Top 5 Sales Myths

Let’s face it – selling has changed! The formula we have used for selling is no longer effective, as it has become predictable to businesses and consumers. The new-age breed will roll their eyes as the salesperson begins their close, then tries their closing again. People do not resist -they resent. Here are some hard facts:

  • Order taking has been replaced by the Internet.
  • The hard close has been replaced by the strong opening.
  • The willingness to buy lunch has been replaced by the ability to solve customer problems.
  • Many companies report their sales force ability to meet quota is declining and is at 49% or less.
  • 80% of the total sales revenue is coming from 20% of the sales force. Some companies say it is a 90%-10% split.
  • Today, we embrace a consultative type of selling, introduced in the 1970’s, which promotes a better understanding of the dynamics of how to sell.
  • What was missing, until now, is the next generation of consultative selling for the 21st century… Sales Mapping, which fills this void.

The old ways of selling can be best described by the following Five Myths:

Sales Myth Number 1

“You Think You Sell?”

  • When was the last time you bought something because the salesperson sold you?
  • How many times did you buy from a telemarketer who called your house? I bet if you had caller ID, you didn’t even answer the phone.
  • How many presentations have you been at, listening to a salesperson with way too many Microsoft® PowerPoint slides and way too many words? Did they tell you their service or product is the solution you need, when they clearly did not have a clue about the problem? Worse yet, were they boring? Did they convince you? Did they sell you? Did you buy?
  • How many contracts have you signed because the salesperson bought you lunch or dinner? Did another supplier have a better answer to your needs at a lower price?

Everyone sells is what more and more CEO’s are proclaiming. They realize that the person who answers the phone is just as important as the sales staff, when it come to selling the customer. In fact, many employees within the organization are finding themselves pressed into meeting with prospective buyers or existing customers.

The truth is, business and consumer buyers:

  •  Realize they have a problem.
  •  Know what is required to solve it.
  • Do their own research. (The Internet is a tremendous source of information.)
  • Select a service or product that will give them the results they expect.
  • Bottom Line: Buyers are already sold… by their selves!

 Sales Myth Number 2

“Selling is an Art”

Ask a salesperson to follow a procedure, write a report, or update the sales system, and they will tell you they do not have time. They’ll tell you, “Sales is an art.”

Is sales a process or is it something created for each sale? Is it okay to occasionally update the Sales Force System? Is it really necessary to update the Customer Relation Management system? Or do you get a free pass? Do you really need to follow the procedure that requires a follow-up letter going out within 24 hours, or can you skip it because. . .well, you are not in the mood? I bet you would get upset if your commission check was late because someone decided not to follow the procedures.

What if the accountant said: “Well, is it really necessary to enter this information into the commission system today? Do I really need to check to see if the correct amount was entered? After all, accounting is an Art.” If you believe any aspect of business is simply an “Art”, just ask the Enron CFO if that works? What is the purpose of a procedure? It’s not having to reinvent the wheel each time, but most important it is:

Procedures produce predictable and repeatable results.

Sales is a series of processes or procedures comprised of generating a lead, qualifying a lead, interviewing the client, preparing a proposal, developing a price, signing a contract, delivering the product or service, and managing the account.

The Undocumented Tragedy

The first areas to look to for change are within your own sales processes:

  • Are your procedures current?
  • Do your procedures produce the results you expect?
  • Are all procedures documented?
  • Is the staff trained in their use?
  • Do you have metrics?
  • Do you monitor the implementation of your procedures?

SALES MODELS

We have no recognized standards in sales, but we have plenty of sales models to choose from. Many sales forces use all of them, some of them, or some hybrid of them. Unfortunately, allowing the sales force to follow their own model creates a considerable disparity of which model is working best. Let’s examine some of the models that have been developed along the way and that sales trainers have been delivering. Which ones are you using?

Sales Scripts Model

This model contains instructions on not only what salespeople should say, but also what they should do while saying it. For example: the salesman points to the item that he is referring to.

The sales script is divided into four steps:

  1. APPROACH 
  2. DEMONSTRATION 
  3. PROPOSITION 
  4. CLOSE

APPROACH

In the approach, the salesperson makes no mention of the product. Instead, he explains that he wants to help the business person find ways to increase profit; he wants, in effect, to act as a consultant.

  • demonstration

In the demonstration, the salesperson carefully leads the customer up to the point of a purchase.

  • proposition

In the proposition, the salesperson describes the product for the first time and explains how it would help the customer solve business problems. The goal of this stage is to schedule a demonstration of the product. Once the proposition is clear, and the salesperson feels sure the prospect realizes the value of the product and the moment seems right, he attempts to close.

  • close

This is the toughest part of the sale. The sales script offers a number of techniques for closing, including the following:

  • Do not ask for an order. Take for granted that the customer will buy.
  • Say to him “Mr. Blank, what color shall I make it?” or “How soon do you want delivery?”
  • Take out your order blank; fill it out and hand him your pen saying, “Just sign where I have made the cross.”
  • If he objects, find out why.
  • Respond to his objections and again prepare him for a signature.
  • Make the prospect feel that he is buying because of his own good judgment.
  • Find out the real reason why he resisted and, chances are, it is the very reason why he should buy.
  • Concentrate your whole force on one good, strong point.
  • Appeal to judgment; get him to acknowledge that what you say is true, then;
  • Hand the pen to him in a matter-of-fact way and keep on with what you were saying. This will make signing the logical and obvious thing to do.

