Outdated sales tactics have no place in today’s sales world. Buyers now are more informed and discerning than those in the past, thanks to the internet. Reps who do not update their strategies and techniques will be left behind. Marc Wayshak writes about this topic for HubSpot, discussing why reps need to stay current. He highlights “ten old-school sales techniques” to avoid to stay successful in today’s sales world.
Outdated sales tactics to avoid
Wayshak leads readers through his list of old-school tactics that he believes need replaced. You may be surprised at some of his selections, as many are common strategies that reps may rely on.
One such technique is pitching. While traditionally, pitching a product or service has been a primary part of the sales process, Wayshak believes it’s outdated. In reality, he thinks it’s time to face the truth: Prospects don’t care about your product or service. He writes, “They only care about the problems you can help them solve.” Rather than focusing on pitching what you’re selling, focus on the prospect. Ask effective questions to dig deep and uncover their needs, challenges and goals. Then, pitch a full solution that integrates your product or service, painting a picture of how they will use it to overcome issues and meet goals.
Rachel Cagle recently wrote a blog for SalesFuel discussing “outcome selling,” and she agrees that this tactic is suited for the modern buyer. “You may think it’s your product or service that you’re selling to your clients, and while that’s technically true, it isn’t the whole story,” she explains. “Your prospects likely don’t care about your product or service as a standalone purchase. What they care about is how exactly that product or service of yours is going to benefit them specifically.” Instead of using the outdated method of revolving the pitch around you, you’re shifting the focus to the prospect, which will have a more effective impact on prospects.
Another technique that you should reconsider is actually an extension of the one just mentioned: overselling. “Prospects these days have access to enough research materials and resources to develop a solid baseline understanding of your product or service on their own time,” Wayshak explains.” That means they can approach their interactions with you with knowledge of your offering's specs.” Use your time spent with prospects wisely; avoid going over every single feature of what you’re selling. Most likely, they will have already researched your product or service and are knowledgeable about your offerings. Instead, showcase what they might not know: the value you’re offering.
What's also outdated is the idea that you should be selling to anyone and everyone. You might think the more clients, the better. But you likely would just be setting yourself up for inevitable loss. “It’s time to stop selling to anyone with a pulse, regardless of whether they’re a good fit for your product,” he writes. “Instead, only focus on talking to prospects who are a good fit for what you have to offer.” Qualifying each and every lead is vital to the health of your pipeline. Plus, it saves you from wasting precious time and energy on a prospect that isn’t a good fit.
Wayshak also warns against faking enthusiasm. Sure, enthusiasm for what you’re selling really can have an impact. But forcing yourself to put on a show won’t have a positive effect. Outdated advice encouraged reps to sell themselves as well, which has led to a presumption that overly eager, excited, fast-talking salespeople make the sale.
This definitely isn’t the case for today’s sales-weary buyers. “Every well-meaning salesperson out there is guilty of faking enthusiasm,” he acknowledges. “Prospects always recognize an overly cheery sales voice, and it scares prospects off right away.” Instead, a calm tone is a better choice. This doesn’t mean masking genuine enthusiasm or excitement when you feel it but rather not forcing yourself to show those emotions to make a sale.
Wayshak also warns against another outdated tactic: overwhelming the prospect with phone calls, messages and emails. Again, enthusiasm has its place in selling, but don’t overdo it. “The traditional, stereotypical salesperson saw merit in being relentless, but that ‘relentlessness’ doesn't exactly hold up nowadays,” he explains. Patience and a balanced sales cadence is what will appeal to today’s buyers. The last thing you want to do is appear desperate or pushy.
Is it time to change?
Likely, you’ve experienced some signs that point to outdated sales tactics, but you might not have realized what those signs meant. Wayshak, after highlighting the outdated sales tactics, goes on to give examples of some common red flags. Here are a couple:
- Connection rates are falling. Have you noticed that your connection rate (the rate at which you connect with prospects against the number of attempts it takes) is worsening? Are you having difficulty making any connections with prospects? This is a sign that you might be using outdated sales tactics. “Your connection rate demonstrates how well your sales process is performing out of the gate,” Wayshak explains. “It's also one of the metrics most easily impacted by outdated sales practices. If you're noticing some lackluster connection figures, it might be time to reevaluate your process.”
- Warm leads are few and far between. Take a moment and consider the flow of warm leads you’re handling. If they’re lacking, this could be a sign of an outdated process. Wayshak notes that filling your pipeline with mostly cold leads signals you might be trying to sell to anyone “with a pulse,” whether it’s someone you came across on LinkedIn or the contact of a contact. Make sure your lead generating involves plenty of warm calls to prospects rather than the outdated tactic of reaching out blindly.
Wayshak points out that the sales landscape is constantly evolving, and today’s buyers are vastly different from the ones in the past. Outdated sales tactics must be updated if you want to keep pace with buyers and competitors. “Though it can be easy to get complacent with your sales process and the tactics that shape it, you need to remain privy to the ways you can keep improving and moving forward,” he advises. Consider his advice and take a look at your own practices, as well as any current issues you may be facing. Ridding yourself of outdated strategies will keep you competitive and successful.