The world of sales is such a cross-generational career that techniques, best practices, and philosophies often get passed on to those new to the profession, oftentimes overshadowing corporate onboarding and training efforts. What’s concerning about this is that commonly used sales practices from even just a few years ago may already be outdated and obsolete. Perhaps you yourself have been in this situation in which an older sales mentor taught you the ropes. While it can be immensely valuable to shadow a tenured colleague, it can also have a detrimental effect in that you may end up adopting some of the well-worn sales clichés of yesteryear.
With this blog, we’re taking a closer look at some of those clichés and why it’s time to abandon them.
Cliché #1: You Can Sell Anything to Anybody
This philosophy continues to permeate all sales levels, and it’s one we’ve seen in continual use since the dawn of mankind.
Just recently, during a job interview here at Janek Performance Group, one candidate wanted to impress when he said: “I can do it all. If I have to I’ll sell a pencil to a pencil factory.”
I had to smirk because while I appreciated his drive and confidence, it’s just not the right mindset anymore – to want to sell anything to anybody, in particular with B2B sales. Today, customers are looking to buy products that help them solve problems. By focusing on a customer’s challenges, you focus on their needs and try to bring value to what you’re selling.
In other words, customers and their needs are the key to sales today rather than pushing a product you know might not fit your key demographic. People don’t like forced sales tactics, and you need to know who your target base is before you reach out to prospective customers.
So if you’re still using this adage everywhere you go, statistics prove you really can’t sell anything to anybody. This comes through a major truism: It’s impossible to please everyone.
Cliché #2: The Customer is Always Right
No doubt you’ve heard this cliché more than once while working in sales. Adhering to the idea the customer knows everything only diminishes the value of what you can offer them. In reality, customers don’t always know what they want to buy.
You’ll find a lot of sales analysts who quote one of Steve Jobs’ most famous lines:
“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
It’s hard to argue, coming from one of the greatest tech (and sales) innovators of all time.
Despite customers often researching products before they buy, their research may not always be thorough or accurate. Don’t be afraid to put on your trusted advisor hat and challenge the customer’s thinking and bring new ideas to the table, as long as you do it tactfully and keep their best interests in mind.
Cliché #3: Always Be Closing
Remember the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross” and the old phrase “Always be closing“? It’s an example in how pop culture frequently shapes sales clichés to a point where they become stigma.
Let’s not forget that the character who says this is the worst example of a human being. Don’t think a sales career should become cutthroat like what the movies show.
Being an ethical salesperson won’t go unnoticed by your prospects. Use the quote “Always be helping” and you’ll see a successful sales process based squarely on solving problems for your customers.
As you can see, sales clichés don’t always work to your advantage in the times we’re living in. It’s never too late to reinvent your sales persona as a trusted advisor with every customer’s best interests in mind.
Do you have similar sales stereotypes to share? We’d love to hear about them by sharing in the comment section.