For more than 20 years the KONA Group has been increasing sales effectiveness in many organisations and across several industries. That includes, Banking & Finance, Professional Services & Consulting, IT&T, FMCG, Building & Engineering, as well as Pharma & Medical. And while many articles have been written about the ‘Black Art’ of sales, unfortunately many don’t pass the test for sound psychology or practical reality. Furthermore, many add to a growing world of sales myths and falsehoods.

So, having worked with thousands of Salespeople and Sales Managers, in no particular order, following are KONA’s observations on the common myths about the Sales Profession:

Sales Myth 1: Top Academic Grades Equal Top Sales Results

Fact: Academic qualifications do NOT guarantee sales results. In fact, they often work against a Salesperson. Research has proven that it is easier to teach basic engineering concepts to a sales professional than it is to teach an academic “genius” to sell.

Sales Myth 2: The Best Salespeople Have “The Gift Of The Gab”, “Can Talk Under Water” and “Sell Ice To Eskimos”

Fact: Sales is a Process, just like any other profession. It is no different to a manufacturing conveyor belt. If you do things out of order, cut corners, or don’t manage the ‘human element’, results will be no where near what they could be. Also, the best Salespeople are the ones who are clear about which companies they want to deal with, who they want to speak with, what they are going to speak about, “what keeps the customer awake at night” and how they can add Value to the customers business (and role), not just reasons to buy their products.

Sales Myth 3: The Best Salespeople Will Make The Best Managers

Fact: When you convert a sales superstar into a manager, typically three things happen:

  1. You lose a great Salesperson
  2. You gain a mediocre (or worse) manager as most new managers are thrown into the role without any help, especially in their first 90 days in the role
  3. Customers suffer in the transition time
Sales Myth 4: Salespeople are Lazy and Out There “Eating and Drinking for Australia”

Fact: This is a common misconception brought about by hiring the wrong Salespeople for the job; or the right Salesperson for the wrong job; and/or poor Sales Management. Good Salespeople have the desire and commitment to succeed and require guidance, coaching and to be held accountable for their performance.

Sales Myth 5: All Salespeople are Motivated by Money

Fact: Good Salespeople seek 3 things: independence, achievement and financial reward. Money, including earning bonuses, does motivate some Salespeople to achieve a short term objective. However not every salesperson is motivated in this way and the manager is best to link their motivation strategy to what the Salesperson is going to spend their bonuses on, rather than just the bonus itself

Also, Salespeople are motivated by recognition, achievement and status for long term goals. What does their next 3 years look like? How will the manager help them to be successful.

Sales Myth 6: Good Salespeople Know How to Split Their Time Effectively Between Account Management and Prospecting

Fact: The best “hunters” who are great at new business development and prospecting rarely make good “farmers” who retain and service existing customers well. True ‘hunters’ get bored behind a desk and likewise, customer service people and tele-marketers with great personalities over the telephone don’t do as well in the field

Sales Myth 7: Salespeople Only Need Product Knowledge to be Successful

Fact: Why is an average of 90% of all induction programmes focused on internal procedures and product knowledge, and less than 10% on the conversations the Salesperson must have with customers?

Research proves that the conversations the customer has with the salesperson plays the single biggest role (39%) in a customer’s purchasing decision. While product knowledge is important, if the Salesperson does not focus their  conversations on the customers business they run the risk of being just “another product flogging, brochure dropping, order taking, rep”.

Sales Myth 8: The Internet and/or Creating A Better Product Will Drive Customers To Your Door

Fact: Linked to the Myth # 7, nearly 85% of all new products patented in the Patent Office never succeed in the real world. And companies that don’t offer “real people” to relate to and consult with customers are over seven times more likely to fail.

Sales Myth 9: Experienced and/or Motivated Salespeople Immediately Know To Do When They Join Your Team

Fact: Far too many Managers do not provide clear directions and expectations (especially in behaviour, minimum standards and customer conversations) to their new team members. In addition, in many companies Sales Managers are spending too much time behind their desk on ‘very important reports and strategies’ instead of getting in the field and coaching their people every month.

Sales Myth 10: Telling Salespeople They are Doing a Good Job Makes Them Arrogant Then Complacent

Fact: This is NOT true.  Poor management lets Salespeople become complacent. Recognition for a job well done, be it behaviours demonstrated or results achieved, motivates the salesperson to go back out and achieve again. However if good sales performance goes unrecognised low morale and low performance will follow, for the Salesperson AND their colleagues.

Sales Myth 11: A Well Thought Out Strategy Will Ensure Sales Success

Fact: No matter how much time and effort has been put into a strategy it is EXECUTED when the Salesperson is Face to Face with a customer. If their conversations skills are not up to standard and of Value to the customer, then your strategy will be a waste of time and effort. So what are your people talking about?

Sales Myth 12: Putting a Salesperson on a Generic, Off the Shelf Public Training Course will ‘Fix Them’

Fact: Training works, as long as it is a) relevant to them, and b) followed up by coaching. Unfortunately too many Managers send their people onto a ‘tick the box’ off the shelf , by the book training course, then don’t follow up with the Salesperson in the filed to ensure they put the training into practice. (I am sure you have never heard your Salespeople say “it was good, but won’t work with my customers, on my area, with my products”…)

Going forward: So, what type of Salespeople and Sales Managers do you have? And what type of Salespeople and Sales Managers do you need for the next 3 years? If you need help designing a customised, fun and highly charged training program to help you win more customers and grow your market share, contact KONA today on 1300 611 288 info@kona.com.au for a confidential conversation.