Sales is an ever-changing profession. Before the internet became mainstream, customers relied on companies and their sales reps to provide product information. Today, 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before engaging in a sales process offline. What these well-informed prospects want is a very different experience from those of pre-internet times. This means that effective sales practices from back in the day, no longer work with today’s potential customers. Are your sales suffering because you’re still using an old-school approach? Here are the outdated sales techniques you need to ditch to increase your effectiveness in 2019:
- Cold calling
- Selling to everyone
- Leading with a product pitch
- Talking too much
- Waiting to engage leads
- Being overly stiff and formal
- Pushing toward the close
Don’t call a prospect or lead cold. Do your research first to make it a warm call. Know about their industry and company, review the prospect’s social media profile and search them online before you ever communicate with them. This, combined with a strong understanding of how your offering will specifically help them, along with an empathetic approach, will get you much farther than calling them cold.
Selling to everyone
Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole by persuading unqualified leads they need your product or service is a waste of everyone’s time. Do yourself and the prospect a favor and take the time to disqualify those who don’t meet the profile of your ideal potential customer. This allows you to focus your efforts on qualified prospects who would actually benefit from your product or service. Not only does it save time, it prevents you from aggravating someone who might tell their network about your unprofessional behavior and that’s counterproductive in every way.
Leading with a product pitch
In the past business buyers expected and even wanted a product pitch to learn more about a company’s product or service. Today’s well-educated prospects know most everything they need to know about your solution and require a more consultative approach. They need someone to guide them through their decision-making process while providing deeper insights and information to aid them in selecting the best option to meet their goals. So don’t just launch into a product pitch when you first start speaking with a prospective buyer. Instead, focus on gaining an understanding of their present situation and desired end state so you’re prepared to tailor your pitch to each prospect.
Talking too much
When pitching was the norm, it was typical for a sales rep to speak more than the prospect. But, if you plan to get to know your prospect, you need to ask open ended questions to discover their needs, concerns, challenges and goals. Then listen carefully to what they’re saying and how they are saying it. Listening more than you’re speaking will also make your prospect feel they’re being heard. That will increase trust while helping you build the relationship.
Waiting to engage leads
Pre-internet leads might have been mailed in or phoned in and may have been cold before a sales rep could contact them. More recently, it’s been said that leads should be called within 5 minutes to increase conversion rates. And every minute that passes decreases the likelihood of advancing them to a sale. Now, with technologies facilitating the immediate distribution of hot leads, why not call them right away? This provides you with a huge advantage over your competitors.
Being overly stiff and formal
In the past, reps were told to act “business-like.” While this still holds true, the definition of this demeanor has changed. It used to be more stiff and formal. Behaving in this manner only makes prospects behave in the same way. Today you still need to act professional, but let your personality shine through. Finding a balance between business-like and casual is usually best. It puts prospects at ease and encourages them to open up. They’re more willing to discuss their issues, needs and goals, enabling you to develop a solution they’ll love.
Pushing toward the close
It was common for sales reps in the past to actively try to accelerate deals to close as quickly as possible. Of course you still want to make every effort to keep them moving through the funnel, but not at the expense of customer satisfaction. Make sure that your prospects have all the information they need to make an educated decision so there are no surprises. And, following your sales process instead of skipping steps will help you accomplish this. Doing so will result in a win-win – a long-term happy customer and minimal customer churn.
Watch out for these outdated sales techniques and update them to increase your effectiveness in 2019. Are there any other ones that you’re planning to eliminate? Tell us in the comments.