5 common misconceptions

5 Common Misconceptions About Selling Most Sales People "Don’t Get"!

I have been fortunate to be in the sales business for almost 4 decades … the last 2o+ years designing, developing and delivering sales and sales management training programs for some of the world’s elite sales teams. Even when working with outstanding sales professionals some of these 5 common misconceptions don’t register. Would love to know your thoughts!

5 Common Misconceptions About Selling Most
Sales People “Don’t Get”!

Misconception #1 – selling is all about talking, telling and letting them know how fantastic our company, product/service and we ourselves are. I affectionately have termed it the “show up and throw up disease” and a lot of us are terminally infected with it. When we finally get in front of a prospect or client we throw up everything we know in hopes something will stick. The old adage says we have 1 mouth and 2 ears and we should use them in that proportion.



The reality in sales is we should have 10 ears! Selling is really about asking very well designed questions and listening carefully  to determine what needs the customer has and then, and only then, responding with specific recommendations to provide laser focused solutions.

Misconception #2 – selling is an adversarial competition with the client or customer! I will never forget hearing a consultant for a well known sales training company based in the U S say in a preview of their sales training course that we have to use “tie downs” with customers because they all lie! WOW … I was flabbergasted!

tug of war


Will clients lie to you? Unfortunately some will. That said, the overwhelming majority of folks I have had the privilege of working with through the years have been men and women of honesty, impeccable character and integrity who desire collaborative relationships with their sales reps. Turn it into a win/lose battle and you will eventually lose … to a sales pro who knows how to build trust based relationships. I guarantee it!

Misconception #3 – top sales people are just lucky! When I ask a sales manager who (hypothetically for easy math’s sake) has 100 sales reps how many of them are truly exceptional the answer is always somewhere between 3 to 8. That’s it! When I have the privilege of meeting one of them they stand out like a bright light!

bright light bulb



They look different, act different and think differently! The good news is that most everyone, not all, of the others in the room could be just as good if they wanted to. The bad news is that most won’t do what it takes. For years I have shared that the difference between winners and losers is that winners pay a price that losers won’t pay. They simply do the things losers won’t do. The sad part is that the difference is very small … only the winners know that! The losers never quite understand what keeps them from the top so the best of the best must just be lucky!

Misconception #4 – most sales people understand the importance of having a great attitude to be successful in sales. The misunderstanding is what a great attitude looks like and how you create one! A great attitude is not … “the world is rosy, everything is beautiful, head in the sand, naive approach to life”!


Quite the opposite. A great attitude is based on the ability to keep the world in its proper perspective. To see everything for what it is and be fully aware of the good, the bad and the ugly. But then choose to focus on the good! People with a great attitude develop that perspective by consistently feeding their minds with well grounded perspectives of the world around them through books, blogs, podcasts, webinars and dozens of other learning tools available these days!

Misconception #5 – sales is a numbers game! If you just see enough people you will eventually be successful. To some extent I agree but (there is that word but that means – here comes what I really want to say) there is a lot more to it than that. Saying sales is a numbers game is like saying if you want to catch a lot of fish just go to a lot of lakes. Sorry, not every lake has fish in it and if they do, they don’t all have the kind of fish we might want to catch!

numbers game

Want to really catch tons of fish and blow your sales numbers through the roof? Then;

  • Realize your time is your inventory and demand a great return on investment for that time/inventory
  • Stop acting like an employee! Look at your sales territory like a small business and make decisions like a entrepreneur or small business would
  • Identify who your ideal client is and build a book of business around those type of clients
  • Be intentional about building “high ROI” relationships where you are a partner/adviser to your clients instead of a supplier/vendor

Do that and watch what happens to the numbers game!

Socrates once said “the unexamined life isn’t worth living”. I will stop short of saying the unexamined sales career isn’t worth living but it certainly isn’t worth as much as the one that is under constant scrutiny for opportunities to improve. Do you have any of the misconceptions above? Perhaps others that are getting in your way? Then let’s ditch them and start working with new perspectives and new eyes!

Would love your thoughts so feel free to share them in the comments section below!

Now, get out there and do something to build the sales career, and life, YOU want!








Jim Jacobus