The more I talk to people about sales, the more myths I find. Recently I was engaged by two great business owners, who were told through sales assessments that they were not good sales people. I was shocked. Yes, there are definitely areas where they could improve. However, they are very likable people, listen well, and ask good questions. On top of it, they are passionate about what they do. Great attributes for sales people. So here are a few of my pet peeves when it comes to myths.

Myth Number 1: Selling is a numbers game.

Yes, No, Maybe. Sales are about people, not numbers. Let’s talk about quality, not quantity. If you do not have a clear value message targeted to the right market, with some basic means of connection, it can be very frustrating for any sales force. If you believe contacting 50 prospects and getting 1 appointment is part of the job, have fun. I admire your tenacity and your persistence, and you will get business. However, something is wrong with this picture, and you are working too hard for too little. So, sales managers and sales people: let’s not get too hung up on the numbers and focus on improving the messages and the quality of the calls.

Myth Number 2: Cold Calling is dead.

Cold calling is alive and well. Through social media, the internet, and all the other tools available there is no need to make a totally cold call. Let’s call it Tepid Calling instead. Every call must have some type of connection. The connection can be as simple as you know some of the same people, you are both members of the same group, you went to the same school. Just find somehow how you are related. Relying strictly on e-newsletters, blogging, and networking to get business is like watching water boil. It is impossible for marketing to furnish a perfect lead every time. We must pick up the phones and call. Yes, customers are getting barraged by callers, so make sure that your call has a purpose, there is a connection, and it is targeted. Have a quick compelling statement on how you can save someone time, trouble, or money and just want to explore the investment/opportunity. Don’t oversell.

Myth Number 3: You must have a Relationship with someone before they buy.

I don’t want to dismiss the importance of relationships for long-term sales. The relationship is important, trust is imperative. I can cite for you many B2B instances where I made big sales the first time I visited a prospect. However, the company already was a known and TRUSTED brand, and I asked the purposeful questions to get the sale. We buy many things where we have no existing relationship. Relationship and the bigger the sale the more important the relationship of trust and reliability come into play.

Myth Number 4: Knowing, having and using a Sales Process will have immediate effects.

Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe in a sales process. However, it is a roadmap and not a railroad track. Sales people by nature don’t follow rules, so it is hard to keep them on a disciplined track. It’s comparable to a golf swing or hitting a baseball. There are certain basics which must be adhered to, but everyone has a different style. The sales process is only as good as your ability to improve, shorten, and modify it. It is not the end, but the beginning in understanding and helping sales representatives be more effective.

Myth Number 5: Ask as many Open Ended Questions as possible to Engage prospects.

Yes, and No. Questions are vital and extremely important. In fact, I think the shortest sales course in the world is “Ask Questions and Listen”. However, the questions must be purposeful. Asking questions that are too detailed early in the sales process can actually turn a prospect off. Additionally, not waiting for an answer or not really considering can have a negative effect.

If there are other myths you would like to add, please make comments. If you want to discuss a myth and how to overcome it, please do contact me.

Contributed by: Allan Himmelstein,