The entrepreneurial journey is an exciting roller-coaster of a ride. One moment you're on top of the world - feeling as if there is nothing that can stop your inevitable success. The next moment, you're lying on the ground - feeling as if there's no way you'll ever succeed. Every once and awhile, those two moments are in the same day.
For me, some of the best moments came when sales were good, or when we closed a big customer. Either as a chief revenue officer, entrepreneur or advisor, I've helped close tens of millions in revenue. Connecting with consumers, or B2B (business-to-business) customers, is one of my favorite parts about the journey.
One way to increase the good moments, and decrease the bad moments, is to avoid the landmines that trip up most leaders. When it comes to sales, there are a number of assumptions that founders, CEOs and leaders make that simply aren't true.
Successful entrepreneurs know the difference between myth and truth, and they navigate appropriately. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs accept myth as truth, and make poor decisions.
Here's a look at five sales myths, and the truths you should see behind them.
1. Myth: The best product always wins
Unsuccessful CEOs and poor leaders make the mistake of believing that the best product, or the product with the most features, will win. They put most of their focus into engineering and product teams, investing deeply into the product development at the cost of other departments or needs.
The reality is that having the best product, or the best features, isn't enough if no one knows about it or understands why it's better. In many cases, consumers don't care about something as much as an engineering team does. In other cases, consumers will buy the brand their friend uses or the one that pops up first in a Google search. There's plenty of anecdotes that suggest that becoming "first to mind" with consumers is better than having a list of superior features.
Truth: The first market viable product to become "first to mind" wins.
*Caveat: In many industries, there is enough room for multiple entities to succeed. In this case, understand your value proposition and stay focused on your part of the pie. Don't try to be all things to all people.
2. Myth: A fancy CRM and new sales tactics will lead to success
The amateur salesperson believes that their success relies on using the latest CRM or learning the greatest sales tricks to persuasively guide their prospects through the funnel. They treat their customers like objects and try to manipulate and persuade their customers into buying their product or service.
In my experience, sales success came from my ability to build connection and trust with the other party. A great salesperson will spend more time building their skills in listening, empathy and human connection. Customers are people, and people want to feel heard and respected.
Truth: Leading with listening, empathy and a focus on the other person will yield greater results.
3. Myth: Success comes from selling a product's attributes
There is a belief that selling is best done by focusing on the features or attributes of one's product or service. One of the most common mistakes I see salespeople and marketers make is over-emphasizing their solution without truly understanding the prospect's problem.
If you want to create more revenue, you must put yourself in your customers' shoes. You should ask them questions about their problem or pain points. Your focus should be on them, not on you and your product.
When you determine someone's pain point, then you can propose a solution. And if the solution fits, the customer will move mountains to get it. Great sales is about listening and helping, not about "doing" and promoting.
Truth: Sales is a process of listening and helping the other person solve their problem.
4. Myth: Say "yes" to everything
Today's hustle-at-all-costs mindset leads to more than just burnout - it also leads to bad decisions. The trap is to market your product or services to everyone, and at all times. In these cases, a bad CEO will be distracted by all the opportunities that exist in front of them and try to chase them all.
A disciplined and experienced leader takes the time to understand their core competencies, value proposition and customer - and they align each of those into a marketing and sales strategy. They do not deviate when the next shiny thing comes in their purview. They stick to their go-to-market strategy and move on when each stage is completed.
Truth: A disciplined go-to-market strategy will build sustainable growth.
5. Myth: Always be closing
The idea that you are a talented salesperson who persuades and convinces your prospects to sign on the dotted line is an alluring myth that limits salespeople or sales teams. When it comes to B2B, the "always be closing" mindset doesn't actually help you close deals.
In reality, the B2B enterprise sales process takes time. If you try to close your prospect at each stage of this process, they will stop talking to you. It's more important to use that time to connect and learn more about them.
Truth: B2B sales funnels require a great deal of listening, patience and time.
We all want more sales - it's the nature of business. As you can see, there are five big myths that trap and limit most salespeople, leaders and CEOs. You can see that these myths trap you into focusing on you and your product, while the truths show that focusing on the other person is what leads to success.