Old Sales Tactics

August 14, 2009 by Shirleen Von Hoffmann Leave a reply »

marketing sign guy What are some of the old sales tactics still being used

that don’t work, in this sales environment?

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4 Responses

  1. Chuck Baldwin says:

    I love this topic… a lot of my competition, co-workers, and even upper managment don’t know what year it is…they’re stuck in 1979. Here are some of the signs…

    1) SHOW UP AND THROW UP: Walk into a meeting, sales call, presentation, cold call and hit the “Play” button for your mouth. What ensues is non-stop babble about how great your product or service is, your company and how long you’ve been in business, blah, blah, blah. By the way, when this happens, your ears no longer work for some reason and you are no longer able to hear. Another possible name for this type of rep could be Spray and Pray. (Actually, all the following points below can be filed under Show Up and Throw Up.)

    2) PRICE, PRICE, PRICE: Any monkey can sell on price and price alone. Lead on price, lose on price. I think this method is for lazy sales people who don’t want to put forth any effort in actually trying to understand what their customer’s needs are. Why? This would require them to hit the “Pause” button on thier mouth.

    3) PRODUCT-HOLIC: This could also be filed under #1. Sales reps who know their product or service forwards and backwards. They know every last detail and could recite the features and benefits in their sleep. Unfortunately, they have no idea what the customer even needs because (going back to #1) they never asked. Wow there’s a novel concept. These type of reps recite their pitch over and over again hoping that one of their darts will stick to the wall. Many of these type of reps can be found as MFG Reps.

    4) GOOD ‘OL BOY NETWORK: These are the reps who try to buy thier business. They have big expense accounts and use this for lavish dinners, lunches, ball tickets, gifts, etc. This may work once, twice, maybe for a while..but eventually you will lose the sale to another sales rep who is acutally providing solutions to the customer’s needs. There’s also a lot of back-slapping as you discuss the weather, last night’s sporting event, fishing, your favorite TV show, etc.

    I once had a co-worker who said in a sales meeting amongst her peers that one of the reasons for her success was due to her buying doughnuts every morning for certain accounts. She actually said, “It’s all about the doughnuts.”

    Posted by Chuck Baldwin

    Troy Davis
    President at The Sales Association
    In my experience, not only are you percieved by your customer as little to no value, but you’ll still get under-sold by the next company that comes along offering the same product /service for a dollar cheaper.

    John Goodman (jdgoodman@dslextreme.com)
    Technical and Execuive Recruiting
    I was taught to first sell yourself, then your company and then your product. It’s amazing how many “salespeople” immediately pitch a product without doing the first two components and without knowing anything about the client, their needs and/or wants.

    Rob Hill
    Commercial Lines Account Executive at Hub International
    Lowest price selling and selling to the client without thinking of the current provider. You don’t just sell yourself and product… You sell the way to break the current sales relationship.

    Joanne Black
    Professional Sales Speaker

    Sales people are still cold calling, and cold calling has increased in a down economy. Really short-sighted.

    The most effective sales prospecting occurs when a salesperson practices referral selling. When we’re referred, we are pre-sold, build credibility and trust, shorten our sales process, ace out the competition, and convert sales prospects to paying clients well over 50 percent of the time.

    No other sales “technique” comes close to referral results.

    Tony Smith
    Sales Performance Consultant and Executive Coach
    In my opinion it’s the failure to understand that in today’s market it’s no longer about how the salesperson wants to sell but instead the focus should be on how the buyer wants to buy. Failure to align one’s sales process with the buyer’s process is the biggest difference in today’s new selling paradigms. This is why trusted advisor status and positioning is so important for every salesperson. Buyers love to buy but hate to be sold to! Focus solely on their wants and needs. But of all things, the most outdated techinique is the ABC method of Always Be Closing!

    Derek Kottke
    Enterprise Software Sales Executive
    The one that comes to mind is the drop in cold calling. At a previous company our VP of Sales (he had been at the company since the 70’s and said that worked back then) determined this was the way to go. We sold a complex product with a lengthy sales cycle; the only statistic they measured was how many drop in cold calls were done each day. In the year this went on, I don’t think anyone ever closed a deal due to a drop in cold call. Prospects hated it, as they were very busy, and didn’t like the interruption. Sales people hated it, as we had large territories, and not alot of prospects. You spent all week trying to hit your goal of 20 onsite cold calls, instead of being productive in other ways.

    Mike Maturen
    Independent Manufacturer’s Representative at Michael
    I find it hard to swallow the old-style “mechanical” selling process, as taught by Tom Hopkins, et-al. I have always found that style to be manipulative…and often leads to buyer’s remorse when they realize they have “been sold”.

    Rather, I prefer the more consultative style of selling, which puts the clients needs before my own. I don’t pick a product and then sell it no matter what, I pick a product based on what my client tells me they need. In the long run, it helps to establish and maintain long-term relationships, leads to more referrals, and a much higher level of satisfaction…both for my clients AND for me.

    Michael Norton
    CEO at CanDoGo
    Great question and some awesome replies. Having spent the better part of the last 20 plus years reading and researching sales books, attending sales seminars, and being in the field with sales reps from so many different industries my input here would be that yes there are some very tired techniques out there as already mentioned in other comments. However, I love the saying “It’s not what’s new that works, rather, it is what works that works!” Based on the product, the industry, the price point, length of sales cycle, etc., and then even within those parameters you still have the unique personality of the buyer who may very well enjoy or actually need the sales rep to deploy some of those old yet proven strategies and techniques in order to bring both parties to closure. Conclusion: There is no one size fits all and the true sales champion should have an arsenal (Old and New) deep enough to draw upon any and all practices to win the business, and as Tony pointed out, make it as easy for the buyer to buy.

