“Thou Shalt Not . . !” Are Sales Commandments Dumbing Us Down?


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Crystal-clear sales advice is as close as your fingertips. Just enter “salespeople should never” into a search window. Then stand back, or you’ll get bowled over with commandments.

Questions salespeople should never ask.
Things salespeople should never say.
Things salespeople should never do.
Activities salespeople should never have to do.
Salespeople should never perform telephone follow-up.
Salespeople should never prospect.
Salespeople should stop cold calling.
Salespeople should stop giving buyers so many choices.
Salespeople should stop selling.

I’ll save space by stopping here. To follow biblical convention, couldn’t we just confine results to a Top Ten list? Maddeningly, creating commandments has never been easier, especially when we don’t have to chisel Roman numerals into stone. Just follow these steps:

1) Identify a commonly-mishandled sales tactic (very easy to do).
2) Brainstorm for a few highly-negative outcomes (also very easy to do).
3) Create a blog title by putting the words Salespeople Should Never in front of the tactic.
4) Write the blog.

People click on Thou Shalt Not-style titles because they’re memorable and easy to grasp. I can skim Questions Salespeople Should Never Ask on my iPhone, while stopped at a red light. The Harvard Business Review article on sales strategy? I’ll read it later. Besides, who even likes mealy, academic-sounding content, oozing with probabilistic disclaimers? Seems, might, could, on the other hand . . . People who think that way wear cardigan sweaters and Hush Puppy shoes. The stuff I want to read looks me straight in the eye, doesn’t waste my time, and makes no apology for taking a firm stand. Necktie, not optional.

Unfortunately, our appetite for certitude and quick-fix advice has a price. It requires sacrificing diversity of understanding, stripping away subtle nuance, and omitting important context, caveats, and exceptions. What remains is the less-nutritious husk—advice, dumbed down to be Tweeted, read or heard in a conveniently-short time snippet, and optimized to fit on a mobile device. A management-by-magazine sugar high. If only the sugar didn’t metabolize so quickly.

Do salespeople throw too many buying choices in front of prospects, thereby hurting their chances of closing the deal? Absolutely! I can give you more than a half-dozen reasons to support why that’s bang-on accurate. But I can also provide several situations where proposing more than one option provides powerful competitive advantages. So, Salespeople Should Stop Pitching Single-Solution Proposals, right? No! Figure out which tactic works when—and why.

“That didn’t work. Stop doing it!” I’ve said it, too, copping an aura of inerrancy. But we have to continually ask ourselves, is the tactic itself flawed or obsolete, or did the poor result come from the way the tactic was used? Sales commandments dumb us down, because they don’t allow space for answering that question, let alone even inviting people to ask it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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