A little while ago I got to spend a week in London at the European SiriusDecisions Summit; a two-day event focused on helping B2B Sales, Marketing, and Product leaders grow their business through market research and operational frameworks.
One of the most memorable experiences there came in the form of a conversation with a senior marketing leader about prospecting and sales execution. He told me a story about a rep from his company who, in an effort to reach a decision-maker and close a deal at month-end, decided to FaceTime his customer while on vacation. “What do you think about that?” he asked. I have to admit my initial reaction was viscerally negative, but then, something strange happened.
For context, as a long-time B2B sales leader and business owner, people have been prospecting into me for years. I’m also a firm believer that the future of sales won’t involve bothering customers until they buy something from us. That’s why my initial reaction was similar to how I felt when Gary Vaynerchuk, perennial straight-shooting and occasional f-bomb-dropping entrepreneur, asked my New York City audience this simple question; “Who HATES IT when another human being calls them on the phone?” 40% of us, including me, raised their hands. Why? Because in this age of extreme distraction, many of us are conditioned to reject unwanted encroachments on our precious time. But strangely, my negative sentiment concerning Mr. FaceTime quickly turned to admiration. While I personally don’t like getting sales calls on vacation (never mind video calls), I whole-heartedly applaud that rep for trying something new and different!
I recall with loving fondness, the first enterprise sales job I ever had where even experienced AE’s would walk into customer meetings armed with the first call deck from three sales kickoffs ago, and the logo of the company they presented to last week still emblazoned on the cover.
Indeed, in modern sales organizations, reps are finding that the tactics or messaging they used as recently as last quarter aren’t landing as well as they used to.
Despite their familiarity and tendency to work from time to time, here are three reasons you should never fall in love with your sales tactics.
1. Times change quicker than you think
If you think the selling landscape hasn’t changed much in recent years, think again! According to research from the Bridge Group:
- the number of outreach attempts baked into the average sales sequence has more than doubled over the past ten years
- the number of quality conversations per sales rep per day has fallen by 45% since 2014
- the average experience required of a new business development rep was half of what it was ten years ago.
Arming new reps with stale tactics for connecting with buyers that are increasingly harder to reach is a recipe for failure. The game keeps changing. You need to change with it!
2. Using generic tactics will kill your conversion rates
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a generic prospecting email or phone call that showcased the fact that the seller did ZERO homework and had no idea what you do? Or have you ever received a product demo where the use cases and terminology were clearly intended for a customer in a different industry or role?
Maybe those tactics worked for the rep (or someone they knew) in another instance and they figured, it might just work on you too! As the famous American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, postured, if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Don’t be lazy! To connect with modern buyers you need to deliver a personalized approach and speak their language during each interaction.
Bonus video: Using Reciprocity to Increase Your Prospecting Response Rates
3. You’ll sound the same as everyone else
Like the latest fad, sales tactics quickly come in to favor because they work for a while, but then quickly become so pervasive and cliché you can’t help but cringe when you’re exposed to them. Perhaps it’s a cold connection request on LinkedIn quickly followed by a sales pitch the moment you accept. Maybe it’s receiving a first-time email with a subject line that begins with “Re:” in an attempt to boost open rates. Or even better, the old alligator email. News flash; you sound the same as everyone else, and in the sea of sameness, you will be ignored! Want to stand out? Change up your tactics.
As I’ve said before; sales is hard! Advances in social and mobile technologies combined with the sheer numbers of solutions flooding the market have made modern buyers more skeptical, peer-driven, and empowered than ever before. With immunity quickly building up to many sales tactics, modern sales professionals need to adapt. To quote one of the great Marshall Goldsmith‘s most famous books, “what got you here won’t get you there”.
Don’t fall in love with your tactics!
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