Tackling the Myth of the 'Sales Type'

James MensforthLast updated on May 2, 2024
5 min

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We’ve all suffered from bad sales calls—ones that take you by surprise and, despite your insistence that you’re not interested, keep going. This experience has led to the misconception that people who work in sales are pushy, money-oriented, and worse.

But in reality, sales is far more nuanced and, according to the Voice of SMBs 2024 research, relies more on customer connections than quick and dirty deals. So, for those looking to grow their sales team, what should they be looking for in a candidate? And, in the era of modern sales, is there such a thing as a ‘sales type’?

Tackling myths about salespeople

To explore the subject in more detail, I asked my sales and customer success colleagues Madelyn, Sean, and David to chip in with the biggest sales myths they’ve heard—and help explain why they’re not true. Below are the biggest fallacies they’ve run into.

Anyone can do it

The rise of AI has thrown up a lot of questions. And certainly in the workplace, chief among them is: is my job safe? Sales might seem like one of those roles threatened by AI, but as Global VP of Customer Success Madelyn DePrey argues, sales is a role that is a lot more complicated than we give it credit for:

“With the need to be very data-driven, intentional about where you spend your time, juggle lots of different initiatives, and always look forward—it’s fair to say that sales has become a more mature function. These are really tough skills that come with time and experience, listening to customers, coaching, and access to accurate data. You are certainly not born with all these things.”

Keen to close a deal above all else

Finding the right solution for a customer isn’t a race to the finish line. Some issues are more complex than others, and refusing to absorb them in full detail can give customers the sense that it’s the sale and not the problem a rep is focused on. Yet, according to Aircall’s NA Sales Manager, David Libin, some prospects say that the only details reps are interested in are their card details:

“I think the most typical thing people think when they hear salespeople is that they only care about winning the deal at any cost. But in my own experience, the most successful salespeople that I've seen are really consultants more than anything else.”

Self-obsessed and greedy

This might feel personal, but when the average person deals with multiple sales calls a day, it matters that they offer real value. As our Senior Director of Global Business Development, Sean Hayes, says:

“The modern salesperson is not sleazy, money-hungry, self-obsessed, and willing to sell you something you don't need. If you go to the sales floor at Aircall, you won't find people like that! But I do think that this idea comes from real life examples.”

The evolution of salespeople

These misconceptions might be hard to hear if you work in sales. Especially if you spend your day brushing up on your customer information and having meaningful conversations. But the truth is that bad sales tactics exist, and it’s worth appraising your own team’s performance, even if you’re convinced you’re hitting the sweet spot.

From the contribution of my colleagues, it’s clear that selling something customers don’t need leads to poor relationships. But the good news is that this approach is evolving. Not just on the sales floor, but across entire businesses. 

According to our Voice of SMBs report, 54% of small and medium-sized businesses say that one of the biggest growth drivers this year will be increasing connections and relationships with customers. So we have it in black and white—meaningful customer conversations drive success. Which means that those sales teams still clinging on to the notion of the cheap sell need to update their thinking. 

Out with the old, the evolved salesperson skill set calls for:

  • Curiosity

  • An eye for a good opportunity 

  • Grit

  • Ingenuity

  • Empathy

But, even with these under their belt, don’t forget—there’s no one-size-fits-all for salespeople. Leaders should tap into the personal strengths of their employees to deliver great customer experience in a raft of new ways. Further, the sales experience is always evolving, and even if the insights I’ve shared here surprise you, prepare yourself to be even more surprised in the future. 

What does the future of sales look like?

To explore the future of sales and some areas team leads should proactively look into, I went back to my sales braintrust—Madelyn, David, and Sean—to get their predictions.

More wow moments for customers and teams

Madelyn sees a resurgence in the need for meaningful human experiences on the horizon. “Coming out of Covid, we assumed that people would never want to do an in-person meeting again. But that's just not been the case. The pendulum is swinging back because those human connections and wow moments became even more valuable. We can't shy away from that and we can't replace it with AI.”

Value will become a non-negotiable

If customers are willing to put up with value-free calls now, they certainly won’t in the future. According to David, the amount of information, and even technologies like AI, will change buyers. He explains, “Buyers themselves are going to continue to be able to educate themselves more than ever before.” This means that when they get to the point of speaking to a salesperson, they’re going to have a better nose for cynical sales tactics. Meaning the ways salespeople listen and deliver value will only become more important—and genuine.

AI will have a bigger role, but so will your people

The odds on AI having a bigger role in the future workplace are not long ones. But Sean is quick to point out that the rise of AI won’t come at the expense of workers. As he explains, “It will be the teams that can harness AI as a copilot in 2024 that will be in the best position to sell effectively in 2025. But the more AI is impacting processes within sales, the more listening, empathy, and soft skills will become an even more important part of the process.” Sales is changing and what’s becoming an increasingly important metric is net retention. AI can support this shift by taking some of the sales team’s  busywork away from them and freeing them up to notice more trends, deliver more value, and retain more customers.

Changing the face of sales for the better

As we’ve explored, there’s definitely an outdated ‘sales type’. But, let’s be honest, there’s not a sales leader on earth that would want that type on their team. That’s because it’s a Frankenstein’s monster of bad customer interactions. To change this, sales leaders need to embrace individuality and human connection, and invest in the right tools to support both. Only then can we change the face of sales—not just for the sake of the customer, but ourselves.

To find out how to elevate the performance of your sales team, drop our team a line today.

Published on May 2, 2024.

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