The Five Terrible Lies About Selling

By Len Foley

Terrible Lie #1: You need to sell more to make more money.

Fact: You need to sell less to make more money. I have a motto: In order to sell more, you must first learn to sell less, a whole lot less. Sound crazy? I have a friend who just moved from selling photocopier machines to selling Mercedes-Benzes in the most prestigious dealership in New England. His secret? While selling photocopiers, he did the exact opposite of what everyone else in his company was doing.  He focused less on selling and more on why his customers wanted to buy. In fact, he stopped selling altogether and made his mission to discover precisely how he could solve more problems for his customers than anyone else in his company. He not only solved more problems, he made more money and opened up more opportunities than any other copier salesman in his industry.

Terrible Lie #2: Most salespeople are full of themselves.

Fact: The world’s best salespeople are full of other people. In my seminars, I play a little game with the audience. I say, “It’s the last week of the month and you haven’t made half your quota. Your boss is on your case and you may lose your job if you don’t make three sales in the next two hours.”

Okay? So it’s 9:30 in the morning and you need to make a sale.  You pick up the phone to make your first call. So here’s my question – what in the world is going through your head as you dial the telephone?

The typical responses from the audience include: “I wonder if I’ll make this sale?” “I hope she says yes,” and “This call better not turn out like the rest.”

To these responses I ask, “As long as you’re thinking about yourself, how interested will you be in finding out how you can help your prospect?”

The typical answer is, “Not too interested at all!”

If you’re not interested in your prospect, why in the world would your prospect ever become interested in you?

Terrible Lie #3: Selling is one of the worst paid professions on the planet.

Fact: Selling is the highest paid profession on the planet. After spending thousands of hours studying some of the richest salespeople alive (people like Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, and Mary Kay Ash), I came upon two very surprising realizations:

  1. The world’s greatest salespeople never appear to be selling anything at all.  In fact, you’ll never catch a great salesperson making any irritating sales pitches or initiating a single close.
  2. Despite the fact that the world’s greatest salespeople don’t appear to be selling anything, they still manage to outsell every one of their competitors! Remember, when most of us think of a typical salesperson we think of a pushy used car salesman or an annoying insurance representative. However, these so-called salespeople aren’t really salespeople at all; they’re professional peddlers or cashiers in fancy suits. In fact, successful business executives and celebrities are also good salespeople.  Which leads us to Terrible Lie #4

Terrible Lie #4: Great salespeople use slimy tactics.

Fact: The world’s best salespeople hardly use any tactics at all. Selling, in the traditional definition of the word, is a crude pursuit. We think of selling as using deceptive gestures, words, and emotional appeals to persuade and manipulate prospects into doing something he may or may not want to do.

Now, do you really think Steve Jobs became one of the most beloved CEOs in the world by using ridiculous, simple-minded sales tactics? What about Mary Kay Ash? Can you imagine her using “Leading Questions” or a “Porcupine Close” on national television?

Of course not! The world’s greatest salespeople wouldn’t be caught dead using crude, slimy selling techniques. They interact with thousands or even millions of people each year.  They make the most money, attract the most opportunities, and effortlessly rise to the top of every profession without resorting to these techniques.

Terrible Lie #5: Great salespeople have the gift of gab.

Fact: The world’s best salespeople have the gift of listening. Professional salespeople also enjoy listening to their prospects, they’re not simply waiting for their turn to speak.  Great salespeople never look for what their prospects can do for them.  Instead, they are intensely interested in what they can do for their prospects!

[From Connection MagazineNovember 2003]

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