I have been doing sales for most part of my life. I started “selling” when I was a kid, exchanging football cards with friends and trying winning the best deals for myself. I wasn’t getting money, of course, but I was training myself in understanding what a good deal was. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost. Most importantly, I learnt.
I lived big part of my life next to best salesman I have ever met. My mom!
Yes, I know, you might be thinking I am biased, but I am serious, she was good. Damn if she was good (and still is by the way)! Obviously we are talking about simple sales situations, but she always managed to get the best deal out of any circumstances she was faced with. She taught me negotiation without actually telling me anything about it and also a basic fact in life:
Everything is negotiable. If you don’t try to negotiate, you lose.
As easy as that!
Sales is part of everyone’s life and yet most of the people who aren’t directly involved with sales at work, fail at understanding this.
You sell all the time.
You sell when you try convincing your partner that you are very tired tonight and it would be awesome if she/he cooks.
You sell when you try convincing your boss appointing you to that particular project.
You sell when you try convincing your employees doing redundant and boring tasks, that you don’t want do.
You also sell when you interview for a job.
So, please, stop saying you don’t know how to sell or that you would never sell. You do it, live with it and live with the fact that there are other (bright) people doing that for a profession.
Even though you sell every single day without noticing, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Sales is damn hard and it requires a particular set of skills that not everyone has (yet learnt) and that’s the reason why you think you can’t sell. Here’s a list of the most common misconceptions about sales and salespeople I came across during these years.
Salespeople are born with it.
You can learn anything in life and also about sales. The only thing you need is willingness to get out of your comfort zone. Sales pushes you out of that quite zone every moment of the day and you might not be comfortable with that. That’s why you think you are not born with it. If you learn the product and understand few basic rules of sales, you can get your hands dirty from the day after. There is no limit to what you can learn in life and sales is part of it.
Sales is about lying
You don’t lie in sales, despite what everybody thinks. The moment you make a sales and you have lied to your prospect, you are doomed to fail. You will often hear salespeople overselling or over-promising, but that’s not lying. Lying is saying something that you or your company, for sure, cannot deliver. Selling is convincing that you or your company can do something better than anyone else out there. There will always be a grey area, there will always be “white-lies”, but you are not fooling your prospect, you are just packaging the information in a better and more attractive way.
Sales is a shark tank
I had the same exact feeling before starting a career in sales. After living in Japan for a while, I came back to Europe, and more precisely to UK and was looking for job. I told myself, never a career in sales. I had this impression forged by movies of crazy sales reps trying in all ways to get on top of each others without any interest for their clients.
How would I want to have anything to do with that??
I would lie to you if I would tell you that sales is not competitive. It is and if you don’t like competition, perhaps a career in sales is not for you. However, competition is synonym of ambition and passion, not ruthless world domination. In most of sales departments you would step in, you will find salespeople understanding each others, because they know how complicated it is this job (needless to say that managers have a big role in creating the right environment).
In Sales You Make Big Bucks
Now this is a lie. In sales you can have a big bonus only when you perform, if you don’t, your bonus contribution will be quite low.
When I first started looking for jobs in sales, it was in the real-estate market (I was still unsure of what to do with my life). I remember that for an entry level job, they would pay somewhere around 800$ base with uncapped bonus. As I was new to this world, I thought that they were completely crazy. How would I have ever survived with 800$ per month? However, I was looking at the sales world with the eye of a non-salesperson.
Bonus is a big part of every sales job and can be huge as well as zero (depending on the type of sales you do).
Don’t think that salespeople are always enjoying life making big money. They are the one that suffer the most seasonality and laziness, while other people can just “relax” for a week or two in their role and still get the same pay-check.
Sales is about travelling and partying
Yes and no.
First of all, not all sales jobs have these two components. You can have an inbound sales job, which basically gets you on the phone all day and that’s it. On the other hands, some other sales jobs do allow you to travel and going to events. However, travelling and partying for work, is not the same as doing it for pleasure.
Travelling, after a while you do it, can get tiring, especially if you are on the way 2 weeks out 4 in a month and you have someone waiting for you at home.
Partying (or going to events) is definitely more difficult to make it sound harder than what it is, I have to admit, so I know I won’t get your compassion for this one. However, a salesperson will always be selling also when chilling on a couch with a random person met at an event.
Sales is about technique and experience
In another post, I have highlighted how important it is to have a technique, a process to be successful. However, something that people often misunderstood is that technique or experience without product knowledge is nothing. You can have years of experiences selling shoes in a store face to face with a client; you might be great at establishing first contact with clients and be likeable; you could also be very friendly after all these years on the front line; however, if you start selling in a b2b environment, all this experience will be nothing without product knowledge.
Everyone can learn techniques and gain experience, so there is no real advantage if you have worked as a sales rep in a supermarket or at Walmart and are selling airplane engines. This is a common mistake also some salespeople do.
It’s important to take the time to talk about common misconceptions about sales and salespeople. Your life is made of sales situations and you better start recognizing them and mastering those skills and knowledge needed to be successful. Remember, everything can be learnt, it just needs the right attitude.
Have you encountered any other misconception about sales? Leave a comment and let us know.