Outdated Sales Tactics to Leave Behind

BY Jessica Helinski
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Outdated sales tactics can be tough to identify. Old-​school and traditional techniques are entrenched in the sales industry, and many reps may not even realize their behaviors aren’t a fit for modern buyers. “To meet these evolving demands, sellers need to pivot—change the way they’re prospecting, pitching and communicating with customers,” LinkedIn’s Steve Kearns explains. “The solution is buyer-​first selling, and it means ditching a lot of old standby sales techniques in favor of buyer-​centric practices.”

4 Outdated Behaviors

Kearns goes on to discuss five sales techniques that reps should leave behind (and what they should do instead). Below are a few highlights:

1.) No Personalization

2.) Talking to Buyers Like They’re Companies, Not People

3.) Being Too Rigid and Formulaic

4.) Information gating and incentivizing

Remember, Prospects Are People

No personalization. One of the best things a salesperson can do to make a stellar impression on a buyer today is to personalize each and every communication. Kearns advises against the outdated old-​school “spray and pray” prospecting, which is when sellers shoot out automated messages to anyone and everyone, hoping to hear back from anyone. These types of messages come across as impersonal spam, and they will likely not stand out from the many others that buyers receive. Instead, use your knowledge of the prospect and their business to catch their attention and encourage a meeting. “Be selective about who you reach out to, and let your thoughtfulness show through in the communication,” he writes. “Lead with the buyer and their context, not yourself or your solution.”

Talking to buyers like they’re companies, not people. Yes, buyers you interact with do represent their company. But remember, they are people, too, not just a company decision-​maker. They likely will be who is actually putting your product or service to use. Outdated behaviors Take the opportunity to connect with the prospect and uncover how you can directly impact them. As Kearns points out, “Putting individual relationships above company selling is a strong signal that you’re invested in the success of a prospect.”

Processes Must Change with Buyer Needs

Being too rigid and formulaic. Buyers evolve. Sellers must also evolve. Formulaic sales processes are outdated and won’t appeal to modern buyers. Today’s B2B buyers want a customized, fluid approach that they actually enjoy. Reps should now focus on the “buyer journey.” “The seller’s challenge of overcoming objections has transformed to the more proactive process of ‘removal of barriers,’” explains SalesFuel’s Tim Londergan. “Closing a sale is now guiding the purchase. Some may see it as simple semantics, but in a larger sense, it is a sensitivity to customer accommodation. Think of yourself as a buyer concierge. Regardless of your outlook, helping the buyer on their journey can build revenue, encourage repeat business and improve profitability for your company.”

By shifting to a buyer-​first mentality, your process is instantly more flexible, and you can adapt to shifts that inevitably occur along the way.

Information gating and incentivizing. The outdated technique of baiting prospects needs to be abandoned. Attempting to lure in prospects with breadcrumbs of information or gatekeeping content won’t work with today’s smart buyers. These behaviors also don’t align with the aforementioned buyer-​first mentality that reps should be adopting. A buyer-​first mentality encourages sharing readily, which presents value and reveals you care enough to do homework.

If you’ve done your research, it’s easy to share trends, insights and information specific to the buyer’s industry and role, allowing you to establish yourself as an expert committed to adding value,” Kearns explains. “Gating assets doesn’t need to be eliminated as a lead gen tactic, but should be reserved for later-​funnel resources that are distinctly valuable. Too often, putting quality content behind a wall means prospects will never be able to see it and appreciate it.”

Outdated sales techniques just won’t cut it with buyers today (or in the future). Shake off the ingrained behaviors that are lingering and adopt updated tactics to broaden your appeal and keep you competitive.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson