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The Internet — it is the Wild Wild West of information. As anyone who has spent time on the Internet knowns, there are statements delivered as facts that circle the World Wide Web all the time that contain no real facts behind them. People get suckered into believing these statements all the time. We’re all guilty of it.

Over the past year, my colleagues and I have noticed a number of myths present in B2B sales and marketing discussions. Some of them are spread across LinkedIn, others on blog posts. Here are some common B2B sales myths that many people believe in. These are myths that have been pushed by experts in the field and I’d like to analyze them more closely.

Myth #1: Salespeople need to make 70 phone calls to book one meeting


True or False?

Not true, at least in most European countries. Here at Vainu, we have collected data from tens of thousands of phone calls and in most of the countries the number is somewhere between 10 and 20. In the U.S., the number is higher, but it varies a lot between different industries and products/services being sold. Smart salespeople understand that it’s easier to reach a manager of a medium-sized company than a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Because of these differences, it’s somewhat misleading to state a certain number as a universal fact or average.

Myth #2: Almost 80% of all deals require at least five follow-up conversations, but most people give up a lot earlier in the process


True or False?

Difficult to say whether this is true or not, but this statement is often used in the wrong context. It doesn’t mean that a salesperson should get six “no thanks” messages from a prospect before understanding there is no need for his/her product or service. If the sentence is describing the the average number of discussions before a sale, it would be highly beneficial to include some information and context. What are the products and services being sold, in which markets, and who are the buyers? Some products can be sold completely without human interaction, some products are typically sold in the first meeting and some larger deals might require tens of discussions and meetings.

Myth #3: Cold calling is dead


True or False?

Everyone seems to have an opinion about cold calling. It’s a widely used sales method and there are lot of organizations that deliver strong results with this approach. With technology, many of these calls can be less cold because salespeople can easily gather important background information and insights on prospects’ current needs. If cold calling means all those sales interactions where a salesperson makes the first contact attempt, this statement if completely untrue.

Many fast growing companies have built effective inside sales teams that proactively go after new prospects without waiting for some sort of engagement with website content. Even the companies that promote inbound methodology, including Hubspot, use outbound methods to maximize their growth. For example, this fall Hubspot posted several “Business Development Representative” job openings where they describe the role with responsibilities including “generate new interest through calls, emails and social media messaging”, “high volume prospecting” and “make between 40-60 calls per day.” In my opinion, Hubspot is a good example of a company that relies on data-driven “smartbound” prospecting, a method that combines the best parts of inbound and outbound sales.

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Smartbound - the method that combines the best parts of #inbound and #outbound sales.

Myth #4: B2B sales has changed in the past 5 years more than in the past 50 years


True or False?

I don’t have a detailed understanding of how a typical day for a salesperson was in 1967, but common sense suggests that a typical day for a salesperson five years ago was much closer to today’s routines than those of the late sixties. In 1967, there was no internet, email, cellphones, powerpoint/keynote presentations. Furthermore, decision-making processes must have been quite different back then. In 2012, however, we already had social media, marketing automation, SaaS-based CRMs and it was easy to find blog posts covering solution selling, value-based selling and the importance of building thought leadership in sales.

It’s also worth noting that technology is advancing lot faster than the basic human principles in sales. In 1936, Dale Carnegie published his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, which is one of the best sales books ever written.

Myth #5: 57% of the buyer’s journey is completed before sales becomes involved


True or False?

False. This is a good example of a statistic that many people have shared without paying too much attention to the research behind that “fact”. This insightful blog post studies this statistic in detail and finds it at least problematic. It’s based on a study by CEO.com and Domo where the actual respondent size came in at only 22 large B2B organizations in 10 industries. The original report was 41 pages long and the 57% stat was mentioned only once on page 2. The report, however, stated a disclaimer that “this research may not satisfy the information needs of all readers.”

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Claiming 57% of the buyer’s journey is completed before sales becomes involved is a myth. #B2Bsales

There are other variations of this myth. Sometimes the number is 67%, and that seems to be based on a study made by the company Sirius Decisions. That same company wrote a blog post “Three Myths of the ‘67 Percent’ Statistic” that highlighted some of the common misunderstandings about the statistic.

Myth #6: If you want succeed in sales, you need to be active in social media


True or False?

False. For example, here at Vainu, we have many successful sales people and some of them are active in social media while others are not. That’s also the message we hear from our customers. Social media can definitely be a valuable channel, but it is not mandatory for a successful B2B sales person to be active.

Myth #7: All buyers are on social media


True or False?

False. According to research from CEO.com and Domo, 60 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence whatsoever. And while Facebook and YouTube have 1 billion or more monthly active users, many other platforms are far behind. LinkedIn has slightly over 100 million active monthly users and Twitter and Pinterest both have a little bit over 300 million.

For sure, there are a lot of people on social media, but not everyone is an active user. And if you start counting B2B buyers who actively use many platforms on a daily basis, the numbers start to look very different.

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You don’t need #socialselling to become a successful sales person as far from all buyers have an active social media presence. #b2bsales

Who is creating these false myths about B2B sales?

Most of the people share these statistics with good intentions. They might want to provide a wake-up call for the audience about the importance of a certain topic or phenomenon. Generalization can be a powerful way to increase the impact of those messages.

But without providing enough information or context, these statements are in many cases not true. The world is not that black and white, and the same holds true for B2B sales. It’s important to interpret trends and see what implications and opportunities they have on your business. But it’s also important that we know how to analyze all these statistics and one-liner statements that are floating around on social media. Take it all with a grain of salt, so to speak.

I wanted to leave you with one statement based on hundreds of discussions with different type of sales organizations. I think we can all agree this is a universal truth in B2B sales:

Sales teams that work most systematically are the ones that often deliver the best results.


True or False?
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7 B2B sales myths. Or is cold calling dead and does seller and buyer have to be in the same room?

Topics: B2B Sales

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