SALES

6 Silly Myths About Selling

No doubt you've heard some of these pieces of advice. The problem is, they don't work.
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There's a lot of bullsh*t about selling floating around the business world. Here are some popular examples of what passes for "wisdom"--and why each is awful advice.

Myth 1. Friendliness counts!

Customers deeply resent it when a seller is too friendly too quickly. Customers don't really want to be friends; they want you to help them solve a problem or create an opportunity. If you work together for a while, friendship might develop, but until then, customers want professionalism, not friendliness.

Myth 2. Fake it till you make it

Customers, like all normal human beings, immediately sense it when another person is not being genuine.  More than anything else, customers want honesty from their vendors and suppliers. If you're pretending to be something or somebody you're not, you're raising all sorts of red flags.

Myth 3. Always be closing (ABC)

Customers hate being pushed and really hate pushy sellers. Customers want you to have their best interests at heart and to help them make the best decision, even if that decision is to buy elsewhere or not to buy at all. That's impossible when you're concentrating on closing the sale.

Myth 4. Never take no for an answer

Customers do sometimes say no when they actually mean maybe and want you to help them understand why they might reconsider. However, if you ignore that no as if it didn't exist and keep on pushing and selling, you'll turn it the maybe into a NO!

Myth 5. Sell the sizzle, not the steak

What's meant by this maxim is that you should direct the customer's attention to the sexy features (sizzle) rather than product itself (steak). In fact, though, customers want neither sizzle nor steak; they want the benefits (taste and nourishment) of eating the steak.

Myth 6. The customer is always right

Though some customers may enjoy being patronized, most want you to help them make the best decision, not tell them that they're "right." Sellers who always agree with customers are seen by customers as "yes men" and therefore a bit creepy.

Preorder my new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, before May 12 and get an exclusive bonus chapter and an author-signed bookplate.

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Last updated: Feb 12, 2014

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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