Sometimes the oldest myths in the sales industry are the hardest to bury. How many times have you heard the following so-called “truisms”?
- A good salesperson must have an aggressive selling approach.
This is not necessarily true. While sales reps should, ideally, have an innately competitive nature, the stereotype of the pushy, aggressive salesman is a relic of the past. The truth is, today’s clients have a pretty good sense of when they’re being pitched a script and do not have the time for salespeople who are incapable of reacting to their needs. Today’s best salespeople, therefore, must be even better at listening than they are at talking, they must also be curious and know how to ask the right questions. In addition to this, they must also have a dynamic personality and be able to build a rapport with clients and teammates. However, none of this has anything to do with the stereotypical huckster from a bygone sales era.
- Education and experience are the best predictors of job performance.
If hiring managers are looking primarily at a candidate’s education and experience, they’re bound to miss the mark. Numerous studies have shown that soft skills are a far better predictor of a candidate’s success in a sales role than education or experience. These qualities are often difficult to assess during an interview, but Industrial Psychology research has yielded a reliable testing method for evaluating a candidate’s key personality traits and work tendencies. Contact a leading sales test provider if you’d like to learn more about the benefits of sales personality tests and find out how your company can incorporate them into its hiring process
- Good salespeople must be extroverts.
Not so. Outbound cold-calling is no longer the lead-generating mechanism it once was, and inbound marketing has grown in popularity. As a result, a sales company needs patient, intuitive and responsive introverts (often referred to as “farmers”) as much as they need extroverted business development reps (“hunters”).
- A salesperson is either a “hunter” or a “farmer.”
Not necessarily true. While you will still find enough examples of salespeople who are predominantly one or the other, many salespeople are a mix of both. They may be talented prospectors or closers, but they may also have an aptitude for the detail-oriented and the systematic work of sales support. Finding the role that suits a candidate best often involves assessing their unique set of soft skills and personality type (see #2).
- Good salespeople can sell anything to anyone.
This one, of course, is related to myths #1 and #3. One of the critical qualities of a good salesman is empathy — it allows them to put themselves in their client’s position and respond well to feedback. Good salespeople believe in their organization’s impact. They believe that they are providing a valuable service and are helping their clients.
Though the points made here are still bound to fall on some deaf ears, most successful hiring managers have likely learned from experience not to give much credence to the kind of old sales myths mentioned here.