The sales script requires exerting pressure in a forceful, yet subliminal, manner. The key is to prevent a prospect from feeling manipulated. Avoid giving the impression to the merchant that you are trying to force him to buy,,,. No person likes to feel he is being sold. At the same time, it is important for the salesperson to exude confidence and honesty. Over the years, the sales script underwent frequent revisions. Not long after the method was introduced, a Book of Arguments, containing a catalog of answers to frequently asked questions, supplemented it.

Companies also produced a more formal Sales Manual that combined the two. The Manual reached its maximum size at nearly 200 pages. Eventually, it was condensed, so it would be become easier for sales representatives to master. A later edition was a booklet of 56 pages.

Changes to the sales manual were regarded like alterations in the product—both part of an effort to constantly improve and keep up with shifting customer needs.St. Elmo Lewis, an employee at Burroughs, who later became head of advertising, called the sales manual, “one of the fruits of the scientific attitude towards the problem of gaining greatest efficiency in selling goods.” John Patterson, a past President of NCR, developed the “Sales Script” model in 1887 and also introduced the sales primer for selling cash registers. This is not a typo – 1887! Patterson has been given credit for pioneering professional sales representatives.

Closing Sales Model

The 1950’s introduced this model, which concentrated on the product being heavily emphasized.

The key elements defining the Closing Sale Model are:

  • Presentation Skills
  • Trial Closing
  • Overcoming Objections
  • Final Close

This model is still in use today, usually in high-pressure sales.

Product/Service Pushing through Personality, Persistence and Price

  • The salesperson is tenacious, persistent and usually has a low-cost item and works on a numbers game.
  • The natural born salesperson enjoys interfacing with people and usually has an engaging personality.

Relationship Sales Model

  • The salesperson builds a relationship, over time, with repeated visits.
  • The buyer and seller get to know each other on a personal and professional level.

Problem-Solving Sales Model (1960’s) Focusing on:

  • Open-ended questions – Role-playing is used with students to get them to understand how to get clients or prospects to talk about the things that are important to them.
  • Closed-ended questions – Closed-ended questions require a yes or no response.
  • Listening skills is a key component.
  • The salesperson takes the information and then presents solutions.

Value Add Sales Model (appeared in late 1960’s). Price objections raised by the “Problem-Solving Sales Model” can be countered by adding additional services. In this way, adding these services to the base product/service gives a perception of the value received versus the price.

Consultative Sales Model (surfaced in early 1970’s) Determines how to lower the clients costs and/or  Determines how to increase the client’s revenues

The company requires a depth of understanding of their clients’ business, as well as a solid track record in delivering proven results. Start-ups find it difficult to compete in this type of sales model.

Partnering

This model became the buzzword used by salespeople-not in creating a legal entity, but in building a joint plan for creating an opportunity. The sale is conducted at the highest level of the company and an output is a business plan targeted at a niche within the clients’ market. The term partnering became highly overused and misused. Clients and prospects soon tired of hearing the word.

Team Selling Model

Though not new, the Team Selling Model became increasingly more integrated into the sales model. The salesperson in this model must coordinate all of the activities within the organization and external to the organization, in order to win the business.

The role of the salesperson involves taking on a strategic role in developing win themes, internal politics, competitor analysis, and legislation, as examples.

Review the different models you are using. Are you getting the results you expect? If you are leading a sales team, what model does your team use? Or, are they all using different ones?

Sales Myth Number 3

“Salespeople who are ‘Good Talkers’ with a ‘Great Pitch’ win the most”

Place a salesperson in a selling situation and they are set to give you their “Pitch”. In fact, I have heard prospects tell a salesperson, “Go ahead, give me your best “Pitch”. The reality is that the “Pitch” works sometimes, and sometimes it doesn’t. Using a metaphor of baseball, imagine the role between a pitcher, catcher and batter, as they plan and play the game. The catcher has studied each of the opposing batters and understands which pitch will work and which one will not. He sends non-verbal signals to the pitcher, believing they will be the most effective. The pitcher’s role is to accept the non-verbal signal and deliver the pitch across the plate. The batter, of course, is also receiving a set of nonverbal signals from the manager, letting him know what kind of hit is suitable in this situation.

  • What if the catcher sends a non-verbal signal for a curve ball and the pitcher throws a fastball?
  • What if the catcher sends another non-verbal signal for a change-up and the pitcher throws a fastball?
  • What if the catcher sends another non-verbal signal for a slider and the pitcher throws a fastball?

