There are certain ways sales reps go about their daily tasks that could be considered old fashioned, even out of date. Other techniques, however, might have been used for just as long but could better be described as “old school.” Being able to spot the difference is the mark of a real pro.
Old school means a way of selling that’s tried and true. Old school is about adhering to a set of standards and not taking shortcuts that might somehow affect the overall quality of the end result. Old school respects the fact that there were people — it could be their sales manager or even their peers — who have been Trailblazers in their own ways and have a lot left to teach them.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can happen in sales departments today that are decidedly not old school. Most reps don’t keep an old-fashioned rolodex or carry around a File-o-Fax of all their key customer information anymore, but resisting or refusing to share it in a CRM like Sales Cloud almost amounts to the same thing. It’s old-fashioned because it means the rest of the team — and the organization as a whole — can’t benefit from more insight about those customers. Worse yet, if the information they store privately is limited primarily to contact details, it means reps that don’t use CRM aren’t really using data strategically to close more deals.
Another decidedly old-fashioned sales tip would be to suggest that you just have to keep cold-calling indefinitely and that eventually, something will happen. Wrong. If you’re continuing to get nowhere on the phone, it’s probably time to rethink your approach to outreach, or your reliance on that particular sales channel.
The same goes for old sales tips about “smooth talking” customers. A little charm may help enliven a conversation, but most customers today want real substance when they’re dealing with a sales professional. That’s why we call them “professionals” in the first place!
Old school sales tips that still make sense aren’t always as easy to pinpoint right away. And particularly if you're a sales rep who has been going through a tough week, month or quarter, you’re bound to have a lot of unsolicited advice coming your way.
As funny as it might sound to offer a set of tips about tips, here are some of the tell-tale signs you’re hearing an oldie but a goodie from a sales pro’s perspective:
Yes, sales was and still is often a matter of crafting the perfect pitch, but that doesn’t happen simply by committing a brochure or other marketing materials about a product to memory. Today, customers can do a lot of their own research about a product before they ever come near a sales rep. That means you need to think more about who that customer is, the environment in which they’ll be using the product and other interests or issues they have. Sales tips that start with the customer at the forefront are a sure bet.
Sometimes selling advice can be self-explanatory and you just have to put it into practice. In other cases, though, you might feel you’ve heard a good tip but will need to follow up with a bit of first-hand research. You might hear a tip that sparks a question you want to bring to your counterparts in marketing, for example, or you want to double-check an issue customers have been coming to the service team about. Maybe, if it’s a tip related to technology, you’ll want to have a conversation with your IT department.
Sales is more of a team sport than ever before, and the members of the team don’t just include your fellow reps. It also includes anyone and everyone who might have an impact on the overall customer journey.
One of the potentially dangerous things about listening to or looking for “tips” of any kind is that the implication that “better” means “faster.”
Sales reps obviously want to close as many deals as possible, of course, but there is hardly a company on the planet that doesn’t recognize how difficult it is to find new customers at all. The cost of acquiring each one can be extremely high in some firms, which means the focus is not only on driving new business but driving more business within existing accounts.
That only happens when the rep puts the time and effort into earning a customers’ trust and respect. Tips that point out how to do this reflect that the “R” in customer relationship management should never be forgotten.
If the next steps in any part of the sales process are going to be unclear to the customer, you’re getting bad advice. Being data-driven as a sales rep is not a matter of simply looking at numbers for the sake of it. Everything you do inside (and outside) of CRM should be helping you make better decisions and, ultimately, meet or exceed your quota.
Being productive is just the beginning. The best old sales tips keep you thinking about ways to move the needle on things that affect the entire business, that help develop your skills and that increase the value you bring to customers.
You know those funny cat videos your relatives post on Facebook, or that hilarious joke that’s been circulating through an email chain with your friends or group text? That content is viral because it’s so entertaining it’s almost impossible to resist sharing it further into your network.
The best old sales tips are very much the same. When you hear them, and especially once they start working, you’ll find yourself eager to pass them on — establishing yourself as the newest expert in old school sales techniques.