May 04, 2012

Are Your Misconceptions Costing You Sales?

Examining assumptions to realize more sales

Most of us feel we are pretty tolerant. However, many in our industry have misconceptions that are costing them a fortune. Here are some assumptions that you should examine honestly to see if you are losing money because of your beliefs.

Do You Like Salespeople?

Many dealers I work with do not like salespeople and that is a problem. Of my 4,000 customers, I can say that the ones who do not like salespeople are in the lowest group in terms of sales. Every customer of mine that sells more than 100 systems per month likes and respects salespeople.  

Misconceptions About Yourself

Some dealers believe they can only hire low-earning salespeople. They hire 1,099 contractors on straight commission who earned very little at their previous jobs. Many dealers believe that no one who earns $60,000 or more in sales would work for them. This misconception about your own company is a self-fulfilling prophesy that leads to a weak sales force. Weak salespeople are more tempted to be unethical in order to survive.

Salesman Are Unethical

Some dealers feel salespeople are unethical. This is a generalization that is just as offensive as any judgment based on race or age. The truth is that some salespeople are unethical. But there are unethical people in every profession. There are probably about the same number of unethical salesman as there are unethical doctors or unethical teachers. Ethics comes from the top in any business. If you are ethical and you have a good system of supervision and inspection, your sales force will be ethical.

Salesmen Are Pushy

It is a shock to me that many in our profession who rely on selling to make a living are worried about pushy salespeople and “high-pressure sales.” Most dealers are suffering from “low-pressure sales”—that is, salespeople who cannot get into homes to do the demonstration or cannot close enough when they do get in. You can stop high pressure by inspecting your staff’s demonstrations and by watching the numbers. High pressure leads to high cancellation rates. Low-pressure sales leads to low cancellation rates, because low-pressure salespeople only sell people who jump up and yell, “Where do I sign?” Check your rate of sales that cancel after they are closed. If it is low (20% or lower) you may be suffering from low-pressure sales.

People Don’t Like to Be Sold

If you ever hear yourself saying this, you need a “checkup from the neck up.” It is true that people do not like to be sold things they do not need or want, but they cannot wait to get things they see as a solution. We are helping our customers by showing them how to save money and have a better life. With this approach, you will offend almost no one. Train your staff to interest their prospects and to show them that your systems are a solution to their challenges.

What is it Costing You?

Take an honest look at your misconceptions, and you may find that you are costing your company a lot of money. Here are two real-life examples to amplify this point.

I coach a salesperson who will not call people between 4 and 6 p.m. because he might interrupt their dinner. If you ask 100 people when they eat dinner, you will get answers from 4 to 10 p.m, so the fact is that we will only interrupt a small portion of these people. Also, some people do not mind being interrupted if the call is interesting. Some were eating alone. Others were eating and watching the news. A good salesperson calls, apologizes if the prospect is upset but gets through to a large portion of prospects the timid salesperson never reaches.

Another real-life example shows the cost of our misconceptions about selling. One dealer I work with has been in a service business for more than 30 years and has just added water equipment to his company. He has more than 10,000 customers who have used his company for past services. His salespeople are desperate for leads, but he has decided it might “bother” his other customers if they were called and asked about water. Those 10,000 customers could keep a small group of salespeople busy for more than a year and could generate millions in sales, but the belief that it would bother those customers is preventing that from happening.

Whether you sell, manage or own, are your misconceptions and assumptions costing you sales? Take an honest look and see if you can try selling to everyone to whom you have the opportunity. You will be helping them and making more money, too.

About the author

Carl Davidson is president of Sales And Management Solutions Inc., a New York-based company that specializes in live and video training, coaching, recruiting and lead generation for the water equipment industry. To see a list of products and free sales training videos, visit or call 716.580.3384.