Since most salespeople do not have a formal education in selling, other than the schooling of experience and mentoring, they become fair game to believing myths, urban legends and partial truths.  

I have listed ten common myths accompanied by the true sales principles. In most cases, the myth and the truth are not far apart. However, the results of applying the true principle versus the myth are miles apart.  Apply the true principles and enjoy a significant increase in your sales performance.

  1. It is good to either be the first salesperson or the last to talk to a prospect.  Some salespeople think by being either the first thing on the prospect’s mind or the last thing on their mind gives them an advantage. It doesn’t really matter.  The key to making a sale is to discover what the prospect really needs and then help them to achieve it. Build rapport and trust, then demonstrate you really understand their needs.  Present the right solution based on your knowledge and experience with a vast base of happy customers. This will put you in the best position to make the sale.

  2. The key to sales success is found in hard work.  Working hard is important to sales success, but you must be working hard doing the right things.  If you aren’t doing what needs to be done, it doesn’t matter how hard you work. The most successful salespeople know their sales process and they work hard doing only those things that will bring them closer to making the sale.  Just as motion is not necessarily progress, neither is working hard the solution to more sales. Working hard at doing the right things is the key to sales success.

  3. Practice makes perfect.  All of my early life, I believed that practice made perfect.  Practice makes permanent! If you practice religiously doing something incorrectly, you will become extremely good at doing something incorrectly.  If you want to become perfect at something, you must practice doing that thing perfectly. Repeat after me, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” Learn the correct sales principles and skills, then commit yourself to practicing them perfectly.

  4. The one who speaks the most wins the sale.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Telling is not selling and will never be the answer to more sales.  The salesperson who engages the prospect and learns all they can about the needs, wants, desires, ambitions and dreams of the prospect will learn enough to make the sales.  They key to selling is found in listening. The person who listens the most will know what to do in order to make the sale. You can’t talk and listen at the same time. If you can only do one, make it listening.   Your sales will increase dramatically.

  5. Getting thru the presentation without any objections is good.  There is an ill-conceived notion that if the prospect doesn’t verbalize an objection or concern, then there must not be any.  Not true! People don’t buy if they have concerns or objections, and just because they don’t express them doesn’t mean they don’t have them.  Objections and concerns are good; this is a sign of interest. Give the prospect an opportunity to express their concerns. Get them all out on the table so they can be understood and resolved; talk about them, resolve them, then make the sale.  Ask the prospect to tell you their concerns. Ask the question, “Besides that, is there anything else?” Keep asking until they tell you there are no more concerns. The resolution of concerns creates a dialogue, and the dialogue is critical to closing the sale.

  6. The customer is always right.  Guess what?  The customer is not always right.  Sometimes the customer is very wrong.  However, the customer will always be the customer and if you don’t treat them right, no matter how wrong they may be, you will never make the sale.  Lead and guide them to the right conclusion through diplomatic questioning. Never forget, without a customer, you are out of business.

  7. Sell the prospect what they tell you they want.  This one sounds good, but sounding good has nothing to do with the truth.  A customer will never be happy if you sell them what they want. You will lose future opportunities to sell to them and you will lose potential referrals if you sell them what they want.  The subtlety here is to sell them what they need. Very often the prospect will tell you what they want, which isn’t what they need. After realizing what you sold them is not what they needed, they will be unhappy and blame you completely.  After all, you are the one who sold them. The prospect doesn’t care that you sold them what they asked for if it doesn’t solve their problem. Sell the prospect what they need, or you will wish you had.

  8. Telling is selling.  Selling is the process of understanding the needs of the prospect, then helping them achieve those needs.  Listening is selling. By the way, listening is much more difficult than talking, and delivers a more profitable result.

  9. Great products sell themselves.  I would be willing to venture there are more incredible products that never gained approval from the buying public than there are incredible products we all buy and use.  Why? Great products don’t sell themselves, salespeople sell them. I don’t care how wonderful, unique or perfectly engineered your product might be. If you don’t present it as a solution to someone’s needs, they probably won’t buy it.  From a salesperson’s point of view, it is an absolute advantage to have the best product or service within your industry. However, if you don’t sell it, no one will buy it.

  10. The same salesperson can’t sell effectively in different industries.  Every business wants to believe their product is unique and special.  Because of this thought, they believe a salesperson must be specialized with years of experience in an industry to be successful.  Don’t flatter yourself with this narrow band of thought. Selling is selling and the same principles apply regardless of product or industry.  Selling is comprised of 40% sales skills, 40% attitude and 20% product knowledge. A salesperson who has excellent skills and a great attitude is capable of selling any product or service.