6 Common Sales Myths

Think you're a terrible salesperson? Get over these classic misconceptions, and you'll be on the road to being a sales superstar.

By Tony Parinello

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: Iknow it's important to sell, but I'm no good at it, and Ican't afford to hire a salesperson right now. How can I developthe "tough skin" that I need to be a successfulsalesperson for my own company?

A:Welcome to the wonderful world of running your own business!You're in the same situation most small-business owners findthemselves in. The great news is that you don't need armor forskin to make your business a tremendous success--all you need is tobreak a few stereotypes that have been established over the pastseveral hundred years or so!

There are a number of potentially dangerous misconceptions thatsurround the sales profession. There are always people who are"down in the mouth," complaining that business is down,constantly making excuses as to why. If you believe these cynics,you can sabotage your own business. An attitude of self-pity can becontagious, so get things straight in your own mind first.Let's address the most damaging myths associated with sales andhow you can overcome them. Before long, you'll actually havefun whenever you engage in selling activities.

Myth #1: Only Someone WhoTalks a Good Game Can Sell
In reality, fast talkers don't really do very well in the worldof sales. They have a bad reputation because their prospects cansense the pressure, the insincerity and the lack of concern andcompassion. A good listener will outsell a fast talker any day ofthe week. When you don't listen, you don't learn about theindividuals, the companies and their priorities. You won't beable to address their needs, hence your chances of making the saleare greatly diminished.

Myth #2: Sales Is a NumbersGame
Actually, sales is a numbers game--the harder you work, themore money you make! Lots of sales managers are obsessed withnumbers: how many cold calls on the phone, how many in person, howmany appointments, how many sales. I've even seen tons of formsthat salespeople have to fill out and hand in at the end of theday. That's how the sales manager monitors the salespeople.Does this sound like elementary school homework or what? Sales workis about people, not numbers. It's a lot more like brainsurgery than bingo. It's about research, information andrelationships. No, sales is not a numbers game.

Myth #3: To Succeed in Sales,You Must Have Thick Skin
Yes, we all have to (graciously) call on internal reservoirs ofstrength to deal with inevitable setbacks. But that's not thesame thing as developing an outer persona that is offensivelyaggressive.

In the name of thick skin, a lot of salespeople have adopted apersona that is, in a word, insufferable. Their attitude seems tobe, "I succeed, you fail, see you around!" Professionalsales result in win-win situations.

Myth #4: Sales Has ItsUnavoidable Ups and Downs
Sales only becomes a roller coaster ride if you let theprocess drive you instead of the other way around. Itonly has ups and downs if you don't have goals. Almost everyindustry is vulnerable to seasonal shifts. Like most otherinconveniences, these shifts can be avoided with properplanning.

No matter what you hear anyone else say, there really is no"bad" season. There is always opportunity for salespeoplewho are committed enough to find it. Picture this scenario: Whileyour competitors moan about everyone being on vacation in July, youtarget people who are less likely to be away on holiday--and youget through to them more easily, because there are fewergatekeepers to contend with!

Myth #5: You Have to Be Goodat Handling Rejection to Be in Sales
Out of the millions of sales professionals in the United States,I'll warrant that every one of them has heard "nothanks" much more often than the average individual. If theytook it to mean that they themselves were somehow inferior,we'd probably need special psychiatric hospitals just forsalespeople with bruised egos.

Rejection is a bad thing only if you make a conscious choice notto learn anything from the situation. Otherwise, rejection is anopportunity for growth!

Myth #6: Sales Is a Dead-EndCareer With Little Promotional Opportunity
Did you know that 85 percent of the company leaders andentrepreneurs in America today were once salespeople? They carriedsample cases, made cold calls, dialed for dollars, did productdemonstrations and handled objections. Today, they're themajority of corporate presidents, CEOs and the like. Sales is adead-end job, all right--especially when you consider that the endmay be at the very top of an organization.

Tony Parinello is the author of the bestselling book Selling to VITO, the Very Important TopOfficer. For additional information on his speeches and hisnewest book, Secrets of VITO, call (800) 777-VITO orvisit www.sellingtovito.com.


The opinions expressed in this column are thoseof the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended tobe general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areasor circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consultingan appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.

Tony Parinello

Tony Parinello has become the nation's foremost expert on executive-level selling. He's also the author of the bestselling book bearing the name of his sales training program,Getting to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer, 10 Steps to VITO's Office,as well as the host of Club VITO, a weekly live internet broadcast.

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