Neil Rackham Debunks 10 Myths of Professional Selling

Heading into the new year, Neil Rackham, the world’s greatest voyeur of professional selling, debunks 10 myths that may be preventing you and your sales force from reaching peak performance levels:

  1. “Selling is selling – a good salesperson can sell anything.”
  2. “To get more orders, make more calls.”
  3. “Always call high.”
  4. “Use plenty of open questions – they’re more powerful than closed questions.”
  5. “Close early and close often.”
  6. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
  7. “Salespeople are born, not made.”
  8. “Welcome objections – they’re a sure sign of buyer interest.”
  9. “Never attack the competition.”
  10. “Give the most attention to your biggest accounts.”

Do any of these sound familiar? Have you or your sales force fallen prey to any of these commonly held myths? If so, now may be the time to rethink your strategies and tactics as you set out to boost sales in 2009.

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5 Responses to “Neil Rackham Debunks 10 Myths of Professional Selling”

  1. Gareth Oz January 4, 2009 at 3:34 pm #

    “Salespeople are born, not made.” Surely this is the most dubious and most protectionist statement ever – it’s as bad as saying “I don’t expect you to understand football, you’re a woman!”. Stand back and await the incoming!

    I definitely believe that the skills associated with a high performing salesperson are those attributed to a positive, decision making and creative person (a ‘red and yellow’ if you are familiar and sign up to the RGYB style of personality profiling) but all of these attributes can be trained in some form or another and good salespeople can definitely be developed, honed and stimulated to achieve great results.

  2. admin January 4, 2009 at 4:23 pm #

    Gareth – Thank you for visiting. You are absolutely correct – “good salespeople can definitely be developed, honed and stimulated to achieve great results” – which is why we list this statement – “Salespeople are born, not made” – as one of the top 10 myths of professional selling.

  3. wood January 19, 2009 at 6:24 pm #

    I do not believe that all salespeople are born, not made. But I do believe that there are those who are born to be great salespeople or at least are born with the “it” that is needed to become a phenom.

    The “it” is something that can not be developped just because we train and groom people. Some people have it and others don’t. the one’s who do not can become good or even great at the fundimentals. There are many schools that teach people how to draw and paint but from these schools few if any masterpieces are created. i believe the truth is that though many can be taught something and can regeritate it upon request there are the few that genuinely sell better because they have the “it” that can not be measured. This “it” having salesman draws on the intuitive and the other unmeasurables and is able to connect deeper and develop insights that can put us in awe.

    As a researcher and a salesman I would like to discuss in greater detail how we identify and possibly quantify these traits of people in advance of them knowing it themselves. how do we find them early in their career before others do and groom them and grow them to become great producers for our organizations and for themselves with sales mastery?

  4. mhobert April 15, 2009 at 9:34 am #

    There two items on list that I wish to ‘call out.’

    “Always call high.” In my experience, sales professionals often stay too close to their comfort zones. They’ll frequently call on only one or two contacts (usually lower-level buyers and end-users) and neglect the higher levels of the customer’s organization. If you don’t establish, build and maintain relationships at every level within your customer’s organization then you are creating a zone of weakness your competition can exploit. I say “call high, low and middle; call at every level.”

    “Use plenty of open questions – they’re more powerful than closed questions.” The art of asking thoughtful questions and carefully listening to the answers, is the core talent of any truly great sales professional. As a sales trainer I spend a lot of time and energy cultivating this talent among the newly-hired sales professionals with whom I work. Open questions are more likely to be thoughful questions that elicit the valuable information you need to learn from your customers. Open questions are not the only tool to use in a good customer interview, but if you master their use, you’ll be more successful than you would if you never put the energy into developing your talents.

    This is a great website.

    Thanks for the opportunity to express my thoughts. Good selling!

  5. Charles September 8, 2009 at 8:49 pm #

    Neil: Thanks for reducing to writing what I have often thought or stated, but not as succinctly.

    I agree with all these myths and note that there is a time to act – call high, close etc – but too often have heard my ‘leaders’ mindlessly sprout the inanities mentioned, without any intimacy of the situation.

    I hope that the profession may be enriched & future sales reps may benefit from the legacy of your teachings today.

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