Sales can seem intimidating, especially if they aren’t going as well as you had hoped. They take a lot of self-motivation, drive and persistence. A good sales person doesn’t only have to find qualified leads, but also has to convert them and have a consistent sales strategy.
Sales managers also carry a huge weight of responsibilities on their shoulders, as they are directly responsible for the financial prosperity of an organisation and its growth. Here are the most popular sales misconceptions that are causing sales managers to sell less and how to deal with them.
Sales Myth 1 – Cold Calling is dead
For some reason more and more sales managers have come to believe that using a phone for cold calling is ineffective. The phone, however, is a critical tool for all stages of a sales funnel and cold calling still remains a great way to find new leads and get customers’ attention.
The reason that most sales teams find cold calling a waste of time, is simple – they aren’t doing it right! It’s always much easier to say that this or that tactic doesn’t work, rather than analyse why this is happening. Cold calling, though difficult, does work, if approached correctly.
Just think about it, an average business person receives approximately 115 emails a day. He is bound to remember a company that called rather than emailed, isn’t he?
One of the biggest problems of cold calling is outdated data. Nearly 20% of contact information held by sales teams is outdated. And that’s understandable, as according to ZoomInfo, in 1 year 30% of people change jobs, 66% of people change their title or job function, 43% of people change work phone numbers, and 37% of people change their email address.
This means that the sales process created, may easily be irrelevant to the audience you are trying to reach, or you are simply knocking on the wrong door.
Another big issue with cold calling, is due diligence and pitch. According to Hubspot, only 37% of prospects feel salespeople who’d made cold calls to them had delivered information relevant to their needs, while almost 75% of salespeople thought they were spot-on with what they knew and pitched.
This goes to show, that sales people aren’t preparing correctly for their calls and aren’t personalising their pitches enough for each separate lead.
Finally, both of the points above are probably happening because the sales manager simply doesn’t have the time. A study by Pace Productivity discovered that sales teams spend 35% of their time on administrative paperwork and 22% on selling.
Instead of focusing on their sales approach and preparing well for a call, sales managers are wasting time on unneeded tasks, that can easily be automated.
So, how can you fix these issues and start seeing real results from cold calling? Invest in IT. Thanks to technology, it has now become easier to build a portfolio of your potential customers and segment leads into groups. By working closer with the marketing team and using tools like a CRM, sales teams can target companies and individuals in a more specific and effective way. More than that, a CRM can help to automate data management, create dynamic dashboards and maintain control on lead status.
Sales Myth 2 – Social media is not for Sales
Social media has opened up a fountain of opportunities for salespeople all over the world, however sadly, most are still keeping a blind eye towards it. We believe this happens because social platforms are a whole new territory and sales teams simply don’t understand how to use them.
But while, sales teams are just beginning to open to the world of social media, their clients have already established it as one of their main opinion influencers.
According to a study by BrandFog, 82% of buyers believe a company is more trustworthy if it’s active on social media and 77% of buyers are more likely to buy from a company if the CEO is active on it too.
If you are serious about sales, you must be on Social media, full stop.
But where should you start? Which channel should you focus on most? If we had to choose just 1 channel to focus on at the start, it would be LinkedIn. Why, would you ask? Because nearly half of buyers search for potential vendors on LinkedIn and 82% of buyers look up providers on it before they respond to their outreach efforts.
So, tell your sales managers to join groups, connect with members on shared interests, add potential clients to their network and try approaching them online. Targeting through social media allows your sales team to approach potential clients’ decision makers directly, avoiding being stopped by assistants and lower key managers.
Sales Myth 3 – Creating a sales strategy is easy
A lot of people wrongly imagine selling to be a one-person function. In reality, a well-oiled sales strategy involves a whole team of people working together on achieving that long-awaited deal. This is why creating a successful working sales strategy, can turn out to be much harder than your sales team believes it to be.
Firstly, it is wrong to believe that selling is only about the numbers. You can call 10 leads, and convert 9 of them, yet call 100 and convert none. This is why you need to focus on creating an onboarding process focused entirely on the needs and wants of your potential customers. Shift your perspective from just closing, to listening and learning.
When leads are researched and nurtured, customers end up making 47% larger purchases. This means, that instead of focusing on quantity, your strategy needs to rather focus on quality.
Another important realisation your sales team needs to come to, is that prospects won’t be rushing to you on their own. You need to be where your prospects are. By planning out your collaboration with marketing, you will be able to plan your campaigns and promo ads, that will help to bring leads in. If your sales strategy doesn’t involve these, the chances are it won’t achieve the results you are hoping for.
The more effort you put into planning, the more deals you will be able to close.
Last, but definitely not least, make sure your team understands that there is no such thing as a “bad season” in selling. When you are committed and have put in the work, your sales funnel will have a constant flow. Remember, you and your team are in control of the selling process, not the other way around.
Sales Myth 4 – Only the right type of salespeople can sell
The idea that good salespeople are all extroverts, is a huge misconception. Sometimes, introverts are actually better at sales simply because they are better listeners and thus are more focused on their leads.
It doesn’t matter if you are a “people person” or not, if you don’t know when to stop talking and start listening, you won’t be able to become a successful sales manager.
According to statistics, the prospect should be doing at least 80% of the talking, while the salesperson fills in the remaining 20% with questions, that would help them personalise their pitch. This just proves that in sales it’s not about who talks the most, but rather about who asks the right questions.
As Tony J. Hughes, a bestselling author and award-winning blogger, well put – “Warriors of Persuasion must learn to become engineers of Value.”
Tell your team to make sure they are also talking to potential clients in a clear way. If the client doesn’t understand what you are saying, they will start feeling annoyed and uncomfortable, which definitely won’t help you close the deal.
Finally, make sure your team is focused on building and nurturing long-term relationships with your clients, rather than saying whatever is needed to make a sale. Honesty is the only thing that will help you form a strong loyal client base.
Sales Myth 5 – Fear the customer
You will be surprised to know; how many sales managers are actually scared of approaching a new customer. They feel uncomfortable performing cold calls and feel lost when they are expected to find new channels of communication. Not only is this wrong on so many levels for your business, this is also wrong from their own professional growth perspective.
Just because you reached out once to a client, doesn’t mean that you should leave it at that. Research has discovered, that it takes 8 attempts to get an agreement. Meaning, that it can take you 8 approaches to get a meeting and another 8 to sign a deal.
If you did your research well, and you know that your product or service will interest your buyers, call them! Buyers prefer to have a human interaction, rather than to read information online. While on the call, don’t be afraid to ask questions that will help you to move the sale forward and to engage. Be enthusiastic and not too corporate.
The maximum number of questions you can ask, before your prospects start feeling like they are under interrogation, is 14, according to Gong.io.
Another good idea, that can help sales managers be more prepared to talk to new customers, is to prepare scripts or conversation plans prior to the call. This way there is a guide to follow and it’s harder to go off topic and get lost. Don’t make these scripts too detailed and focus on jotting down the main pointers. Personalise them for each client and adjust it to fit different communication styles.
One pitch doesn’t fit all, so make sure to take a different approach each time, basing it on the knowledge you have on the prospect.
Don’t be afraid of hearing “No”. It’s actually good to hear a negative response, because it gives you something to work with and can help you get better. If a customer tells you “No”, ask them why. Maybe, they simply didn’t understand the value your product or service brings to them, and you need to be more thorough in your explanations.
By creating a sense of value for your prospects you are also lowering pricing expectations. If your prospects understand how valuable your offer is for them, price will become less of a factor, and they will stop trying to bargain for it to be lower.
Once your potential client understands the urgency of your offer, their budget issue will disappear.