Do Classic Sales Methods Still Work?

Do Classic Sales Methods Still Work?Do classic sales methods still work? I have to admit, I was all ready to get uppity about this article because of its title. Turned out, though, author Gregg Schwartz of lead generation firm Strategic Sales & Marketing, Inc., had something different in mind than what I was thinking.

My error was assuming that when asking "Do classic sales methods still work?" Schwartz was going to wax on about the effectiveness of features and benefits selling--pushy, machine-gun selling that doesn't care whether your solution is best for your prospect or not; selling that just tries to knock them over and make them buy. I've already said what I wanted to say about these tactics. If you follow me, you know we're not interested in fooling anyone into buying from us. We want best fit, not any sale. That the "I'll take anyone" approach simply leads to too much trouble. But Gregg surprised me in this article.

The "Death" of Classic Sales Methods?

First, he aims at cold calling. Is this proven sales method--what I would call a prospecting method, actually--"dead"? Companies mighty and tiny are continuing to use phone prospecting. This method continues to work. So no, cold calling is not dead. Why, then, are so many people uncomfortable with it? Because they have not been trained on how to effectively make prospecting calls. They even begin with the wrong outcome in mind: desperate to make a sale off this very attempt! No one has educated them on what to expect. What needs to happen for a call to begin well...which leads to a good qualifying conversation. So with the wrong goal in mind and no skills to achieve it, is it any surprise that people feel uncomfortable when the results don't turn out as expected?

Second, Schwartz points out how some "experts" have exclaimed solution selling is also dead. That buyers can now educate themselves with the information available online, and come to a decision without the help of salespeople. This leads straight into Gregg's third question: do we need salespeople at all, anymore?

Of course we do. Despite all the available information online, that data is not complete, exhaustive nor tailored to a prospect's individual situation. The prospect is not the expert. The prospect is not qualified to know whether this solution is the best fit for them or not. That is the role of the salesperson. To probe, to agitate if necessary, to be a matchmaker. A good salesperson is likely to uncover hidden issues in the prospect's world, and potentially add much greater value than the prospect could by buying as if from a cafeteria.

Do Classic Sales Methods Still Work from the Buyer's Perspective?

From the other side's perspective, sales expert Troy Harrison shared his experience as a car buyer. Now this is an interesting example, because car buying really has descended into the realm of commodity purchases. What's the real difference between Harrison buying his 1996 Impala SS from one dealership versus another? The dealer salesperson is going to have to demonstrate some things, like an understanding of Harrison's situation, to attract Troy into feeling comfortable buying from that source. Yet the dealerships Troy emailed wouldn't even answer his questions; they simply invited him in for a test drive.

Look and act like a commodity salesperson, and you will be treated like a commodity salesperson. Don't complain when prospects don't appreciate you when you behave this way.

Harrison invited salespeople to have a dialogue with him about specific questions (that's "pain") he had...and they one and all refused to do it!

How stupid is that?

So don't tell me "Today's sales teams have been trained and know the latest methodologies"; the evidence on the street shows exactly what the CSO Insights Report showed...nearly all salespeople don't have a clue what they're doing.

>> Jason Kanigan is a sales force developer. Is there someone you know who would learn from reading this? Please Share! Do you have a question about sales methods? Comment below to let us know! Did you appreciate this write-up? Like us on Facebook with the button on the right! And keep up with the latest posts by following us on Twitter or subscribing.<<


The Death of “Closing Techniques”?

closing techniquesThe Ben Franklin.

The Alternate Advance.

The Puppy Dog.

All closing techniques.

All still valid?

Let's look at three things of note about these closes. First of all, prospects are "on" to them. These closing techniques have been around a very long time, and buyers have seen them many times. So even though their faces may not show it, they know what you're doing.

Second, are you really going to memorize the literally hundreds of these closing techniques--and remember the precise one to bring out for your current situation?

Third, do they actually work? Seriously. I strongly suspect you would have made the sale anyway, regardless of the exact closing technique you used.

Some Key Thoughts On Closing Techniques

Is a closing technique effective on someone who is aware it's being used on them? I believe this depends on how strong your up front contract with the prospect is. If they agreed to go along with you in the process, then yes it should work because they agreed to the rules.

How about memorization? I trained Kung Fu for four years, four or five nights a week. And I've found learning sales methodology is a whole lot like training a martial art. One moment that stands out in my memory is a friend who was a fellow student saying, "You train the advanced techniques not to use them in a fight. You probably won't remember them. But you will be more competent with your basic stances, punches, kicks and blocks."

I continue to mull this over, many years later. I'm not sure he was right. When training, we develop 'muscle memory'. That muscle memory enables our body to quickly react to certain stimuli: a guy popping out of the bushes to our side, for instance. It doesn't rely on thinking memory at all. In that first moment, you don't have time to think at all. Your trained technique is the quick reaction of your body to defend itself. Sales conversations are just as fast.

But now comes the interesting point for the advanced student. This will not happen for newbies, because they are still crashing around, wondering what's going on. But students with some experience have seen things. Time slows down for them after that initial instance of surprise. I can tell you if I see someone coming down the street with intention to harm me, I have a very long time to decide what to do. I can come up with the advanced technique. And if I survive a surprise attack, that slowdown of subjective time also occurs. We're in familiar territory now.

Let's take this to selling. Your newbie is surprised by everything that happens. Prospects behave strangely, don't do what you expect them to, and you haven't laid out any ground rules for your discussion. Everything is an accident.

Your advanced student has seen a thing or two. They know the situation they're getting into; perhaps they have had this conversation many times with similar prospects. They are aware best results come from getting agreements on ground rules for the conversation (up front contracts), and they know for the most part what prospects are going to do. How they are going to try and get free consulting much of the time. How the salesperson must keep control of the process, or become an unpaid consultant. And they have time to come up with the advanced solution or technique.

So memorization of many closing techniques may be effective. But is it the best way to proceed?

If prospects know what you're doing, even if they've agreed to go along with it, they may become resentful. And if you make a mistake and use the wrong technique, you'll get the equivalent of a broken kneecap in sales: a busted conversation. Shut down.

For advanced sales students, it's pretty well known now that if we ask the right questions we can uncover the real reasons a prospect would buy. We know how to qualify them. And so regardless of the closing method we happen to pull out of the toolkit for this instance, I believe we have a very good chance of making the sale--because we have done the ground work well already.

Make sense?

Let's think about what we want to accomplish with closing techniques. To get the sale, right? If the prospect is qualified In, why not? Well, this approach puts a lot of pressure on YOU. But the pressure should be on the prospect, shouldn't it? They're the one with the big problem that badly needs fixing, and they know it. Instead, how about having the approach of wanting to achieve the close because you don't want to become an unpaid consultant.

Think about it. You don't want to give away your knowledge. So you make sure you don't do that unless your client is all signed up. This approach keeps you from getting into conversations where you get taken advantage of. It protects you. And it also benefits the prospect, because it ensures you will only get involved with clients you are very happy to be working with. Furthermore, you don't have to memorize hundreds of techniques you may never use. I believe closing techniques ARE dead. Instead of 'closing', build your process around becoming a paid consultant for your valuable expertise. Roll this around in your mind.

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