Which sales clichés need to be retired? We often use proverbs to convey nuggets of insight in a simple way. Many come from hundreds of years of wisdom and stay true to this day. Others, although resonating with our personal experiences, have been proven woefully wrong. For instance, neuroscience has proven that “old dogs can be taught new tricks” with the discovery of neuroplasticity. When it comes to sales clichés, there are three in particular that will harm your selling if you don’t retire them!
Sales Clichés #1: “Always Be Closing”
In the 1982 movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Blake (Alec Baldwin) inspires his sales team with an over-the-top bravado “motivational” speech. He implores his people to follow the ABC of sales – Always Be Closing. In today’s selling environment, seeing prospects as plebs to be bullied into buying is the fastest way to lose trust and credibility.
The partial truth: To be fair, what I do agree with in this philosophy is that in order for a sale to progress, the salesperson does need to ask for incremental commitments. For example, on the first call you might “close” for the appointment. At the appointment, you might “close” the prospect on agreeing to review your proposal, and so forth.
The alternative: Rather than viewing our prospects as prey, we need to start viewing them as potential partners in business. I’d much prefer to replace “Always Be Closing” with “Close a sale, open a relationship.” This mentality leads to mutual gain and benefit, where the client is the bigger winner.
Sales Clichés #2: “He could sell ice to Eskimos”
This phrase is often used to describe fast-talking gun-slinging salespeople. They are go-getters, and would do anything to make the sale. If you ask me, a person that sells ice to Eskimos fits into one of two categories. They are either a con man, or a drug dealer.
The alternative: Never sell anything to a person who won’t benefit from your product! In order to determine this, you will need to do comprehensive research and consulting with the prospect. Qualify them to see if there is a business case. If not, tell them that you don’t think there is a good match! Not only will you save yourself an angry client, you’ll increase your credibility for future referrals and sales!
Sales Clichés #3: “Sales is a numbers game”
If this were true, why not hire a monkey to do a salesperson’s job? Success in sales comes about from the right attitudes, skills, and hard work. I once met a salesperson who booked one appointment from every 100 calls they made, while I averaged one in 30. I’m not trying to brag, but to simply point out that a few simple changes to my calling script yielded a much higher conversion rate.
The partial truth: “But Ben, by quoting those numbers, aren’t you just proving it is a numbers game?” Not quite, my friend. Numbers are important for creating data to find areas that need improvement, but focusing only on numbers is a sure way to de-humanise a salesperson’s work. This in turn will reduce their job satisfaction, morale, and performance.
The alternative: Sales is about creating value in people’s lives. The more convicted you are on this point, the more effective you will be. Selling with conviction is much more persuasive than selling with desperation to meet your quota!
In today’s selling environment, we need to see sales as opening a relationship, a qualifying process, and a profession of skill and improving lives. Let’s retire these outdated clichés and move with the times!
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