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The Single Sales Principle and The 8 Myths of Selling
The Unique Selling Principle states that:
“People buy when a compelling need is met by a credible solution that offers perceived value.”
Simple. Too simple? Well, as Jim Collins states in his book Good to Great, “Freud, Darwin and Einstein all had one thing in common. They took a complex and simplified world.” And single principle sellers do just that. They understand that selling doesn’t have to be complicated. They simply make it easy for a customer to buy.
That’s one of the two things they have in common. They are customer-centric, not sales-centric.
The other thing that Single Principle Salespeople have in common is that they never follow the 8 myths of sales. Simply never.
The 8 myths of sales were taught by well-intentioned salespeople, eager to pass on the wisdom and knowledge their sales managers had passed on to them. As a cult, however, no one had questioned whether they were real. The 8 myths may have worked in their day, but they simply do not work today.
Do you remember how you felt when you found out that it wasn’t really Santa Claus? I remember well. It was December 12, 1971 and my (so called) best friend Johnny Harrison gave me the fatal news for a Curly Wurly. I felt like I had been had. You didn’t question what you were told as a child; I just believe it’s true.
Well, this was also the way I felt the day I discovered that everything I had been taught up to that point in sales was a complete lie; all myths. They were theories that had no substance in the modern world.
Walk onto most sales floors and you’ll see the 8 myths of sales proudly displayed on the wall (probably next to Target and the “Inspiration” poster):
“Attitude sets the height”
“People buy people”
“Always be closed”
“Customers like to talk about themselves”
“It’s a numbers game”
“Sell the Sizzle Not the Sausage”
“talk about money”
“Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail”
Be honest, you believe in at least half of the 8 myths yourself, right? You are not alone.
Most salespeople will refer to them as “the gospel of sales.” Suggest that they are mild and think you are crazy.
On the surface, the 8 myths seem perfectly reasonable. In fact, placed in a picture frame, each looks positively motivating. And I’m sure they made a lot of sense, at the time. But things change. And so is the sale.
Myth 1: Always closed
If you need to use closing techniques to get a sale, you haven’t clearly demonstrated that your product meets their needs. Rather than forcing the customer into a decision they will regret, simply go back to where you lost them in the buying process, and start over from there. If you apply the Single Sales® Principle you don’t need to close…the customer needs to be asked to buy.
Myth 2: Attitude determines height
Abraham Lincoln asked the question: “How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg.” No amount of looking in the mirror and telling yourself “you’re a tiger” will work if you don’t believe in your product.
The better the value proposition, the better the attitude of a seller. Unique principles marketers ensure that they have a deep and genuine belief in their value proposition.
Myth 3: People Buy People
People buy when the product/service meets the customer’s needs in a cost-effective manner. No amount of schmoozing with a customer will make up for a poor product match.
Being personable is, of course, important in sales. But isn’t it important in all vocations? Friendly fountains are more pleasant to deal with than friendly thieves. Friendly bus drivers are more pleasant to deal with than friendly bus drivers. Friendly lawyers are more pleasant to deal with than unfriendly lawyers (unless they are on your team of course!) Ken Hubbard, the American writer said: “Beauty is only skin deep, but it is a valuable asset whether you are poor or a paradise. no common sense!”
In the good old days / bad old days, sellers used their charm (‘beauty’) to cover this lack of a credible solution (‘common sense’). Today’s professional buyer can see why. It’s what’s underneath that counts most.
Myth 4: Customers love to talk about themselves
We have sat through thousands of sales calls. Some were good. Some were bad. And some were just plain ugly. The bad ones were the ones where the seller doesn’t ask any questions. They throw in their features and benefits without any consideration for what the buyer might actually need.
And then there were the bad calls. The seller knew that they had to do some research and gain as much information as possible about the customer. Then they launched into a ‘Spanish inquisition’, asking a list of meaningless questions that did nothing but remove the client.
Yes, there is a certain amount of information that must be identified in a sales intervention, as without it it is difficult to make a recommendation and know if it is worth fighting for the opportunity. But this is all for your benefit, not theirs. You need to make sales, not customer profiles.
Myth 5: It’s a numbers game
Average salespeople go a long way by putting in long hours and running around contacting lots of people. They then submit “phantom forecasts”; Overly optimistic sales projections based on a pipeline of proposals that never convert into actual business. This is because the needs identified in the sales call were not committed needs.
Just having a need doesn’t mean the customer will act on it. Many of the deals in a seller’s pipeline remain closed because the customer keeps procrastinating on the decision. Playing the numbers game does not help them deliver more sales. It just creates more work for them and everyone around them.
The Single Principle Seller ensures that the requirements are compelling before presenting the solution. Why? Because only then are they assured that the client will be motivated into action.
Myth 6: Sell the Sizzle, not the Sausage
We love the concept of making presentations sizzle. Our problem with the myth of “selling the sizzle” is how salespeople think they can fool a customer with fancy presentations that are high on show but low on substance.
At first glance, “sell the sizzle” seems to make perfect sense. The sausage sizzling away on a plate is much more likely to sell than a raw sausage sitting in the cold. But this is because the sizzling has fired your senses that brings attention to the fact that you are hungry. The sizzle has met your compelling need.
Have you ever smelled a sizzling sausage when you got food poisoning? It will probably make you feel even worse. This is because this time your need is not hunger. In fact, food is the last thing you need.
Myth 7: It’s about money
Listen to the buyers and you will think that they really believe that money talks. Buyers are a brutal species, who take great pleasure in making a seller sweat on the price. They trick them into thinking that everything is about cost, and if the seller does not lower their price, they will find a supplier who will. In truth, some buyers actually believe this hype.
But customers really want value, not the cheapest price. If people wanted goodies, we’d all be driving 10-year-old cars and shopping at charity shops. Products are only perceived as expensive if the value is not appreciated by the customer. You will never lose a deal on price, only on value.
Myth 8: Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
Salespeople tend to fall into two camps: those who project too much and those who project too little.
Those who think too much tend to be ‘busy fools’, meaning they run around doing very little. When we go out with these salespeople on calls, they show us all the planning they’ve done: a tour of the client’s website; previous history; a list of questions to ask; competitor information etc. The problem is that they don’t even refer to it.
The second type are those sellers who do very little planning. Indeed, most sellers fall into this category. You may be surprised to learn that so are the Single Principle Sellers.
“Hooray!” I hear the outcry from the retail community at large. “What? No need to plan?” Not good!
Peter Drucker, the management guru, defined the difference between “effectiveness” and “efficiency” as:
“Efficiency is doing things right; Effectiveness is doing things right.”
Single-principle salespeople are effective because they identify the right things to do. This is why they often work fewer hours than the average artist.
The cartoonist, Doug Larson, said about time management: “For acts that disappear, it’s hard to beat what happens in the eight hours that are supposed to be missing after eight hours of sleep and eight hours of work.” I think we can all empathize with this sentiment. Life is too short to plan for that.
The 8 Myths of Sales Summary
Winston Churchill said “Out of intense complexity emerges simplicity.” Selling has become a complicated business. But it shouldn’t be. Simple is good.
And that’s why great salespeople follow the Single Sales Principle®. By focusing on matching compelling needs with credible solutions that offer perceived value, you will succeed in selling. We guarantee it. Follow these 8 myths and you will become frustrated and disillusioned with our wonderful profession.
Original article written by Mark Blackmore (MD of Lammore)
For more information on the “Unique Selling Principle” sales training program please contact:
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