Build Sales Credibility By Overcoming Misconceptions

BY Jessica Helinski
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There are a lot of misconceptions about salespeople out there, often based on outdated stereotypes and old-​school behavior. But it’s not just buyers who hold them; many salespeople themselves cling to outdated ideals of what they should be. And these misconceptions can damage your sales credibility. Sellers need to understand these misconceptions if they hope to change them.

LinkedIn recently featured a discussion with sales professional and author David Kelly in which he talks about this topic. While working to solve his customers’ problems, Kelly encountered common misconceptions, held by buyers and sellers. This experience inspired him to be proactive in improving sales’ image by confronting misconceptions head-on.

Sales credibility is at stake

Overcoming these misconceptions is vital because they have a direct impact on success. They undermine sales credibility and can hinder building trust. But by understanding them, reps can actively take control of sales’ image and change it for the better.

The first misconception Kelly discusses is that great salespeople are great manipulators. This age-​old belief influences how sellers believe they should behave. As an example, Kelly points out the popularity of the movie "The Wolf of Wall Street." During a conversation with friends, it came up as an example of a great sales movie. But why? “The salespeople in that movie are these pushy con artists,” he explains. “That’s how people tend to think of us: that being a good salesperson just means being a good manipulator.”

He adds that, “As a young salesman, I thought being successful meant getting you to do something I want you to do. I was wrong. Great sellers help the buyer make a decision that’s going to be in their best interest.”

The key to success isn’t aggressively pushing a solution; this isn’t what makes you “great.” Forget the “always be closing mantra,” and, instead, consider adopting “always be helping.” This mindset shifts your intentions to a more buyer-​focused approach. This will be more successful with today’s buyers who are weary of sellers who seem to be out only for themselves. And research supports this: Buyers want to work with sellers who understand their problems and have a solution that fits and aren’t pushy or arrogant.

Misconception #2: Sales is about creating problems and then solving them.

This misconception ties into the previous one; sellers should never be so focused on making a sale that they desperately create an issue. Not only is that unethical, but today’s buyers won’t be impressed. You’ll lose any credibility you have, costing you the sale.

Right now, buyers have so much more knowledge on their side that they can sift that out easily,” Kelly explains. “If you’re not bringing real insight to the table, they’re going to figure it out.”

Buyers today are more educated than ever, and by the time you meet, they likely already have done research on their own. They won’t be fooled by a nonexistent issue. Instead, sellers need to be prepared to help them sift through the information they found and then add unique value to it with your own insights. You’ll be building sales credibility and trust, as well as giving buyers what they want. Our research revealed that over half of buyers say they want to work with a seller who “provides relevant insight and ideas to help my business.”

Moving away from this misconception better positions you as a modern seller who can deliver what modern buyers want.

You control how you’re perceived

It’s a battle to overcome sellers’ outdated image of a salesperson; sellers shouldn’t add to misconceptions by engaging in old-​school sales behaviors. Adjust your own idea of what makes a seller successful and lean into consultative selling techniques to build sales credibility, trust and confidence. You’ll find that these tactics resonate better, helping you shape a more positive sales image.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat​.com