I’ve been selling for over 30 years, and it’s been huge fun…. Well most of the time. I’ve seen some incredible changes, and I can say without a doubt that sales is fun, critically important to scaling businesses, financially lucrative, and intellectually stimulating.
But being a salesperson now is very different to what it was when I started. Buyers have changed, and salespeople have to change with them. Although it’s arguably more difficult to sell effectively now, it’s also easier for top performers to differentiate themselves.
Many sales tactics that worked when I started my career simply don’t work any more. Here’s a few of them.
1. Cold calling
Cold calling is hard, wasteful, ugly, and negatively impacts your brand and potential success; it’s also not nearly as effective as inbound selling.
Try using the hour you use for cold calls to do something different.. you’ll create more leads blogging than you can in several hours of cold calling. Blog articles live forever, and if you’re smart with them, they’ll keep creating interest.
Do research to offer up a compelling reason for your initial call, work inbound leads that want to talk to you, and provide helpful insights to potential prospects on social media before engaging.
2. Treating your product demonstration as the be-all and end-all
Product demonstrations used to be incredibly important for the final close. There was pretty much no way a prospect could learn about the product on their own, short of watching an acquaintance or reference use it.
Even if your competitor doesn’t have the same product features today, they’ll probably have it in the next 24 months, and best-in-class features are integrated into every product much more quickly and effectively.
The real differentiators are culture, company, and your ability to solve problems, so use them.
3. Telling, not asking
In the old days, we did a lot of telling: “You need this. You have to have that.” Our prospects had no choice but to listen to us, because we held all the knowledge and power in the relationship.
Selling is more solution-based than ever before, so you can’t take the lead in sales conversations from the beginning. You have to ask pertinent questions that pull out relevant information and make 100% sure you understand your prospect’s situation before you begin making any sort of recommendation.
4. Ignoring the prospect relationship
There are two laws that govern modern business relationships: Everyone exists online, and your digital reputation is forever.
Salespeople either recognise this and use it to their advantage, or they don’t. It’s your choice, but if you ignore the reality of modern selling it can have dire consequences. Don’t think that pushing a deal through won’t come back to bite you. Do it enough times and you’ll have unhappy prospects steering their networks away from you.
5. Selling alone
Team selling always wins. If you are missing your number and not working with a sales coach or your manager to improve your performance, you deserve to go onto a performance improvement plan. If your manager won’t help you, find a senior person in the organisation who will.
Better still, and especially of you work on your own, get a sales coach and meet regularly. Find someone who might be a bit further in their career who has shown a consistent, logical approach to exceeding their number who can analyse your current skills.
6. Hammering a prospect with too many calls and emails
If you call a prospect three times in a day and send two follow-up emails, you’re coming on too strong. To be honest ….. if you’re doing half of that, you’re coming on too strong. Don’t assume your prospects are viewing your relentless “spirit” as admirable or a sign of dedication and hard work. Those three emails you sent over the weekend are making you look desperate and disorganised.
Spread out your communication, add new information and value to each attempted contact and if it still isn’t getting a response, don’t be afraid to use what I call a “last attempt email”.
If you’d like to learn more about last attempt emails or any of the other approaches listed here, then get in touch.