Everything you think you know about great salespeople is probably wrong.
Many businessfolk have odd ideas about salespeople, especially those who are the best at what they do. The antidote to these misconceptions is scientific research, according Chally Chairman Howard Stevens (he and I are writing a book together):
Myth 1. Great salespeople are fast-talking extroverts.
Fact: Most top performers in sales today are better at listening than talking and are careful never to appear pushy or "hard-sell."
Myth 2. Great salespeople are strong academic performers.
Fact: Sales talent is inversely related to school grades. It is easier to teach any subject matter to a great salesperson than to teach an "academic genius" to sell.
Myth 3. Great salespeople make great sales managers.
Fact: When you convert a sales superstar into a manager, you lose a great salesperson and you gain (at best) a mediocre sales manager. The real victim: the customer.
Myth 4. You can turn a good salesperson into a great one.
Fact: Success in sales is mostly based on innate talent. All the training in the world can't make a great salesperson from someone who doesn't have the aptitude.
Myth 5. Great salespeople want to be promoted.
Fact: Great salespeople seek independence and financial reward. They prefer to avoid the politics and bureaucratic inter-dependence inherent in a management position.
Myth 6. Great salespeople can sell anything to anyone.
Fact: Even the most successful salespeople usually fail when they attempt to sell in a different way (like moving from outside sales to telesales).
Myth 7. The Internet eliminates the need for great salespeople.
Fact: E-Commerce companies that don't offer "real people" to relate to and consult with customers are over seven times more likely to fail.
Myth 8. Great engineering makes great salespeople unnecessary.
Fact: Contrary to the "build a better mousetrap" theory, nearly 85 percent of all new products patented never succeed in the real world.
GEOFFREY JAMES writes "Sales Source on Inc.com," the world's most-read sales-oriented blog. His new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, will be published in early 2014. To get weekly blog updates, sign up for his free "Insider" newsletter. @Sales_Source