you help them buy and make them happy. The other problem is that this advice perpetuates the myth that anyone can be sold if you simply try hard enough or are talented enough. Anyone who has spent any time in sales knows that this simply isn’t true. Saying otherwise is dishonest.
5. You’re either born a salesperson, or you’re not
This advice is part of the widely-held (but still wrong) belief that sales is something you’re either born to do or that you have no business attempting to learn. There are millions of thriving salespeople and millions of failed ones that prove this theory wrong. Whether it’s the introvert that’s killing it in sales, or the gregarious talkative type who didn’t quite cut it, there are countless examples debunking this insidious myth.
The reality is that there isn’t just one “type” of salesperson, there are hundreds. And it’s commitment and work ethic that are likely to make the most difference in whether you can make it as a salesperson or not. Sure, there are some naturals that were born to sell, but there are millions of others who weren’t and are putting plenty of naturals to shame.