The Lies Sales Experts (Shamelessly) Tell You.
Generating revenue is always a relevant discussion.
Frankly, it’s all-consuming for the millions of companies trying to stay afloat in today’s madly convulsing economy.
And as businesses find themselves struggling, they turn “to the pros” to find answers to their important questions.
Which you would think would be a good thing.
Why not ask the people who know the most about the topic -- the sales experts.
But that’s where you run into trouble.
A lot of the advice that you hear from leading sales experts just doesn’t work.
It sounds like it should work, but at the end of the day it’s all a good business development lie -- though well intended most of the time.
Here are a few lies sales experts want you to believe.
1. You need to be a consultative salesperson.
Buyers don’t need more questions. They need more answers.
Consultative selling is as ridiculously outdated as Alec Baldwin’s advice in Glengarry Glen Ross to “Always Be Closing”.
And what’s wonderfully ironic is that you being helpful is never outdated. But a strategy that water-boards your prospect with 37 questions is just a bad strategy.
Frankly, it’s manipulative and selfish. Asking questions is brilliant, but using an interrogation as a trap to close buyers has a short shelf life. And forget about getting referrals. Buyers aren’t just remorseful; they tend to hold a grunge at this type of poor behavior.
2. Your sales process matters.
There are literally “zillions” of different ways to sell your magical wonderments.
There is Sandler Sales Training, SPIN Selling, Dale Carnegie Training, Customer Centric Selling, Action Selling, Seductive Selling, and dozens of hybrid sales training systems from companies like Richardson, Miller Heiman, and Franklin Covey.
And they all work.
And not in that kinda, sorta, “look at it with one eye closed” type of way. They all can help you double and triple your revenue. All of them.
What matters is that you find one, learn it, and keep practicing. What makes any sales process work is you honing your skills.
Remember nothing works if you don’t.
3. Using technology accelerates prospecting.
Social media, email marketing, sales force automation, and mobile CRM products are all the rage. What’s even more the rage is a long line of experts filling you in on the advantages of tweeting and blogging and creating your own fan page on Facebook.
And it’s all just a distraction.
You can’t use technology to automate empathy. It does not work. Robots don’t understand emotional intelligence. Dripping your marketing on more people just makes you more annoying. And power-tweeting about your latest webinar or CD series is just flat out unattractive.
Technology can help you do a lot of things, but it’s no “plug it in and let it go” solution. It’s just a means to help more people in more places.
4. It's all just a numbers game.
So is the fine art of buying groceries. All of life could be considered a numbers game in some way. We have this strange obsession with counting successes and failures.
And let’s not confuse fact with fiction. Learning from the results of your actions is always a good thing. It is. It’s something that more of us need to do more often.
But a “shrug your shoulders” explanation for volume selling is just nonsensical and completely impractical. And by the way, that deal isn’t a number after all. It’s a company and a person and set of problems that you are trying to solve.
Reducing it all down to an “ahhh shucks” number might show how little intimacy you are really creating in your transactions.
5. Building rapport and trust is key.
The experts tell us that people need to trust you enough to give you their money. But even that isn’t exactly true. People will give their money to sales people they dislike as long as they trust the company behind the deal. (Think about your last car purchase…)
The problem with experts trying to convince you to get good at building rapport and trust is that there are other parts of the sales craft that need as much or more attention. And isn’t it as least a little gimmicky to rehearse “trust building”? That seems shady all by itself and manipulative.
Rapport is just a ticket to get to the game. It’s not a strategy or a plan or even a process. It’s about you being the type of person that people want to do business with. You pretending to be someone that people want to do business with just “icks up” what you are trying to do.
Trust and rapport isn’t that key. You being amazing is.
6. Work smarter not harder
Of course you need to use your head. Running around doing random actions is just silly. If that’s the stage of your sales game, you have bigger problems than thinking about “working smarter”.
But herein is one of the biggest lies in all of selling – that selling can be distilled down into a nice 7-step program.
Selling successfully requires mind-blowing amounts of raw effort. It’s not sexy, fun, or cute. It’s sweaty, gut-busting, manual labor.
And anything else you plan for is bound to blow up in your face. Most of us need to work harder – a lot harder. Are we really working to our full potential? Really?
Until you master the working harder part, you have no business even thinking about working smarter. It’s a lie that continues to cripple millions of sales people every day.
Easier usually means less effective. Remember that.
7. It’s all about putting more prospects in the top of the funnel.
Prospecting is always important. But all this “top of the funnel” chit-chat is another emotionally unintelligent way to dehumanize the selling process.
And, frankly, it’s not all that important. The bottom of the funnel is where you need to focus. You need to focus on delivering more value to your existing customers.
There is something simply magical about having your expectations blown away.
It’s the chocolate mint on your hotel room pillow. It’s getting your Amazon.com package a day earlier than you expected.
It’s hard to describe the delight at getting more than you paid for.
Most of us are so focused on prospecting, profit and loss ,and “what is fair” that we neglect the opportunity to create raving fans. And these raving fans are the evangelists who will get other people excited about what you do.
And that excitement and loyalty isn’t something that you can buy or market.
It can only happen when you over-deliver on the value you promise.
Stop believing the lies.
The conventional wisdom sales experts feed you can seem attractive.
But it’s likely to cost you the success you really want for you.
Just because it sounds good in a classroom doesn't mean that it will help you fight your way through the fog of business battle.
So what can you do?
- Think for yourself.
- Be creative.
- Question everything.
- Work your ass off (and then some).
- Live without limits.
You'll never need to worry about the revenue.
A slightly different version of this article first appeared in the inaugural edition of Top Sales World Magazine where Dan is a "sales expert".