Top sales myths to debunk in 2023

By Wendy Harris, above, Head of EMEA at Gong 

Businesses are bracing against economic volatility this winter season. Soaring inflation and a recession does not typically pave the way for an environment of growth. Business leaders are forced to take preventive steps to withstand the impact of a wave of decline, and therefore are not often ruling in favour of big purchases.

More than ever, vendors cannot afford to let sales deals fall through and watch potential customers go elsewhere or not buy at all. Sales pitching will only become more complex and difficult in the upcoming period of economic decline, as customers will be more cautious with their 2023 budgets – new products and services will likely be nearer the bottom of the agenda than normal. With that in mind, using outdated tactics might be putting additional strain and holding revenue teams back from converting customers and securing sales.
One way of helping revenue teams weather the economic storm is determining some of the most common sales mistakes and trying to avoid them. Backed by data from Gong’s research team, which analyses millions of sales conversations and deal information, we’ve compiled nine myths to be aware of:

MYTH #1: Avoid scheduling calls at the end of the day

Sales professionals often try to schedule calls first thing to avoid conflicting with other meeting times and catch a customer before the swing of their hectic day gets underway. However, data shows that the morning may be the worst time to secure a call. In fact, sales reps have a 20% better chance of getting someone on a call at 5pm when no-show rates drop below 15%, versus 18% at 9am.

MYTH #2: Using a customer reference helps to close deals

Name-dropping existing customers is not always the best way to impress prospects. If they feel an identity mismatch with the existing customer, they are actually more likely to be driven in the opposite direction and might feel that they’re not the best target audience for the product or service. Sales professionals that use social proof techniques are found to have 22% lower close rate, so before tempting prospects with other customers’ case studies, the sales team will need to be certain they’ve done their research.

MYTH #3: Short is better when developing prospecting emails

Unlike common theory, brevity in email copy is not always key. A 30-word email lacks value and detail that longer messaging is likely to get across. Broad sentences lack the conviction needed and won’t be enough to tip a prospective customer over the edge. General sales terms also lose the reader’s attention. Something that is meaningful and still 130 words or fewer has much more chance of sticking in someone’s mind – emails with at least four sentences outperform shorter ones, resulting in 15 times the number of scheduled meetings.

MYTH #4: Discussing price too early can end it all

Now more than ever, customers want to know exactly what they’ll be paying for and if they get value for money out of it. They’re also more attuned to talking around the price in this economic climate, and will be more trusting if a salesperson openly understands their financial constraints. Data shows that sales reps who bring up price in 38-46 minutes of a call generate the best results. There is a 42% win rate when this happens in the first call, a 32% win rate in the second, and a 15% in the third.

MYTH #5: Always try to get a meeting in the calendar

Time is a limited resource, and prospective customers are strapped for it. Though it’s always worthwhile to attempt getting a customer to a meeting, initial cold emails requesting time in the calendar yield a low 15% success rate in a Gong Labs study. A better method is to use an interest-based call to action and securing a slot in the diary when their interest has been piqued.

MYTH #6: Using slides helps reinforce your message

While slides help customers conceptualise a product and the purpose it may serve them, the first discovery call should be an in-depth conversation between the sales rep and the prospective customer rather than a pitch. Slides can create a formal and impersonal environment that will put a strain on the chemistry between the two parties. Our data shows that discovery calls with slides were 17% less likely to result in a follow-up meeting than those without.

MYTH #7: Presenting ROI is a requisite of the sales process

As a seller, appealing to prospective buyer’s emotions and developing a mutual connection is more important than proving immediately that there will be a return on investment. Decisions are often made based on how salespeople make customers feel, and the logic and facts come in later. Our data shows that there is a 27% drop in close rates when ROI is discussed at any stage in the sales process.

MYTH #8: The buyer needing ‘time to think’ signals your deal is at risk

The response “Give me some time to think” is often interpreted as discouraging – and even more likely a polite way of declining. However, this is not necessarily the case. Close rates are actually higher when a prospective customer takes time to think. But the warning flag should rise anyway – data shows that these words indicate the sales cycle will extend by 173%.

MYTH #9: Swearing negatively impacts sales

Data shows an 8% increase in close rates when the salesperson and the buyer curse as opposed to nobody cursing. Though it comes as a surprise, it shows that the buyer has a level of trust and comfort that is allowing them to speak more authentically with the salesperson. However, there’s a caveat – the prospect needs to be the first person to let their professional guard down by swearing! Only that way buyers and reps can feel more comfortable when they bond over “breaking the rules” together.