Sales is both an art and a science. There is real innate talent involved, just as there are facts and figures rooted in decades of practice. Above all, the key to effective sales is establishing a connection.
And you do that by building rapport and trust with your prospective leads.
You do that by influencing their feelings.
That can be a very hard act to get right. What makes it worse are several sales stereotypes that have become ingrained in sales culture. Separating the fact from fiction can be a daunting task. The last thing you want to do is learn through trial and error with live leads.
Take a look at 5 of the most detrimental sales myths below, so you can get a head start on doing it right.
#1: It’s all about the numbers
We’ve all heard it before: sales is a numbers game.
Well, yes and no.
Part of sales is narrowing down a list of qualified leads. That means doing the research on your target market and generating a go-to list. You can still cast a wide net here, but prioritizing cold-call quotas is a waste of time. Great salespeople focus on qualified prospects, so they can put their valuable time and resources into those leads. They strive to increase that list exponentially, which is achieved through successful sales over time.
Focus on potential clients who are likely to have at least some reception to your solution. There needs to be constant vigilance in seeking out these prospects and building new connections. Growing your network consistently is the key to building a reserve to tap into during leaner times. Still, quality over quantity is the key. Ideally, you gain both through organic growth over time.
#2: Keep the pressure on
There are entire schools of thought based on high-pressure sales techniques. On one hand, you need to inform and educate your potential client. On the other, you need to influence them to act. While you certainly want to make the client feel something, pressure is not it. High-pressure sales is transparent and comes across as very aggressive. One of the well-established tenets of sales is the 70/30 rule. It stresses far less talking and more listening. Aside from screaming insincerity, too much talking alienates a client and makes them feel like a sale. You forfeit the valuable human connection that is necessary for securing a sale and closing the deal. Further, nobody wants to be bombarded with an onslaught of data and technical jargon within 10 minutes of a meeting. People want to be heard and have an assurance that their company’s problem is understood. That’s how trust is formed.
#3: You can sell anybody anything
Any seasoned salesperson will have dozens of stories of failure. It’s inevitable in sales. There are ways to peak a lead’s interest. There are techniques to bring a resistant, unlikely prospect to the table. There are ways to close a deal so perfectly that David Ogilvy would nod in approval.
Still, with all the techniques, facts and figures, there are some clients who will simply not be swayed. It’s part of the game, and a vital part of the learning curve for companies and individual salespeople alike. It’s important to hone in on target markets for this reason, and why baseless cold calling is a mistake. Trying to sell a solution that is simply irrelevant to your lead is a waste of valuable time. Quality sales programs understand this fact and embrace it.
#4: The customer is always right
Successful salespeople will tell you that often times, the customer doesn’t even know what they want.
Coming to you and opening up to your services is a plea for help. A large part of sales is figuring out exactly what it is that the prospect needs to promote business growth or solve a problem. This can be very different from what they claim
It may sound counter-intuitive, but it is, in fact, a common dilemma in sales. The client may know they have a problem, and often a serious problem is hampering their larger business goals. When listening, a salesperson has to analyze a few things:
- Is this actually their problem, or a result of the core problem?
- Is it one piece of a larger flaw in overall business strategy?
Majority of the art of sales is in listening, studying the business model and honing in on that specific problem. Next, a solution is offered. A client will need relevant feedback. It will be necessary to engage in a meaningful discussion to gauge their exact situation. This comes long before any attempts at closing the deal.
#5: The close is paramount
You need to secure a deal without making it obvious. Everyone knows sales is about generating revenue through leads. The salesperson knows, the client knows. The dance around that is the art of sales. Treat your leads like a human being. You get to know their brand, history and business practices. You get to know a little about them as well.
A good salesperson knows how to work the conversation toward a close, rather than focusing solely on the close itself. Whether this takes one 5 minute meeting or several meetings over the course of an entire fiscal year, it’s a gradual progression. Right off the bat, the client may want something from your services, they’re just not sure exactly what.
Here’s your time to shine.
Sell yourself and offer some scenarios and alternatives: what you can offer and why. Listen to your client – ask questions, gather information and understand their brand inside and out.
After that, you move to closing the sale.
By focusing on the human elements and not the numbers and quotas, you come closer to achieving your end game of sales growth and client retention. Strive to make that client walk away with the assurance that you are the solution to their problem. If they only remember numbers, products and software names, you have failed. However, if they remember you as an asset who is well suited to solving their current problem, you have succeeded. Drop the 5 sales myths above to make room for proven techniques that work.