The pitcher, in this example, ignored the non-verbal signals, because this pitcher was not aware of them. Will this pitcher succeed? Because baseball is a numbers’ game, success will come some times; but, over time, this pitcher will lose more games than he will win! What if the manger sends a non-verbal signal for a bunt and the batter ignores the signal and continues to take full swings and strikes out? How long do you think the batter will have a job if he keeps on ignoring the non-verbal signals? What do the salesperson and pitcher have in common? One throws a baseball across the plate, while the other uses words to get across the plate. How many salespeople did you recognize through this example? Are you one of them? The ones with one great pitch will win once in a while but, over time, their record will show more losses.

Bottom Line: Salespeople can talk themselves right out of the sale.

Sales Myth Number 4

“Sellng is Close, Close, and Close”

Say “Used Car Salesman” out loud and: What images do you see? What words do you hear? Or, what feelings do you feel?

I am not slamming the car-selling profession. I have friends in the auto sales industry, who have high standards, are very ethical, and are good salespeople. However, a few bad apples make it tough for the rest. The Gallup Organization took a poll in 2000 asking this question: “Please tell us how you would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields?”

Four of the top trusted categories chosen were:

  1. Nurses
  2. Pharmacists
  3. Veterinarians
  4. Doctors

Four of the lowest rated were:

  1. Lawyers
  2. Newspaper Reporters
  3. Insurance Salesmen
  4. Advertising Executives

The lowest was (you guessed it): Used-Car Salesmen.

Gallup has been taking this survey for over 20 years and, each time, used-car salesmen ranked on the very bottom of the list.

The Internet Has Changed the Way We Buy

What can this story teach us? Let us explore the buying and selling process.

  • How did he find the Four Runner? –  The Internet!
  • How did he get his research done? –  The Internet!
  • Where did we get the checklist of things to check and do when you buy a used car? – The Internet!
  • How did we check to see if the 4-Runner had been in any accidents? – The Internet!
  • How did he find out the average amount of money he could expect to pay? – The Internet!
  • How did we get a map to the seller’s house? – The Internet!

Now, let’s look at the used-car buying experience in a slightly different light, comparing it from the Old School to the New School of selling and buying.

OLD SCHOOL NEW SCHOOL DIFFERENCE
Used car lot Car Max No Commission -every salesperson is paid a base salary. Look at a kiosk for the car you are interested in. It gives you the price, no haggling or pressure selling.
Newspaper or classified ads Autotrader.com or Ebay.com Classified ad gives very little information. Online, you can see a picture of the car, read detail, send an email question and, if you click on Ebay.com, you can bid on a car.
Research, Ask a friend or read a magazine Epinions.com Find out what a few people know or go online and get consumer feedback from all over the country.
Trust salesperson that the car had not been in an accident before. Carfax.com Have an expert check it ORGo online and get a history report on the car you are interested in.

Where else has the Internet changed the sales process? Consider the following:

 

CUSTOMER OLD SCHOOL NEW SCHOOL
Wants to place an order Calls the salesperson:

  • Speaks to the salesperson and places order or
  • Leaves voice mail or
  • Waits for a return call or
  • Schedules a time for salesperson to visit
Goes online:

  • finds product and
  • places order
Wants to know status of the order Calls the salesperson:

  • Speaks to the salesperson or
  • Leaves a voice mail and waits
Goes online:

  • Enters order number
  • Clicks on tracking link and Information is provided
Wants to know if a certain item is carried by the vendor Calls the salesperson:

  • Speaks to the salesperson and places order or
  • Leaves voice mail or •Waits for a return

call or

  • Schedules a time for salesperson to visit
Goes on line: • Enters item and •Clicks searchAnswer provided

 

Bottom Line: Selling has changed… have you changed the way you sell?

Sales Myth Number 5

You can actually sell business-to-business B2B and Business-to-Consumer B2C

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s press conferences, under the President George W. Bush administration, are “Must Watch TV”. Listening and observing how he works with the press is legendary. As I tuned in one day, a member of the press in the front row raised his hand and the secretary recognized him. The room became silent and all present could hear his question to Secretary Rumsfeld.

“Mr. Secretary, the White house reported today…” But Secretary Rumsfeld stopped him right there and, without skipping a beat said, “That’s silly; houses don’t talk. Who in the White House reported?”

Salespeople do not sell to an industry, the marketplace, buyers, customers, clients and prospects, or to titles like CEO. Businesses do not sell to businesses. Businesses do not sell to consumers.

People sell to People

Salespeople have one major tool in their toolbox and it is not an Ipad, PDA, a PC, Customer Relationship Management soft­ware (CRM), Sales Force Automation (SFA), or demos. It is…Words!

We are taught as children:

How to talk . . . How to listen How to read . . . How to write

How much of your day is spent reading or writing? Not as much as we spend talking. In fact, most of our time is spent talking!

Some challenges salespeople have in communications are:

  • Poor listening skills
  • Not realizing people have different speaking styles
  • Not having defined the purpose for the communication
  • Not having an outcome
  • No common ground to begin the communication ¥ Resistance
  • A desire to be right, instead of seeking resolution
  • Interrupting the client
  • Talking way too much
  • Finishing the client’s thoughts

Bottom Line: How do you measure communication? By the results you get… No matter the intent.

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