At times, it feels as though we’re half stuck in the late 1970s. Even in today’s digital age of profitable, effective marketing, the methods and assumptions we stick with for selling to our leads are a throwback to the era when disco and bell-bottom pants seemed like good ideas.
In the last week alone, I have witnessed:
- A software seller using the “puppy dog close”
- A cold email from Singapore to my office claiming “you requested information” that I clearly did not
- Financial sellers trying to build rapport with a prospect and being told “I gave that information to your inside salesperson last week!” as a response
- A senior seller admitting to his manager that he would have to get his wife to show him how to use social media
- A manager calling me in frustration because his team won’t use their customer relationship management (CRM) solution
This has to change.
Today’s marketing programs provide sales departments with an overflowing bounty of insights on buyer behavior, high-quality leads, and quick-changing market trends. And yet far too many sellers squander this power. They pair all that knowledge with a completely outdated way of managing prospects and interacting with our customers: selling to them, rather than working with them.
Look at the facts: My research shows that sales closing ratios today are stagnating at 33%. A client this week (one with a highly advanced marketing department) admitted their closing rate was 25%. That’s in spite of widespread research showing that buyers are now well on their way through the sales cycle before a salesperson is even contacted. That’s also in spite of modern methods of marketing and automation that are running 24/7 to keep sales pipelines filled to the brim with prequalified buyers. What’s happening to all these quality leads?
Sales ratios haven’t improved because sales leaders keep telling themselves that this is just the way selling is done, rather than seeing it for what it is: a problem that’s in need of fixing.
It’s time to start demanding less disco in your sales force. Here’s how you can do something about that.