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.<<