In sales, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. You might discover the latest trend everyone’s touting isn’t so effective after all. On the flip side, trying out a new technique might lead to amazing results. The better you become at learning what’s hype and what’s real, the more successful you’ll ultimately be.
Here are the following 20 most common sales myths I’ve come across. Please feel free to add to my list -- or challenge it -- in the comments.
1) Sellers crush it.
In some industries, less than 50% of salespeople achieve quota. They like to say they "crush it” -- but crushing it is the exception, not the rule.
2) Managers can sell. Sellers can manage.
Actually, the skill sets are typically mutually exclusive. Eagle reps seldom ever become effective sales leaders.
3) The phone is dead.
It's actually more critical than ever to use the phone at every stage of the sales funnel. Call reluctance is a pandemic.
4) Personalizing your digital outreach works better.
The wrong type of personalization can actually drive away prospects. Researching their personal hobbies and background (versus their industry and company) can turn them off. You don’t need to be the buyer’s friend -- stick to their professional background.
5) When companies raise a ton of money, they're doing well.
It's usually because they're burning through cash at an alarming rate ($2 million plus per month) and are simply trying to keep the lights on -- often diluting themselves. Raising a huge round may also be a sign they haven't figured out product/ market fit and are treading water while they search for an answer.
6) A company hires sellers because it's doing well and expanding.
In reality, a boost in sales hiring typically occurs because revenue is down, sales staff churn is up, the culture is "Lord of the Flies," bad management has eroded moral, the CEO has stepped in to destroy the sales strategy through micro-management, or the worst offender: They need a miracle from field sellers to save the company from mortal peril.
7) If you call 100 people, you'll connect with many.
Truthfully, you’ll usually make contact with two or three prospects for every 100 you call. To stand out, you must use sequences of short voicemails, texts, emails, and social touches. You dramatically lift your odds of success when you get the prospect’s mobile phone number.
8) Just get referrals.
Yes, a referral -- a.k.a. a warm introduction -- is the highest probability path to revenue. But newsflash, modern sales organizations are adopting an Account Based Marketing (ABM) approach. The majority hunt in named territories so if you don't break through, you're out of luck.
9) Account Executives shouldn't hunt, and SDRs shouldn't close.
Building the ultimate sales machine worked for a brief time in the early 2000s before every tech company implemented this approach. CXOs are frustrated with the lack of continuity from meeting setter to closing salesperson. They won't bother with being put through the sausage grinder. Do your due diligence on the list, value proposition and Ideal Prospect Profile, and fire away yourself.
At the end of the day -- and from the beginning of the call -- you must be able to carry the right conversation. The senior salesperson is best equipped to carry the value narrative to the decision-maker and this has to happen right from the get-go!
10) “Sales AI” is all hype.
I met with the CEO of Complexica, Matt Michalewicz, and it was like smoking dynamite. Matt literally blew my mind. AI can save your sales career and help you drive amazing results.
11) Only add who you know on LinkedIn.
I've been getting into furious debates over this one. Read Reid Hoffman's first book, “The Startup of You.” The power of your LinkedIn network is like a Richter scale. It's geometrically more powerful at 5,000 than 2,500 connections, not twice as powerful. Cultivate the "Strength of Weak Ties” -- don't get siloed with who you know. Network at trade shows, join online groups, and connect around shared interests. Trust me: Go do the research.
12) Texting and Facebook transforms sellers into social pariahs.
This is simply not true. You should be using cell phones to your advantages -- texting salespeople directly, connecting with prospects on Facebook, and chatting to them whenever possible. Try it!
13) Extroverts win in sales.
Just because you're a “people person” doesn't mean you'll be great in sales. The bottom of the leaderboard is filled with “professional visitors,” and fluffy narcissists never make it in the board room. Knowledge is power and this is why skeptical, Challenger sales engineers that go into quota-carrying new business actually can "crush it." As the complexity increases, engineers of value are far more effective than warriors of persuasion.
14) LinkedIn is about a personal brand.
It was approximately five years ago. Any serious seller should be on LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Period. End of story. You should be tracking your best prospects and interacting with their content through blended approaches. Here is a post about advanced Navigator techniques ... try them and see your results soar!
15) The greatest trigger event is a funding round.
Not true. In “Shift!: Harness The Trigger Events That Turn Prospects Into Customers,” Craig Elias and Tibor Shanto proved the strongest trigger is the job change.
The average Fortune 1000 CIO spends approximately $1 million in their first 90 days -- their mission is to shake up the status quo. Every time there’s a job change, you get four leads. Monitor internal promotions and lateral moves as well. Again, LinkedIn is your go-to resource.
16) It takes as much effort to close a six-figure deal as a seven-figure one.
It actually takes more with tire-kicker tiny deals trying to POC and do pilots. These folks are incorrigible -- you'll never win. Cut bait and only focus on household names and dream clients you'll be proud to win.
17) You can wait for buyers to complete 57% of their buying process.
That's just lazy. Interruption is magical. You've got to create desire and uncover the pain points your prospects don’t know about yet.
18) Sellers are making over a million dollars a year.
Yes, under 1% globally do. You could probably find a unicorn if you chased enough rainbows and lost your mind.
19) If you're missing your quota, it's 100% your fault.
Many companies have broken cultures, bad management, and products that would never sell in any market. Don't beat yourself up about it. Do what Lee Bartlett does and rigorously vet the companies you’re considering joining. Talk to their current and former reps, call their customer service, and even interview their current and former clients. Do their customers believe their product is a necessity, or a “nice-to-have”?
20) Multi-tasking makes you more efficient.
You can't multi-task, so stop what you’re doing and go lock yourself in a room to knock 30 calls, voicemails, texts, and emails off of your to-do list. Why are you still reading this?
Which myths did I miss? Do you agree?
Editor's note: This post originally appeared on LinkedIn and has been republished here with permission.