5 Myths about the Best Salespeople

Here at InsightSquared, we have a penchant for busting myths and shaking up conventional thinking. We’ve taken shots at subjects such as the ideal sales pipeline-to-quota ratio and the role that luck plays in sales success. Now, we’re turning our spotlight onto another subject near and dear to our hearts:

What the best salespeople are really like.

More specifically, we’re taking aim at some of the popular myths and misconceptions floating around the industry. In our experience, many of these myths are improperly setting a false standard in the minds of Sales VPs on the types of reps they should be looking for and how they can manage them.

Let’s start breaking these myths down and stop perpetuating dangerous misconceptions!

Myth #1: The best salespeople are born, not made (Click to Tweet!)

Top-performing sales reps like to tell you that they’ve always been this way – charismatic, persuasive, natural salespeople from the start. They would have you believe that they came out of the womb looking like this:

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There is nothing “natural” about becoming a world-class sales rep. The best became the best by listening to their coaches and mentors, opening up their minds to new schools of thought, and working damn hard at their jobs. According to research from Miller Heiman, the best sales reps:

  • are 30% more likely to prepare for their sales calls

  • are 30% more likely to have a well-defined approach for targeting clients on calls

  • are 24% more likely to have a standard process in place for reviewing opportunities

None of these are natural-born behaviors. They are all either taught to these reps or learned through trial-and-error.

Myth #2: The best salespeople are also the pushiest and most aggressive (Click to Tweet!)

What’s the typical image of a salesperson? Someone who is aggressive at your door and on the phone and doesn’t take no for an answer, right? Does this sound like someone you’d want to buy anything from?

We didn’t think so.

Yes, persistence is definitely a key trait for a sales rep. There is, however, a fine line between over-aggressive pushiness and a determination to solve your – the customer’s – pain point. The best salespeople should be curious and ask probing questions in a way that is designed to draw out these pains, so that subsequently, that salesperson can figure out how they can solve your pain. This doesn’t mean badgering customers or hammering them over the head with what you think your value proposition is – your value prop should be readily apparent without incessant badgering.

Myth #3: The best salespeople need constant adulation and pats on the back (Click to Tweet!)

Of course everyone wants affirmation that they’re doing a good job. This is human nature – compliments make us feel good! There is a difference, though, between enjoying the endorphin rush that comes with a deserved compliment, and needing these compliments to drive yourself.

Instead of growing fat and complacent on compliments, the best sales reps use whatever recognition they do get to set their next goal. They are always looking for the next set of challenges. Did one of your sales reps hit a new personal record in bookings this month? Challenge them by introducing them to a new market or only focusing on opportunities with an average sale price more than 2x your typical average.

Myth #4: The best salespeople are so good that they don’t need sales coaching (Click to Tweet!)

To debunk this myth, we turn to baseball for a helpful analogy. Even the best players in history – from Babe Ruth to Derek Jeter – need help from one very specific coach; the third-base coach. When the player is rounding third and heading for home base, he might have missed the fact that the ball took a fielder’s bounce off the wall, and is about to be gunned out at home. That’s why you need the third-base coach to hold his hands up and tell the runner to stop safely at third.

Players are so caught up in the moment that oftentimes, they miss things that an outside set of eyes can catch. Just as the third-base coach knows that the ball took an unfavorable bounce off the wall, so too does the sales coach notice that the star rep rushed to qualify an opportunity and send them through the sales funnel, when a more discerning take might have unveiled that the opportunity is actually not a good fit. The best sales reps are humble enough to realize that they can always improve with sales coaching, and welcome it.

Myth #5: The best salespeople are cutthroat competitors who would step over their own mother to get to the top (Click to Tweet!)

It’s true: sales reps should be a naturally competitive species, with a desire to win – and a hatred of losing – that drives their top performances. However, the best sales reps know that this cutthroat competition shouldn’t extend to their own teammates.

In fact, the best sales reps recognize the importance of team – when every player on the team is performing well and hitting their goals, the whole looks much better than the sum of its parts. In this regard, top sales reps won’t ignore underperforming reps in the interest of making themselves look better by comparison – they will extend a hand and work with them one-on-one to figure out how they can similarly improve their performances.

These are the 5 most common myths about top sales reps that we’ve encountered. We are determined to put an end to the spread of these dangerous misconceptions once and for all. What myths about the best sales reps have you come across? Share them with us below!

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