The topic of ‘lies, lying and liars’ is in the news a lot these days, so I want to discuss some of the lies that we’re told about sales. In all my 25 years of sales and sales management, I’ve rarely ever seen a salesperson consciously lie to a customer. I think some customers may THINK that they are being consistently lied to, but I personally just haven’t seen that happening. Unfortunately, most of the lying that I’ve seen is when salespeople are lying to themselves and when their sales management believes lies that they have been told and conditioned with in their management careers.
The successful salesperson doesn’t prejudge or assume…they don’t close their minds to possibilities. The successful salesperson doesn’t believe the lies.
Assuming the Customer Won’t Buy
This is a lie that many salespeople tell themselves. They believe that just because a customer didn’t buy a particular product in the past, that there is no way they would consider a similar new offering. This is a cancerous attitude because it can infect the entire way you manage your business and, for that fact, your career. The best salespeople put previous setbacks with customers behind them and view each new product offering as a new opportunity. They don’t assume anything…they carefully prepare for the customer meeting and start fresh. If you had a good understanding from your customer as to why they didn’t purchase last time, you can use that knowledge as the basis for the new proposal. As I’ve mentioned before, objections and ‘not making the sale’ can be of enormous benefit in making the next RFP and closing the sale next time. It’s important to turn your frustration into action and always go into a meeting with an optimistic attitude.
“Just Make the Sale, We’ll Figure Out the Details Later”
This is something that I’ve heard before from certain of my own managers and also witnessed other peer sales managers tell their teams. This type of attitude is a direct result of too much focus on the short-term (the current quarter) without taking into consideration the long-term relationship with your customer. And it’s a lie, too.
When a sales team is directed to sell this way, they will actually significantly harm their customer relationships because the customer will not view them as a partner, looking out for the customer’s interests, but as a vendor who is only in it for themselves. Even if you, as a reputable salesperson, try to avoid selling this way, you can oftentimes destroy your marketplace credibility if you are tainted with this kind of sales approach. If your company is currently selling with this type of approach, it is a huge red flag and you should view this as your ‘early warning system’ to begin to look for another job. Your reputation within your own industry and with your customers is pure gold and while it takes years to establish, it can be destroyed in an instant.
“Hard-ass Managing is the way to Run a Sales Team”
Just about every salesperson I’ve ever known has had one of these types of managers…one who assumes the worst about their sales team and treats them as such. There is a deep level of intimidation in many of these types of sales managers and they believe that their ‘hard-ass’ approach is the way to motivate the team, by fear, to achieve their revenue goals. This is also a lie.
The best sales managers that I’ve worked with are unfailingly optimistic, and they believe in their sales teams. Motivating a sales team is part art, part science. My experience has shown me that a supportive management team will not only be better motivators but will bring in more business with less team turnover. Turnover is important because each new salesperson takes at least three months, in my experience, before they are fully up to speed. People, not only salespeople, want to work for someone they trust and believe has their best interests in mind. The role of the sales manager is to deliver against the company revenue goals but to also help to promote and develop their team members. The sales manager’s goal should also be to leave their team in better shape than they found it.
The best salespeople I’ve known are realists about where they are with their business and with their careers. These sales superstars don’t lie to themselves and they treat their customers as they would want to be treated themselves.