7 Outdated Sales Tactics to Abandon in The New Decade
If you’ve been in sales for a while, you might find yourself sticking to what you know and what feels comfortable. Whether it’s a tried-and-tested technique or a proposal template you use on repeat, the prospect of trying something new and innovative can be daunting.
And you’re not alone. Up to six in 10 salespeople admit sticking to what’s familiar, without a willingness to explore or change techniques. While this doesn’t make you an inherently bad salesperson, it can affect your success and ability to generate leads online.
We live in an increasingly digitized world, and as tech continues to evolve, so will buying habits and your customer’s expectations. Gone are the days of product showrooms and the hard sell; the keys to boosting sales in 2021 are the human touch and personalization.
Customers are savvier than they used to be and have a wider range of options and information at their fingertips. They aren’t just looking for a product or service; they’re looking at which companies value them the most.
This boils down to tailoring your sales technique to consumers and doing your research. Evolutions in tech mean potential customers are bombarded with adverts daily, so you need to separate yourself from the crowd to ensure you’re not filtered out.
Relying on the same, old-school sales techniques will only damage the overall success of your strategy. Becoming more flexible with your sales approach, on the other hand, will open new avenues and the potential for increased revenue.
It’s about focusing on sales tactics that factor in personalization and create relationships. Instead of bulldozing your clients with pitches, calls, and demands, incorporate a human touch. If you don’t, you run the risk of breaking trust and damaging the relationship.
As we move into 2021, it’s clear that tech will play an important role in the future of sales, helping us work smarter rather than harder. Knowing when to let go of an outdated sales tactic to embrace technology and automation is key to becoming a better salesperson.
To help you, we’ve compiled a list of seven outdated sales tactics to abandon in the new decade.
1. COLD CALLING
Back in the 60s, cold calling was one of the most popular and widely used sales tactics. While it only really gained momentum in the 70s and 80s, this old-school method dates back to 1873, with John Patterson being the first to document it.
But times have changed, and the claim of adding $50,000 to your annual income with cold calling no longer sounds inspiring; it sounds outlandish.
Technology has evolved hugely since the 60s. Customers have become empowered to do their own research on what kinds of products they want and what kinds of companies they’re willing to do business with.
The lack of information and tech available in the 70s and 80s made cold calling a viable option, but that’s no longer the case. Customers value their time and don’t appreciate countless calls from numbers they don’t recognize.
The very idea of cold-calling is based on generating sales from cold leads. This is why it’s outdated. With all the data analysis tools available, companies are able to understand who their audience is and target them specifically, meaning they can focus on warm leads. There’s no need to make cold calls anymore; they simply waste time and money.
This doesn’t mean you should abandon calls altogether; it just means you need to refocus your attention on targeting warm leads – the people most likely to buy from you.
When making these calls, otherwise known as warm calls, consider installing CTI software for better agent and customer experience. Not only will this enable you to monitor your live-call agents, but it will make it easier for your workforce to interact with your company’s phone system.
Simply put, making sales calls to a niche, hyper-targeted audience of people rather than cold leads means you’ll be more likely to generate sales and increase customer retention levels.
2. COLD PITCHING
If you find yourself reaching out to strangers on LinkedIn, email, or any other platform, chances are you’re cold pitching. Similar to cold calling, cold pitching is the process of reaching out to cold leads and pitching your sales to them.
While pitching to strangers isn’t the biggest problem here, you should aim to use your data analysis tools to get a better understanding of who your target audience is. That way you can pitch to warm leads i.e. people who are more likely to have an interest in what you’re selling.
What you need to abandon is going in for the kill immediately. Even if you stay away from cold leads and stick to warm pitching, all your hard work will be for nothing if you open the conversation with your pitch. This kills any kind of relationship you want to develop and will probably result in you being left on ‘read’.
Customers value their time and need to have built trust to make a purchase. This is why building a relationship with your leads is so important; it develops trust between you and the consumer.
Sending a LinkedIn message that opens with your pitch positions you as a money-hungry and desperate salesperson. If you sell products online, it’s about creating a personalized eCommerce experience to help convert leads into paying customers, and this stems from building a strong relationship.
Building a secure relationship starts with the first message you send, so forget about your pitch during the initial conversation. Focus on developing trust and sparking insightful interaction – ask about their company or comment on the recent post they shared.
Even once you get to the stage of delivering your pitch, make it interesting and targeted to your lead. Use storytelling techniques and insightful questions to understand their needs so you can position your pitch better.
3. MANUAL ADMIN WORK
As a sales rep, your time is split between selling and performing your daily admin tasks. While some things have to be done manually, such as talking to clients over the phone or drafting personalized pitches and proposals, there are a lot of tasks that can be automated. These include sending emails, data entry, prospecting leads, scheduling calls and meetings, and so on.
While this isn’t necessarily a sales tactic, embracing automation will free up time so you can focus more on selling and building a relationship with your leads. Make the most of your company’s online business software to automate manual tasks that are eating up your day.
And remember, even though sending emails can be automated, it’s key that you continue to deliver personalized emails that you took the time to draft.
