• Community, Advice

It's time to retire these sales myths

The famous ABC ("Always Be Closing") sales technique is taught and embraced in many industries. This high-pressure mentality would be recognized as a recipe for disaster, if it weren't for two supporting sales myths that excuse (and perhaps encourage) bad sales behavior.

The two myths? I'm confident you know them:

1. Sales is just a numbers game.

2. Every no gets me closer to a yes.

Imagine a motivated young salesperson who is taught aggressive closing techniques backed by these two myths. The last prospect hung up on me? No problem — every no gets me closer to a yes. I said something that isn't quite true? No problem — sales is just a numbers game.

Those operating under the influence of these myths do staggering damage to the reputation of professional salespeople. They seek to close the deal regardless of the impact on the customer relationship, and are left trying to outrun the customer churn.

Is that how you want to do business?

How to Combat These Myths

It is true that your business funnel has more potential buyers than customers. Understanding your performance and your numbers is important, but that doesn't mean you have to treat people like a number.

The best way to combat the numbers game is to employ the Pareto principle, which says that 80% of effects come from just 20% of causes. In sales, that means that it's the 20% of your customers that generate 80% of your revenue you must treat like royalty. Research shows that you are sabotaging your success if you spend time chasing customers who will never be big sources of revenue. But that's just what happens with an "every no gets me closer to a yes" mentality.

To improve your focus on your top 20%, consider the following exercise:

● Identify who your top customers (the 20%) are

● Designate the 20% as key customers and give them the royal treatment, even at the expense of the 80%

● Let your vibrant relationships with the 20% spill over to the 80% (instead of your frustration with the 80% affecting your treatment of the 20%)

● Determine the common factors (demographics, personality, etc.) among your 20%

● Optimize your business to serve the 20% even better

This approach will create a virtuous circle where you get to know your best customers better and your business gives them an amazing experience, which improves your reputation, which leads to new opportunities in the industry, which allows you to know your customers even better and improve their experience even more. You’ll never treat them like a number, because you, your staff and your customers will know they are valuable.

Final note: When your key customers say no, it doesn't get you closer to a yes, it gets you closer to going out of business. If they are saying no, a numbers game won’t save you. You'd better figure out what’s going on and address it ASAP.

Good luck selling and serving!

Jeff McKinney Jeff S McKinney is an introverted nuclear engineer turned professional salesperson. Contact ​him at​ for coaching, or visit​ for info.