Written by Mike Renahan | HubSpot
Every day there are several new blog posts about the next best sales technique for converting leads to customers. These strategies are popping up all over the place, and they have a lot of reps both curious and confused.
If you’re skeptical, it’s with good reason. While there are a ton of great sales strategies out there, there are a few that sales reps could do without. Here’s a list of six techniques that are dated at best, and flat out dangerous at worst. Ready? Here we go.
1. The “You’re Perfect” Technique
People really like compliments. So if you’re a salesperson, complimenting a prospect on their business, or their home, or their car is a great way to build a relationship and eventually close a sale. In fact, compliments actually build trust between two people.
Praise is great! That is until some sales reps take it over the top. Salespeople using the “you’re perfect” technique dole out compliments like candy during sales meetings. After so many compliments, the prospect starts to think, “Hey, I’m pretty great. I don’t need to listen to this salesperson at all!” And the plan ultimately backfires.
The right way to use this technique is in the early stages of the process. Opening with a compliment puts the prospect at ease, but it’s also important to offer critical feedback.
The lesson: Compliments are great – until you overuse them. Offer real feedback, and create a solution.
2. The “I’m-Not-Taking-No-For-An-Answer” Technique
This is one that comes up all too often. This technique entails relentlessly following up with a hesitant prospect over and over and over again until the salesperson finally gets a “yes.”
However, while persistence is a virtue in sales, there’s a time to call it quits. If you haven’t gotten an answer to your initial outreach, by all means, pursue. But if you’ve heard back and the prospect has let you know they aren’t interested, it’s best to lay off and refocus later.
In the world of sales today, your best bet is to offer help. If you get a “no, I’m not interested,” don’t try to fight it. A few weeks down the road, send a piece of helpful content or a valuable referral to the prospect with an accompanying note: “Thought you would enjoy this message/benefit from this introduction.” This will spark a conversation, and keep you and your product top of mind.
The lesson: Don’t bombard buyers. Keep it friendly and helpful.
3. The “Cold Call After Cold Call After Cold Call” Method
Cold calls represent one of the more difficult parts of the sales process, but the majority of companies and reps still use the strategy every day. Simply put, cold calls have become a challenge for reps because buyers screen their calls, and use executive assistants and other gatekeepers to avoid any and all salespeople.
So what are companies and reps supposed to do? Start sending warm emails instead.
Focusing on the research phase of the sales process allows reps to really know their prospects before they reach out. By taking the time to dive into your buyer’s social profiles, or reaching out to common connections for advice on how to approach them, a sales rep can get the necessary information to really make this connection work.
But it’s not just social media where reps can reap information. A company’s website is a great place to gain insight. Normally, reps can read about the accomplishments highlighted by the company here, the employee’s history, and where they are from.
The lesson: Cold calls are unpleasant. Warm emails, however, really speed up the sales process.
4. The Information Overload-er
Sales reps need to do a fair amount of research on each prospect if they want to understand that buyer’s business and create a connection. Unfortunately, sometimes they do a little too much research and go into an information overload rant.
After preparing a presentation, a rep might see so many connections between the buyer’s business. The product can do this and this and this, so you don’t have to do that and that and that.
Before the prospect actually has time to digest all the information, the rep is already focused on the next set of things that their awesome product can do. Ultimately, the prospect becomes confused and shies away.
Be an information provider, not an information overload-er. The right way to present your research is to have three to five benefits ready to go that tie into each prospect’s business.
The lesson: Instead of listing every great thing your product does, do research on your buyer, and then highlight very specific details and focus on relevant benefits. This is by far the best way to pique interest.
5. The “As Active As Possible” Technique
It’s a hot debate inside the sales arena right now: Should salespeople prospect for as many leads as they possibly can, or take a more low-volume, high-quality approach? Both techniques have shown to be successful in different circumstances, but in my opinion, there’s a clear loser. The high-volume, as-active-as-possible technique is the wrong way to go.
Qualified leads are more important than just leads. And only a targeted search will surface qualified leads. But by narrowing prospecting searches down to very specific people in very specific fields, reps can come up with a list of targets that actually need and could use their product.
This is important because of customer lifetime value. While the initial sale is great, bad fit customers might ultimately churn or cancel down the road and cost your company money. By taking the time to find high-quality leads up front, a rep increases the odds that these converted customers will stick with the product for the long haul.
The lesson: Put all your energy into developing a list of highly relevant targets and pursuing them. Instead of writing 600 emails, write 200, and spend the extra time doing research and fine-tuning your pitch.
6. The Indirect Route
Oftentimes, reps get too caught up in the “I need to be helpful” mentality and forget they’re trying to actually sell a product. Emails that end with, “If you have a second, give me a call” or “Hope to hear back!” can be dramatically less effective than simply being forward and asking what time is best for the person to connect with you.
Without being somewhat direct, there is no rush for the prospect to respond or make a purchase, and this defeats the whole purpose of reaching out to them.
The key with this method is to include a call to action in every email you send, moving the discussion forward. It could be as easy as sending a calendar invite after the first email exchange or listing times for a follow-up meeting.
The lesson: Be friendly and helpful, but move the conversation forward.
Being an effective salesperson comes down to working hard, honing your craft, and making improvements every day. What might work for some reps won’t work for you, and what works for you won’t work for others. What we can all agree on, though, is that some strategies don’t work at all.
About the Author
Mike is a Customer Success Manager at HubSpot. He is a people person, data-driven, always learning and helping companies grow better.