The ‘mom jeans’ of sales tactics: 3 old-school strategies that still work

I’m willing to bet you’re already confused, and images of Tina Fey in the 2003 SNL skit are dancing through your head.

Or you very well could be reading this while your rib cage rests on the top of your very own pair of mom jeans. Whether your belly button is in close proximity to your pants or not, you’re most likely wondering where I’m going with this.

Fashion works in cycles. Things that were once outdated often come back around slightly reinvented. Mom jeans were at one time considered a major disgrace to denim, and now? Nearly every fashion-forward retailer sells their version of the mom jean.

When something works, it works for a reason, and this same concept applies to sales. Just like the surprisingly edgy comeback of mom jeans, here are some old school sales tactics that are due for a revival. *Hint: They don’t include pleats or appliqué vests.

Foot-in-the-door

This concept is as simple as it sounds. It traces back to a time when door-to-door salesmen would quite literally stick their foot in the door to keep it from being slammed in their faces. As long as the door was open, they had an opportunity to complete their sales pitch.

The idea is if a potential customer complies with an initial, minor request, it tends to pave the way for bigger requests. (See also: Building a “yes” momentum.)

These days, door-to-door sales are all but extinct, but the tactic still proves relevant. It’s all about getting that metaphorical door open. Offering things like a free downloadable e-book, an educational webinar, or even a free trial are simple, no-cost requests that can trigger investment from future customers. The more people you can get to agree to something small, the more people you will get to say yes to something more significant in the future.

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Door-in-the-face

Although this technique just sounds like a more violent version of foot-in-the-door, it’s actually quite the opposite. Here’s the idea: Ask for something big from a customer, and they will likely reject it. Then, follow up with a much more reasonable request, and the people-pleaser that lives in each of us is likely to accept it.

This particular tactic goes back to a 1975 study conducted by Robert Cialdini, but the method still proves applicable today. Using this technique in your own sales efforts could start with asking the customer to commit to a year long subscription, and if the customer passes on that, how about a free 30 minute webinar? Or, if your company offers multiple tiers of your product or service, you could start by pitching the most expensive tier with all the add-ons, and come down from there. (See also: price anchoring) The possibilities are boundless, but the results prove consistent.

Now-or-never

History has proven that nothing inspires buyers more than all-caps and overuse of exclamation points.

  • ACT NOW!!
  • SUPPLY RUNNING OUT!
  • LAST DAY AT THIS PRICE!!!

Ok, well I made that up. It really just sounds like you’re yelling. But if you can communicate urgency (without yelling at potential buyers) your sales will flourish. This tactic has been around even before FOMO was a thing, and for good reason—it really works. By increasing the attractiveness of the item you’re selling, you are able to raise the intensity of a situation so that reluctant customers respond.

Limited quantities and seasonal specials are some ways to leverage this technique, but you can modernize the now-or-never concept even more by finding ways to communicate the unique appeal of what you’re selling. How is your product or service head-and-shoulders above your competitors’? How much money (or time) are your prospects losing by going every day without your solution?

“Mom jean” sales tactics have come back around because of psychological principles that are virtually universal. (And gosh darn it, they’re comfortable!) While the original context of these sales tactics may be long gone, human behavior has remained the same, so don’t be afraid to pull a classic out of your closet once in a while.

Which old-school sales techniques are you currently utilizing? Tweet ’em to us @nutshell, or start a conversation in our Sell to Win Facebook group!

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