Whether you’re an executive or salesperson, you’re both looking to level up your business strategy to generate more leads and revenue, so if your company hasn’t already got an automated call system in place, consider bringing up the idea of interactive voice response system software.
Installing IVF software (e.g. Vonage alternatives) will cut the time that leads spend on the phone asking questions and direct them to the right department depending on their needs.
4. RELYING ON THE PRODUCT DEMONSTRATION TO CLOSE A DEAL
Product demonstrations were all the rage in the 80s. The boardroom demo was where the lead could get the information they needed. But that was more than three decades ago and times have changed. The expansion of the internet has meant leads already have access to the information they require, so showing up to in-person product demos no longer makes sense.
While product demos don’t have to be abandoned completely, consider making the most of the internet and performing them online. This way, leads won’t have to take too much time out of their busy schedules to attend.
This is especially true for overseas clients, and the pandemic has already shown us the success of virtual meetings and remote work, so don’t be afraid to veer towards a more remote sales strategy.
It’s key to remember that your product demo isn’t the be-all and end-all to your success when pitching. Thanks to increasing competition, it’s unlikely you’re selling a product that no other companies are selling, so you must separate yourself from the crowd in other ways.
Nowadays, leads don’t only care about the product or service you’re selling; they care about your company culture and values and the problems your product can solve. So, don’t hinge your close on the product demo; pay attention to every stage of the sales cycle to ensure a successful crescendo.
5. ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL PITCHES
If you take anything away, let it be this: pitches should never be approached as a one-size-fits-all strategy. Customers value personalization and are more empowered to do their own research on companies before making purchases. A generic pitch doesn’t work for this reason: it ignores the fact that each customer is special and has their own needs.
It’s about shifting your focus from the product to the lead, concentrating on how it will better their lives and solve their problems. This means you might need to do a bit more research, but it’s worth it in the end; leads are more likely to purchase once they see how the product will benefit them specifically.
Otherwise known as consultative selling, putting your lead at the heart of your pitch increases your chances of success. It’s about becoming more flexible in how you deal with individuals, tweaking parts of the pitch to better suit their unique and evolving demands.
6. OVERLOOKING SOCIAL MEDIA AS A SALES STRATEGY
While you might be using social media to promote your business and products, are you using it to generate new leads? If not, you’re not making the most of what it has to offer.
If you’re not on some of the more popular platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram, then this is a problem that needs solving immediately. So many of your customers use these that the chance of outreach is greater, enabling you to convert your Instagram followers to customers and gain more revenue.
Once you’ve built a presence on social media, it’s key you don’t just promote your business but interact with users too. All your followers are potential warm leads that could be converted into paying customers if you spend enough time nurturing the relationship.
This means regularly updating your content and feed, posting photos, and getting your followers involved with your platforms. Consider hosting giveaways and competitions to increase interaction and build trust, as well as taking the time to respond to comments and messages.
7. PUSHING YOUR LEADS
At this point, it should be clear that customers value personalization and expect companies to appreciate their time. While it might have been more common to lean on leads previously, it’s never been a smart move. Customers in the past were the same as their present-day counterparts; both found/find it annoying if pushed to make a decision fast.
The key to decrease churn rates and boost sales is to build a strong client relationship that acknowledges boundaries. This means steering clear of sending too many emails or inundating them with offers and advertisements. They’re already over-exposed to marketing so you don’t want to become a nuisance that they filter out.
While it’s important to hit sales targets, it’s also important to remember your leads are human and have their own problems to deal with. Instead of being pushy and killing the relationship, approach it with more flexibility.
Set a boundary for the number of calls and emails you’ll make a month and don’t overstep the mark. If you can sense a lead needs space, be upfront and ask if they’d like some time to concentrate on their own life before getting back to you.
It’s important to take some time out for yourself away from sales targets too. Though hitting them might be your top priority, it shouldn’t be the focus of all your efforts or you risk burnout. Consider installing a few productivity apps or practicing mindfulness techniques to refresh and reset.
Some of our most loved and trusted sales techniques aren’t doing us justice anymore. While you don’t have to abandon tactics such as calling altogether, to be successful, flexibility is key.
It’s similar to the idea of creating faxes; it’s an old-school method but one that people still use successfully today. It’s simply been renovated to suit the digital age, in the same way that sending a fax from a computer has become the new norm.
The sales process has changed a lot since the heyday of door-to-door sales and cold calling in the 70s and 80s. Customers now value their time and have more information at their fingertips thanks to the expansion of the internet and tech.
To truly stand out from the crowd and all the advertisements that are around, it’s crucial you evolve and update your sales tactics, knowing when it’s time to abandon outdated strategies.
In short, sales is a continually evolving and complicated process from the start of the supply chain operation to the final pitch. It’s about focusing on personalization and building a secure and trusting relationship with your leads to convert more of them into paying customers.
Victorio Duran III – RingCentral US
Victorio is the Associate SEO Director at RingCentral, a global leader in cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions. He has over 13 years of extensive involvement in web and digital operations with diverse experience as a web engineer, product manager, and digital marketing strategist.
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