Because there are a number of real myths in the sales profession, many companies are making some serious mistakes in hiring as well as in training their salespeople. Here are seven of the biggest myths in selling.
Top Salespeople Are Made, Not Born
Actually, the top 5% – 20% of any sales force possesses two unique qualities that are blended very well into the salesperson’s personality–ego drive and empathy. Ego drive is the self-motivation that a person intrinsically has “to win” and which stimulates them to pay whatever price they have to, in order to achieve their personal goals. Empathy is the ability to be sensitive, to understand other people’s needs, and to think of the other person (i.e. the customer) first.
Neither of these characteristics can be taught, but are usually ingrained in an individual at a very early age, even before entering elementary school. Sales courses and books can improve a person’s ego drive and empathy…but these skills are usually deep-rooted, not acquired.
Top Salespeople Are Very Strong Closers
In some selling professions, such as door to door sales, the ability to close a sale on the spot is important. However, in the vast majority of selling positions, the consultative or relationship sale is the key to the close. In other words, in order to close most sales, the key is the solution/problem approach versus a buildup to a dramatic close which is often perceived to be high pressure and manipulative. The vast majority of buyers detest this style and, unfortunately, this tactic which is used by some salespeople, gives the sales profession a bad name. High performance salespeople use a very methodical problem-solving approach and “closing the sale” is just a conclusion to this entire process.
Product Knowledge Separates the Mediocre Salesperson from the Outstanding Salesperson
Product knowledge is extremely important in professional selling. But product knowledge is isolated information, which really has no “sales” value. Facts, data, and statistics about products or services do not create sales. However, the key to most sales is the proper understanding of the problems of a prospect or a specific business. To understand a business’ problems, to properly analyze them, and then to provide solutions for those problems is the essence of professional sales. Product knowledge is only a small part of this process. Solving problems is the real key to closing most sales.
A Career in Sales is Usually Near the Bottom in Terms of Status & Income
Selling is one of the highest paid careers in the U.S. Furthermore, many CEOs and other executives started in sales, which has always been one of the fastest tracks to upper management.
Women Are Only Effective in Certain Types of Sales Positions
Actually, more and more companies are asking to interview women candidates, in such fields as industrial equipment, chemicals, construction, manufacturing, etc. Success in sales has nothing to do with gender but everything to do with that person’s ability to reach well-defined goals within a certain timeframe. You will see more and more women entering the selling profession as its many benefits are discovered.
Top Salespeople Are More Extroverted Than Introverted
Actually, high performance salespeople are quite analytical and studies indicate that the top salespeople often lean to the introverted side. For example, in the strategic, consultative sales process, a winning salesperson has to pick apart a complex problem to come up with workable solutions, often in a very competitive environment. The emphasis here is on thinking and problem-solving skills versus a person who talks too much and does not listen well. The art of selling is the art of problem solving.
College Grads Are Informed About Careers in Sales
Actually, most recent college graduates have a very limited knowledge about the selling profession. Furthermore, research has found that the average college graduate often has a negative connotation of sales based upon experiences they have had with salespeople… perhaps buying their first car.
Two situations have caused this to happen. First, colleges and universities, with some exceptions, do not offer a degree in professional sales. This is rather surprising since approximately eight to ten percent of the workplace is employed in sales–generating incomes well above the national averages. Second, it is fairly obvious that these students have had bad experiences with salespeople, which have created a negative impression of sales in general. Much more education is needed to teach about the wonderful benefits of sales as a true professional career.