When you enter the world of sales, you must be prepared to learn.
I still remember my first year in sales. I absorbed everything I could. Read every sales book I could get my hands on. Familiarized myself with Dale Carnegie, Zig Ziglar, David H. Sandler, and David Ogilvy. Listened to all the tips from veterans who were willing to share.
For most salespeople, the first year is all about learning the core principles of sales. You still get the occasional sharing of tricks to get the close but what sticks are the principles.
I learned so much–but as I progressed in the sales field, I realized some of these principles are really not as cut and dried as they seem. These tenets could really wreak havoc on your goals depending on your interpretation of them.
For this post, I put together five principles that a lot of salespeople get wrong.
The product sells itself
Selling is not easy. That’s probably the first thing that you need to accept when you start working in sales. There’s no single quote or guide you can follow that would make everything magically easy.
Joining a company because their product is amazing is one thing. Thinking that the product sells itself and that you don’t really need to put the effort in is another.
No matter how good a product is, be it technically, aesthetically, or as a direct solution to problems, it won’t sell itself. It takes a lot to build and market a good product. Without competent salespeople and a good marketing team, a product won’t see much success.
This brings up another point: the common perception that those in sales are the bottom of the barrel. Salespeople sometimes let this thought get into their heads. For many companies, this feeling of being “outsiders” causes some great reps to lose steam and run off.
The reality is that if you don’t succeed, the company doesn’t. Think of the company as a huge team. Each one plays a specific position, requiring specific skill sets. Everyone is critical to company’s success.
The only thing that matters in business is sales
Mark Cuban said it best, “There has never been a business that succeeded without sales.”
So, how do reps misinterpret this? By thinking they’re the most important people in the company.
Buyer’s journeys today–especially in business-to-business selling–have become more sophisticated. There are more touch points. Most would require more people and resources to close deals.
Gone are the days of the salesman stereotype: an attache-case-clutching, suit-wearing, old-car-driving middle-aged man, sweating as he speaks to a prospect from a telephone booth.
You don’t go for the close on the first sign of human life from the other end of the line.
Salespeople need to know that they’re not in a silo. They have to work with other departments of the company to make sales. They have to know about the updates on the product, know which content from marketing has made an impact on prospects, and what issues current clients are having. You will only get these valuable pieces of information if you see yourself as part of a machine, not a compartmentalized organization within the company.
The customer is always right
There are two common ways this gets misinterpreted.
Number 1: Some reps assume the customer always knows what they need so they let them control the sales process.
A lot of salespeople take what the lead first says as the real issue that needs to be dealt with. It might not sound harmful to make this assumption–but a lot of times, you miss the real issues if you go with the first one you hear or see. Being a salesperson requires the willingness to dig deep and read into what the prospect is saying. Think of it as being a doctor and the prospect is a patient coming to you with issues. What they’re describing are merely symptoms; it’s your job to find the root problems.
Number 2: The buyer is not always right but you don’t have to tell them they’re wrong.
Grant Cardone shared a great point with us in a previous article. He said, “The greatest salespeople, no matter what the buyer says, states or demands, under no circumstances, ever disagrees or makes the buyer wrong or suggests their request is impossible.”
Now, if you read closely and try to absorb what Grant is saying here, he’s not saying that the buyer is never wrong. He’s saying that an effective salesperson knows that you never tell the buyer they’re wrong.
In fact, in my experience, customers are often wrong. Grant mentions that customers even lie. That doesn’t mean you have to make it known or call them out. This will only make them defensive and put yourself in the “enemy” position. You’ve just made them less likely to agree with you.
The presentation makes or breaks the sale
Do you obsess over your demos and powerpoint presentations? In the past, I’ve seen reps literally spend more time putting together a perfect slideshow than actually getting prospects on the phone. On calls, they focus on getting the opportunity to present what they prepared rather than being sensitive to buying signals.
Yes, presentations are important. Live and screenshare demos are the way we communicate benefits and features in action. However, you are still more important than the presentation. Don’t become so dependent on your slides that you lose sight of what’s important in the conversation. Stick to the sales process, constantly qualify the person on the other end, and pitch a presentation if you need to.
Remember Sandler Rule #15: The best presentation is the one the prospect never sees.
Be a consultant, not a vendor
Consultative sales gets the win these days. The more you give value to your prospect, the more they are willing to enter a partnership with you. In other words, the more helpful you are, the more deals you close.
However, it’s crucial for salespeople to continuously be vigilant and watch whether a sales conversation is actually moving the prospect along the sales funnel.
Sometimes, reps get caught up in being consultants. They dig up solutions for the prospect’s problems. They do the research and groundwork–maybe too much. Finally, they put together the specific solution for a prospect’s problem.
After all that, did the prospect buy? Sometimes they don’t.
Remember, the reason you are helping is to make them realize that your solution matches their need. If a prospect still isn’t ready to pull the trigger after you’ve spent significant time and resources to match their needs, it’s important to evaluate if that’s really an opportunity or if it’s time to move on.
Be a consultant but don’t forget that you are a salesperson. Be sensitive to buying signals and confirm them throughout the sales process. Make your time meaningful by making each effort contribute to the sale.
Anybody in sales should know how to use what they learn to help their context. Business is such a complex field to work in, and people have different circumstances needing different approaches. Being mindful of how we apply the core principles of sales to our own sales stories and processes is crucial for continuous success.