Here’s a summary of common beliefs salespeople have that will do them more harm than good.
1. I need to educate my prospect; presentation skills are my most effective tool. Premature presentations are the biggest challenge salespeople face today. Let’s face it, no one ever lost a sale by listening too much. When you’re educating, you’re talking. When you’re talking it’s difficult to understand your prospect’s challenges and he will realize that and conclude that you bring little value to the relationship. Your job is to qualify your prospect and investigative skills are your most effective tool.
2. Everyone needs what I sell; hearing “no” is a failure. If you feel that “no” is a failure, you’ll resist it at all costs, creating a pressure filled atmosphere that will turn a skeptical prospect into a defensive prospect who’s main objective is to get rid of you. If you believe that everybody needs what you sell, it’s difficult to be objective. The buyer will conclude that your self-interest is greater than your desire to help. A more productive belief is that not everyone is a prospect for what I sell and “no” is not a failure as long as I’ve qualified the opportunity adequately.
3. When the prospect says, “I need to think it over,” there’s still a chance. Many “think it over’s” are just slow “no’s” with a free torture treatment. Prospects rarely say “no” to salespeople even when they have little or no intention to buy. They believe that it is polite not to hurt the salesperson’s feelings or they want to avoid the pressure that they feel the salesperson will apply when rejected. Sometimes prospects won’t say “no” simply so they can bring the salesperson back to pick their brains for more information. Instead, you’ll be put in the chase mode, making a long sales cycle even longer. You should be skeptical (not reassured) when your prospect tells you that he needs to “think it over.”
4. My features and benefits differentiate me from my competitors; they give me an advantage. Face it, most salespeople show up with the same tired old platitudes (‘we have the best quality in the industry, our service is outstanding and our prices are very competitive”). It’s called “fluff.” If you rely on features and benefits, you’re probably going to sound just like everybody else, and your prospect may conclude that what you sell is just a commodity. When you’re perceived as a commodity, price becomes the most important buying criteria. Bad news for you.
5. My job is to convince my prospect that he would benefit from purchasing from me; I need to be a good closer. This is an antiquated belief and bound to lead to resistance. Following this belief will encourage you to put pressure on the prospect to buy. People resist pressure in a relationship sale; it’s just human nature. The prospect’s job to convince you that he has a problem, the budget and the decision-making ability to fix it and needs your help. Try this attitude on your next sales interview and see how it will change your approach.
6. Financial considerations are the most important factor in determining who gets the business. This belief puts the emphasis on price and that’s not what you want. Price is very seldom the real issue in a complex sale. Conviction that you can help them solve their problem and get a return on their investment is the bottom line. If you can help them increase their business or save them money, your price is relative to their gain.
7. If my prospects like me, they will buy from me. Trust and rapport are important but the real issue is whether or not the prospect thinks you can solve their problem. If they do, you’re likely to get the business.