There’s a lot of luxury in nostalgia: think Mad Men era offices, the wardrobe, the whiskey at noon to celebrate a sale. But often, nostalgia is less useful when we put it into practice. For example, every sales pitch in Mad Men happened in person, and when Pete had a client in Detroit, he had to move there for them. In-person meetings and re-locating team members are expensive and with today’s video calls and instant chat they just don’t make sense. In fact, a lot of the ways we used to sell products and services just don’t make sense anymore. To run a 21st-century sales machine, you have to think of the future. Maybe the whiskey to celebrate a big sale can stay, just in moderation so that you can keep focused on the sales ahead.
STOP: Wasting your team’s time with prospecting calls
Your team is trained and experienced to answer detailed questions about your product and close deals, which is why you shouldn’t be putting them to call prospects that haven’t been qualified beforehand. According to Aaron Ross, co-author of Predictable Revenue, sales people shouldn’t be spending their time prospecting because it contributes to a lack of motivation, lack of focus and lack of proper training. Additionally, when your salespeople are doing everything you’ll have unclear metrics and you’ll be unable to clearly see where your team is having trouble.
Instead: Divide and conquer!
Use a mix of both inbound and outbound lead generation to weed out uninterested people and hone in on folks who want to speak with you. When using inbound, this will look like creating content that draws in your audiences with valuable information. You can create blogs to give your audience ideas about their pain points and possible solutions, and you can create more in-depth content offers like ebooks and whitepapers to help them further along. If you do this, you can gather information about interested prospects, and when you reach out, they’ll be familiar with you and much more willing to listen to your propositions. When using outbound, divide your sales reps into prospectors and closers. If you don’t have the people-power to do so, use a sales platform like VOIQ to outsource your prospecting calls. If you make these calls friendly, discovery calls the people on the other end of the line be more engaged with your call. You can easily outsource these calls because the sales agents won’t be closing or giving any in-depth information - very simply, it’s a quick call to gauge interest. One that both the on-demand agent and the prospect can handle with significantly more ease and fluidity vs. the traditional prospecting call. After you have your warm leads or scheduled appointments, your trained closers will have more time to close interested leads, which means more sales.
STOP: Pushing your leads to buy
Maybe it’s because we’re tired of being bombarded with offers everywhere, or maybe we’ve become accustomed to proactively looking for what we want, but in 2016 we just can’t deal with pushy salespeople. The reason is simple: it’s uncomfortable, and we’re such creatures of comfort that taking us out of that zone will put us on the defensive instead of opening us up to new ideas. On the other, you could be pushing people into something they don’t want and your churn rates will be through the roof. There’s no point in selling something and onboarding a new customer just to have them drop out at point-of-sale or shortly after. This makes your organization look bad, and it’s not effective. For these reasons, you need to stop being pushy to sell your products or services.
Instead: become a trusted advisor
When you become a trusted advisor you listen more than you talk, you try to find solutions that work for your leads, and you’ll find yourself with a happy new client who trusts you and your company. An important part of becoming a trusted advisor is establishing that trust. Businesses today earn their leads’ trust by providing value to them in the form of content or consultation. For example, if you’re selling a software product, you’ll want to advise prospects with a blog that they can go to when they need advice or help to solve a problem. When you’re in contact with them via email or phone call, you’ll want to act as a consultant, even if you don’t have their business yet. This doesn’t mean that you stop selling! But rather than push your product onto an unsuspecting lead, listen to your lead’s problem and offer solutions based on what your product can provide. If you’re confident that your product is worth the price, you can even suggest other services or products that are similar to yours and which will highlight the value add of your product.
STOP: selling what you don’t have
It used to be that a sales cycle would last months. There’d be multiple in-person meetings, a big theatrical demo or proposal, maybe a game or two of golf and a steak dinner tossed in for good measure. This took a lot of time and salespeople would take advantage of this by selling things they didn’t have, knowing that by the time the deal closed, those little details would be forgotten. Not only is this shady/unethical, but it also shows a weakness in your product if you have to exaggerate to sell it. Secondly, like pushing someone to buy your product, selling what you don’t have leaves people with a bad taste in their mouths. They’ll be more likely to steer people away from doing business with you, and your reputation will take a hard hit. Finally, sales cycles are a few days long now. If you sell what you don’t have, you won’t have the cover of time to soften the blow of the truth. In 2016, selling this way won’t do you any favors at all.
Instead: It seems like a no-brainer, but be honest
If you’ve gained a lead’s trust, maintain it with honesty. If your product can’t do what they need, offer suggestions on how they can use it for something similar or better. If your lead is bent on doing one thing, say creating data reports in one program, show them the benefits of doing it a different way using your service. Keep track of features and wishlists that you’re often asked about because if it’s recurring it’s worth passing on that feedback to your product team to develop solutions based on your audience’s needs and wants. Get to know your product in the way it was intended to be used and the ways that you can hack it so that you can offer the best advice on how to use it and how your prospective clients can benefit from it. And don’t forget to listen! If you hone your listening skills, you’ll be able to understand your leads’ pain points and be able to find a way that your product can solve their problems. It’s much better this way.
Nostalgia is beautiful; we won’t deny it. But living in the past is detrimental to your sales. You can keep the fancy suits, the whiskey in moderation and the intense dedication to your projects, but it’s imperative that you leave behind ineffective practices like wasting your trained team’s talents on prospecting calls, uncomfortable pushing, and over promising what you don’t have. Instead, we recommend outsourcing your prospecting calls and making them friendly, discovery calls. When you have warm leads, it’ll be more efficient to use your trained closers to bring the deal home. Instead of pushing, become a trusted advisor to your leads and you’ll notice that they will feel much better about doing business with you and will be more likely to recommend you to their networks. Finally, be honest! If your product is good and you’re a great salesperson, you won’t need to sell something you don't have. If a particular feature is frequently requested, pass on that feedback to Product so they can brainstorm if it’s feasible. Sell this way and you'll be on the road to exceeding quota in a way you can be proud of.