7 old school sales tactics that don’t work anymore

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Contributor, Sell to Win

We all know that change is a part of life, and we have to adapt to these changes in order to find success.

So why do so many sellers insist on using old school sales tactics that no longer work? If it’s because they simply don’t know any better, we’re here to enlighten them! Keep reading to learn seven old school sales tactics to avoid in 2020 and beyond.

1. Seeking the Sale at All Costs

If you’re willing to do or say anything to make a sale, including selling a prospect a product they don’t need, you’ll run into problems. Maybe not right away. But eventually, this tactic will catch up with you and cause your company major issues.

What kind of issues? You’ll probably have a lower close rate and many of the sales you do make will likely get returned by unhappy customers. Both of these things are bad for your individual productivity and the reputation of your company as a whole.

The best thing salespeople can do in 2020 and beyond is sell with integrity.

Mike Lieberman, the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist of Square2 agrees. He says, “When you only sell what the client needs, you’ll gain trust and credibility…This will lead to long-lasting relationships that will benefit your business more in the long term.”

2. Pitching Products Instead of Solutions

Here’s the truth: your prospects don’t care about the products or services you sell. The only thing they care about is whether or not you can help them solve their problems. If you can, they’ll be more than happy to buy from you. If you can’t, well…sales is a tough racket.

Modern consumers are exposed to thousands of marketing and sales messages on a daily basis. Because of this, they’ve become numb to old school product pitches.

So instead of pitching your product to anyone with a pulse, seek to understand your target audience and their pain points. Then present your product or service as the solution to the pain. You’ll have much better results with this approach, guaranteed.

The best sellers in 2020 are those that ask the right questions and position their offerings as relevant alternatives to the challenges their leads face.

Related: “Ditch the pitch”: How to create a prospecting experience that’s worth your buyers’ time

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3. Overselling Products and Services

Have you ever been sold a product that didn’t live up to your expectations? Maybe a crafty salesperson once told you that a specific gizmo or gadget would solve all of your problems. But it didn’t, and now it’s sitting at the back of your closet collecting dust. 

Experiences like these are, unfortunately, quite common.

While you can make sales by overpromising, it’s not advised. For one thing, products that don’t live up to customer expectations are often returned and help to lower the reputation of the company that sells them, which can hurt future sales.

Additionally, prospects today have access to an incredible amount of information. In other words, modern buyers are informed enough to know when you’re lying.

This is why renowned sales expert, Marc Wayshak, says you shouldn’t “spend too much time harping on the features, bells, and whistles of the product or service you’re selling,” because, “prospects no longer rely solely on sales reps to give them that kind of information.”

Instead, speak to your prospects honestly about the value your products and/or services represent and their specific benefits.

4. Turning Up the Pressure

Many old school sellers found success by pressuring their prospects into a purchase. By using aggressive persuasion and manipulation tactics, a talented sales rep could close deals that would have otherwise stalled.

But turning up the pressure in the 21st century is one of the quickest ways to lose a sale.

Your audience doesn’t want to be bullied into buying. Most modern buyers have multiple options available to them. If they don’t enjoy the sales process you provide, they’ll quickly become a patron of a competing brand.

Rather than creating high-pressure situations, look to become a trusted advisor to your prospects as they navigate their way through the buyer’s journey

5. Bombarding Leads With Sales Messages

Speaking of pressure, many sales reps apply it unwittingly by bombarding their leads with sales messages. There’s a fine line between tenacious and overbearing. Multiple emails and calls over a short period of time will likely be viewed poorly by your prospects.

Think about it: Would you want to be contacted multiple times a day by a complete stranger? Probably not. So why do salespeople think that they should take this approach?

Apparently, this old school sales strategy is aimed to annoy leads into submission. If we contact them enough times, eventually they’ll get back to us—even if it’s just to tell us off for the abundance of communication. Then, once we’ve started a conversation, we can pitch our product, turn up the pressure, and walk away with a new sale!

Maybe this technique worked in the past, but it definitely won’t work now. In fact, it will likely ensure your leads never buy from you.

You’ll find more success if you set up a sales cadence that strikes the perfect balance between persistent and respectful. To find this balance, we suggest experimenting with different cadences, analyzing results, and developing a unique approach that works for you and your target audience.

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6. Rushing Prospects Through the Sales Process

As we mentioned, modern sales is about guiding prospects to a specific solution, not bamboozling them into a sale they’ll regret in the morning. Because of this, today’s sellers need to realize that the speed at which they sell should be personalized to each lead.

Some prospects might be ready to whip out their credit cards and make a purchase after a single phone call. Others may take weeks, or even months, to make a commitment.

Old school sales philosophy would have you believe that every sale should be closed as soon as possible. While we can’t deny that “one-call closes” are exhilarating, they aren’t the norm and striving for them at all costs is a mistake.

So take a deep breath. Understand that each lead in your pipeline is unique and uses a different decision-making process. Then focus on providing the best sales experience you can. In time, this strategy will allow you to build a stronger customer base.

7. Pretending That Sales Is a Solo Sport

Finally, old-school sales environments were all about competition. It was a ruthless atmosphere that pitted sales people against each other—often in unhealthy and unproductive ways. But modern sales should be a team sport, not a free-for-all between a collection of “lone wolves.”

Sales managers should encourage cooperation between reps, ensure every person on their team has equal access to resources, and that effective selling strategies are shared with all sellers within their organizations.

This doesn’t mean you should build a competition-free zone for your sales team. According to John Rydell, the President of Network Online, “competition is a great way to motivate your team, as long as it’s friendly, not cutthroat.”

Kiss Your Old-School Sales Tactics Goodbye

Each of the old school sales techniques listed above, while still used by many salespeople in a wide variety of industries, will actually do more harm than good in most scenarios. We encourage you to adopt more modern sales strategies instead.

When you do, you’ll create a better experience for your buyers and a healthier environment for you and your team, which will boost your sales numbers and increase customer retention rates. Good luck!

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