If there is one thing successful people have in common, it's that they break the rules. Consider individuals like Marc Benioff, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs. They did not achieve their success by following rules. They challenged the status quo at every turn, pushed boundaries, and proved that what seemed impossible was possible.

So if you're tired of mediocre sales results, consider breaking these common sales rules:

1. Do whatever you need to close the deal.

Sly sales tactics that bring a customer in the door but don't ultimately make for happy customers are not good for business or a sales professional's reputation. When customers have choices, it's important to take an honest approach. Dig deeper to evaluate the customer's problem and present your product in a different light - as a solution. Resist the urge to offer special deals or say yes to everything the customer wants.

Market research firm Altimeter says, "Your sales team must be in a relationship-building mindset. It's no longer just selling. ... The end goal with a relationship-building mindset is to do the right thing for the customer, not simply make the sale if it's not a good fit."

2. Set in-person meetings to win customer loyalty.

Instead, conserve resources and use an inside sales approach. Inside sales teams are cheaper to hire and operate, faster to ramp up, and many business buyers and consumers alike no longer want a salesperson to be present when they are making their buying decision. A remote relationship is often preferred.

This idea reminds me of a conversation with Anneke Seley, the author of Sales 2.0 and founder of Oracle Direct. Anneke tells the story of her experience "managing" Marc Benioff early in his career. "Marc was as you would expect him to be. He was questioning everything and was totally creative and entrepreneurial. Imagine, we were just introducing inside sales into Oracle, and field sales wanted to own every account. Not surprisingly, Marc said, 'I could sell a million dollar deal without traveling,' and he was absolutely right. But we, of course, had to move more slowly. I'd rather have a team of Marc Benioff's that challenges me and every rule, than a team of people that isn't engaged and doesn't care."

3. Never admit a weakness in your solution.

The key to being viewed by your buyer as a "credible" authority is to prove your trustworthiness early in the process and demonstrate that you have the customer's best interest in mind.

Be prepared to admit some disadvantages to win the buyer's trust. This could mean acknowledging some shortcoming in the product or pointing out a benefit in a competitive solution. It shouldn't be overly damaging but should be significant enough to demonstrate the salesperson's honesty.

4. The phone is dead. Email, SMS, and social media rule.

Too many sellers today are reluctant to pick up the phone and are more comfortable leveraging email, chat, and text messaging.

In reality, the number one way to convert leads into sales is to pick up the phone. While communicating with qualified leads through email serves a basic function, a lot can be lost using email by itself, as it fails to capture tone and emotion. Picking up the phone and learning the pain points prospects are facing helps the seller establish a personal connection, earning the prospect's trust and eventually their business.

5. If you call 100 people you'll connect with many.

While the phone is an important channel, a mix of different communication channels is best. The rationale that your sales staff needs to make 200 calls in a day to get in contact with 10 people, and convert five into sales opportunities is very strong within today's inside sales environments.

To set yourself apart, consider using a sequence of phone calls, short voicemails, SMS messages, emails, and social touches. After all, some buyers may prefer SMS to communication via phone.

6. Just get referrals.

Yes, a referral - aka warm introduction - has the highest probability to drive revenue. However, as the world we live in becomes more and more digital, an online strategy becomes more critical. Relying on referrals alone might not be wise, even in the most traditional industries like mortgage.

7. Texting turns sellers into social outcasts.

This is simply not true. You should be using SMS to your advantage, once you have a prospect's permission of course. Many of our Velocify clients are having great success with SMS. The key is to consider the scenario and what channel of communication makes the most sense.

If you are thinking about incorporating text messaging into your sales process, consider these SMS tips.

8. Multi-tasking makes you more efficient.

Only two percent of the population can multi-task effectively. If you think you are in the minority, you're likely overrating your abilities. A recent study found that the better someone thought they were at multi-tasking, the more likely it was that their performance was well below par.

So stop trying to multi-task and start prioritizing your time, working in blocks. Knock out 30 calls, then tackle your LinkedIn, etc.

9. The prospect should tell you what they need.

WRONG. It's your job to find out by truly understanding the challenges and problems your customer or prospect are trying to solve. By doing this, you can tell them exactly what they want without them ever having to ask.

It is often what your customer isn't saying that is most important.

10. Time of day is everything.

I've run into more sales leaders recently that obsess about the time of day their reps call prospects and often hear, "We've found that before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m. is the best time to call because that's when decision makers are at their desks." My response to them is usually something like, "That's great, but what are your sellers doing during the other six hours of the day?"

The reality is, for most considered purchases, deals rarely close at the first point of contact. Sales is all about relationship building, which means a series of interactions is usually required. So instead of obsessing about the time of day you call a prospect, consider your communication sequence.

Published on: Oct 11, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.