    Marshall W. Northcott
    Linked In Group Manager at Consultative Sales and Sales Management Professionals of Canada
    Attempting to talk a customer or prospect into submission has got to be the absolute worst old school approach to selling that is still practiced today! It might be acceptable in a low end retail setting or at the flea market however, it just doesn’t fly in the corporate world!

    There is a great lack of sophistication in many sales organizations. Learning, implementing, practicing and mastering the skills of professional consultative selling is a must.

    “Telling is not selling.” or as my mentor said, “God gave you two ears and one mouth, use them in correct proportion.”

    John Feeney
    Experienced Marketing Visionary
    TSelling on price does nothing for long term growth for any company. – putting the needs of the client in front of yours is Key.
    The worst Sales Technique still in use – not listening

    Rob Hill
    Commercial Lines Account Executive at Hub International

    The lowest price also obtains clients for the company that will not be loyal and will probably cost more to keep than you make off them… there are still a ton of reps that sell price first and taint the whole market.

    When lowest price comes up..I always ask my cleints if they allow thier sales people to reduce thier margins just to make a sale… or are they there to make money and supply a service. i go with the ones that answer yes to the second

    Simon Harrop
    Consultant and coach
    Many sales people are still assuming what a customer does and needs without any research or planning for a sales call. They are relying on the personality and persistence to wear the customer down. There are many great resources available now to allow you to find out so much information about your client, before you even meet them.

    John Feeney
    Experienced Marketing Visionary
    I continually hear the company is responsible for “providing” qualified leads (lay-downs) and push blame on the “Lead” source for not producing a result.

    To me, its sad. However knowing those around me are that lazy just opens the door too opportunity.

    Joanne Black
    Professional Sales Speaker
    Rob has a great point. If a client views us as a commodity–even after we show ROI, we need to walk away. The client won’t get results. No one wins.

    Todd Bagley
    CEO for Keytro.com … .
    Do you think it might be more effective (and less risk of being insulting) if the seller asks the prospect the purchase decision is being driven by a desire for the lowest “spend” or “cost”?

    Essentially, this is the same question you exampled. However, it may be too academic, as your approach communicates easier.

    Or do you find that being “snippy” helps make that particular question work better for you?

    Mark A. Mauro
    Director of Sales, Quatrio
    Excellent discussion. I have enjoyed many of the answers. Tony and Derek both hit on some great points.

    My take: Attempting to pressure a customer to purchase on your timelines, rather than understanding their’s, is one of the worst techniques still applied today. Even though you may feel pressured to hit a quota number on a monthly or quarterly basis, the overall goal is build a relationship that will account for multiple purchases and/or referrals. Time forced sales usually become one-time sales.

    Todd Bagley
    CEO for Keytro.com
    What a great point… putting your feet to the fire a bit (smile) how do you deal with your direct reports who don’t make their numbers because the client wants to book the sale in another period?

    Do you rely on the comp plan to motivate the best outcome? or apply pressure and force the rep to decide if he wants to play the buffer?

    My sense is managers can be less forgiving re: these sorts of situations, especially in larger organizations.

    Anxious to hear your thoughts…

    Mark A. Mauro
    Director of Sales, Quatrio
    If is is a consistent occurance, then it is probably a sign that the sales person needs to go deeper in the qualification stage to understand all decision makers and potential roadblocks or factors to completing the deal within a specific timeframe. If this is done professionally with the customer, then it should not appear as pushy or uncomfortable.
    Candidly, in some instances, even with this information, timelines do not always hit the target, especially in today’s economic climate. That said, two key areas of coaching come to mind:

    1) Ensure that all of their eggs aren’t being put in this one basket ( in the event that the deal is held up further or possibly falls through); they should have other potential opps to fall back on.
    2) Recognizing red flags that could signal there never will be a sale and that the delay is actually an “avoid tactic” meaning “no thanks”.

  2. Michael Costello says:

    So here is the hard part, what works for some does not work for others. So blanket dismissal of any old tactic could work against some sales people. It all depends on the audience, so to say any one can sell price, is incorrect just on its own. I agree that there should be much more to it than that, but in some buisnesses and infact at times price is the only thing. Why else to car companies offer end of year sales, it works for Nordstrom’s too at the 1/2 yearly sale. The difference is they have earned the right to lead with price.

    What I don’t works is not an old tactic at all, it is a fairly new one and that is trying to be a trend sales person. What’s the new buzz phrase some marketing person or people have come up with. Remember when people coming into your business and they were called customers, now in many companies they are prospects, or guest, visitors, lead bank, and too many more. Who cares, they are a potential BUYER isn’t that all that matters? Build a rapport, earn their trust and respect, do your job. We try to complicate this process. Enjoy it, nothing better than selling something, anything.

  3. Mike, thanks for the comment.

    How about this; what works in a hot market doesn’t necessarily work in a soft market… So you have to switch up your game or what worked in the sixties doesn’t necessarily work with buyers today… So you have to switch up your game. Because even in sales, things change and some of the old school sales tactics as mentioned in the post above, don’t work anymore and you creep people out when you use them.

    I do agree with you on this…Sales is the most awesome career one could master!

  4. Aw, this was a very nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a very good article… but what can
    I say… I put things off a whole lot and don’t manage to get anything done.

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