The Single Selling Principle and the 8 Myths of Selling

The single sales principle states:

“People buy when a compelling need is met by a credible solution that offers perceived value.”

Simple. Too simple? Well, as Jim Collins asserts in his book Good to Great, “Freud, Darwin, and Einstein all had one thing in common. They took a complex world and simplified it.” And principled salespeople do just that. They understand that selling doesn’t have to be complicated. They simply make the purchase easier for the customer.

It’s one of the two things they have in common. They are customer-centric, not sales-centric.

The other thing that principled sellers have in common is that they never follow the 8 Myths of Selling. Just never.

The 8 Myths of Selling were taught by well-meaning sales leaders who sought to pass on the wisdom and knowledge their sales leaders had passed on to them. However, as with a cult, no one had questioned whether they were true. The 8 myths may have worked in their day, but they just don’t work today.

Do you remember how you felt when you discovered there was no such thing as Santa Claus? I remember well. It was December 12, 1971 and my (so-called) best friend Johnny Harrison broke the fateful news of a Curly Wurly. I felt like I had been cheated on. You don’t question what you were told as a child? They just believe it’s true.

Well, that’s how I felt the day I found out that everything I’d been taught in sales up to that point was a complete lie? all myths. They were theories that had no substance in the modern world.

As you enter most retail spaces, you’ll see the 8 Myths of Selling proudly displayed on the wall (probably next to the goal and the “Inspiration” poster):

“Attitude sets the altitude”

“People buy people”

“Always close”

“Customers like to talk about themselves”

“It’s a numbers game”

“Sell the Sizzle, Not the Sausage”

“money talks”

“Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail”

Be honest, you believe at least half of the 8 myths yourself, right? You’re not alone.

Most salespeople will cite them as the “Gospel of Selling.” Suggest they’re myths and they’ll think you’ve gone insane.

On the surface, the 8 myths look perfectly reasonable. Set in a picture frame, each looks positively motivating. And I’m sure they made a lot of sense back then. But things are changing. And the sale too.

Myth 1: Always close

If you must use closing techniques to get a sale, you clearly haven’t demonstrated that your product meets the requirements. Instead of forcing the customer into a decision they will regret, simply go back to where you lost them in the buying process and start again from there. When you apply the Single Sales Principle®, you don’t have to close…the customer should ask you to buy.

Myth 2: Attitude determines altitude

Abraham Lincoln asked, “If you call the tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?” Four. Calling a dick a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” Looking in the mirror and telling yourself, “You’re a tiger” won’t work if you don’t believe in your product.

The better the value proposition, the better a seller’s attitude. Single Principle Sellers ensure they have a deep, genuine belief in their value proposition.

Myth 3: People buy people

People buy when the product/service meets the customer’s needs cost-effectively. No amount of chatter with a customer will make up for a bad product match.

Of course, it is important in sales to be likeable. But isn’t it important in all professions? Friendly plumbers are easier to deal with than unfriendly plumbers. Friendly bus drivers are easier to deal with than unfriendly bus drivers. Dealing with friendly lawyers is more pleasant than dealing with unfriendly lawyers (unless they are part of your team of course!) no common sense!”

In the good ol’/bad ol’ days, salespeople used their charm (“beauty”) to mask this lack of a credible solution (“common sense”). Today’s professional buyer can see through this. What’s underneath matters most.

Myth 4: Customers like to talk about themselves

We have attended thousands of sales calls. Some were good. Some were bad. And some were downright ugly. The bad ones were the ones where the seller didn’t ask any questions at all. They launch into their features and benefits without considering what the buyer actually needs.

And then there were the ugly calls. The seller knew he needed to do fact finding and gather as much information about the customer as possible. So they launched a “Spanish Inquisition” and asked a list of meaningless questions that just bored the customer.

Yes, there is a certain amount of information that needs to be identified in a sales intervention as without it it is difficult to make a recommendation and know if the opportunity is worth fighting for. But this is all for your benefit, not hers. Must make sales, not customer bios.

Myth 5: It’s a numbers game

Average salespeople go a long way by putting in many hours and walking around contacting many people. Do you then make “phantom forecasts”? overly optimistic sales forecasts based on a pipeline of offers that never translate into actual deals. This is because the needs identified in the sales pitch were not compelling needs.

Just having a need doesn’t mean the customer will act on it. Many of the deals in a seller’s pipeline don’t close because the customer keeps delaying the decision. Playing the numbers game doesn’t help them get more sales. It just creates more work for themselves and everyone around them.

The principled seller makes sure the needs are compelling before presenting the solution. Why? This is the only way you can be sure that the customer will be motivated to act.

Myth 6: Sell the sizzle, not the sausage

We love the concept of making presentations sizzle. Our problem with the “selling the sizzle” myth is how salespeople think they can fool a customer with fancy presentations that show a lot but have little substance.

At first glance, “Selling the Sizzle” makes perfect sense. A bratwurst sizzling on a griddle sells much better than an uncooked sausage sitting in the fridge. But that’s because the hissing stimulates your senses and draws attention to the fact that you’re hungry. The hiss satisfies your imperative need.

Have you ever smelled a sizzling sausage when you have food poisoning? You would probably feel even worse then. This is because your need this time is not hunger. In fact, food is the last thing you need.

Myth 7: Money talks

Listen to buyers and you would think they really believe money talks. Buyers are a brutal species who only rejoice at the price of making a salesperson sweat. They fool them into thinking it’s all about cost, and if the seller doesn’t lower their price, they find a supplier who will. In fact, some buyers believe in this hype themselves.

But customers actually want value, not the cheapest price. If people wanted cheap, we’d all be driving around in 10-year-old cars and shopping at charity stores. Products are only perceived as expensive if the customer does not appreciate the value. You will never lose a deal on price, only on value.

Myth 8: If you don’t plan, you plan to fail

Sellers tend to fall into two camps: those who plan too much and those who hardly plan.

Those who plan too much tend to be “busy fools,” meaning running around doing little. When we call these salespeople, they show us their entire plan: a tour of the client’s website? The history? a list of questions they will ask? Competitor information, etc. The problem is that they don’t even refer to that.

The second type are the sellers who plan very little. In fact, most sellers fall into this category. You might be surprised to learn that single principle sellers do the same.

“Hooray!” I hear the scream from the sales community at large. “What? No need to plan?” Not quite!

Peter Drucker, the management guru, defined the difference between “effectiveness” and “efficiency” as follows:

“Efficiency means doing things right? Effectiveness means doing the right things.”

A principled salesperson is effective because they identify the right things. Because of this, they often work fewer hours than the average artist.

Cartoonist Doug Larson said of time management, “For disappearing acts, it’s hard to beat what happens to the eight hours that are supposedly left over after eight hours of sleep and eight hours of work.” I think we can all relate to that sentiment. Life is too short to plan.

The 8 Myths of Selling Summary

Winston Churchill said, “Out of intense complexities come simplifications.” Selling has become a complicated business. But it doesn’t have to be. Simple is good.

And that’s why great salespeople follow the Single Sales Principle®. By focusing on matching compelling needs with credible solutions that provide perceived value, you will sell successfully. We guarantee it. Follow the 8 myths and you will be frustrated and disillusioned with our wonderful profession.

Original article written by Mark Blackmore (Managing Director of Lambore)

For more information on the Single Sales Principle sales training program, please contact:

Ben Thompson

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