The state of sales has completely evolved. Old sales strategies no longer work, and any salesperson using traditional tactics likely can’t compete with the modern sales leaders who’ve adopted new methods. Exactly what sales tactics aren’t working anymore, and what should we replace them with?
Jonathan Lister knows a thing or two about social selling. As Vice President of Sales with LinkedIn Sales Solutions and Country Manger of the Canadian division, he recently addressed a workshop audience to explain this shifting trend in sales. Technology has obviously brought forward new ways of engaging with brands, while customers are also interacting differently with their company contacts – resulting in conventional sales teams losing deals.
What can sales teams do to catch up?
As expected, Lister points to the pivotal role of social media for part of the answer. But there is more to the story, as LinkedIn analyzed the results of their “Global State of Sales Survey” and found out exactly why top sales reps were performing so well.
What isn’t working:
These three traditional sales tactics are no longer working. Here’s why you should stop doing them right now to improve your sales playbook.
1. Call high up the ladder
You’ve likely learned that it’s important to talk to a C-suite contact and build a relationship with the top person in a company. Not anymore.
Lister explained that most sales people have to make contact with six to eight decision-makers per deal. Further, 58% decisions are made outside the C-suite.
“If you’re just talking to the C-suite, you’re eliminating at least five people from that sales cycle,” Lister explained. Nowadays, the C-suite isn’t as influential in the sales process. They’re letting their teams take a more active role in the decision-making, and if you’re only focusing on the top dogs, you’re putting too much attention into the wrong relationship building.
2. Lead with great questions
The discovery process, including probing with thoughtful questions, has always been an important sales tactic. Many sales pros have been taught to reach out to a prospect and make a compelling statement to capture their interest.
The problem is that buyers and decision-makers have also been sharpening their skills, including how to recognize sales tactics and then avoid them altogether. So if you’re calling to ask someone to move services or buy a new product, chances are that this savvy prospect will have a rebuttal ready.
“Most buyers think that sales reps aren’t credible anyway,” Lister explains. And simply asking probing questions may only reinforce the idea that sales reps aren’t in touch with the way to connect with prospects.
3. Touch 7 times
Sales pros know that one touch point isn’t enough. That’s where the seven touch point rule stepped in – the theory being that you’ll need at least seven points of contact to close a deal. But that could waste time, resources and shift focus to the wrong part of the sale.
If sales pros are reaching out to their prospects just to get the touch points in, they’re wasting their time. “Reaching out without something meaningful to say is detrimental to the sales cycle,” cautions Lister, who added that a genuine point of contact has been a key component of relationship building with top sales pros.
Unfortunately, the focus for many sales teams has been about hitting the seven touch points — no matter how beneficial those activities were in pushing the sales opportunity to the next level.
What is working:
The good news – the traditional strategy can now be replaced by a set of more modern set of sales tactics.