8 Terrible Sales Ideas We’re Addicted To.

Sales needs an overhaul.

Frankly, the entire selling process needs to change.  And to be fair that's probably an exaggeration.

(Not everything needs to change.)

Despite the sensationalism around recent trends in buyer behavior, buying and selling is pretty much the same now as it was 5,000 years ago.

Those who want pay those who have.

It's just that simple.

And regardless of the next evolution in buyer behavior, most of that won't change.

So why does the entire selling process need to change?

Simply, we've collected too many bad sales processes over the years.

We've become addicted to hollow phrases and people-less selling processes.  We've adopted conventional wisdom and selfish behavior as guide posts for our activity.  And when that's not enough, we let social peer pressure determine what we do and who we are.

And it's time we stopped.

It's time we gave it all a second thought.

Here's a few terrible sales ideas that we need to rethink:

1. "Always Be Closing"

Made dramatically popular by Glengary Glen Ross, we've largely subscribed to the idea that the entire sales process is a series of trial closes.  We use charm, wit, and a series of leading questions in rapid succession to build rapport, qualify budget, and get a commission check.  And while there's nothing wrong with closing deals, the idea that "closing" is the journey is misguided and sel limiting.  You can only bully and out-smart your career so far.

Edgy Alternative:  "Always be caring and collaborating"...

2. Using business cards

Do we really need business cards any more?  Seriously.  It used to be that the business card was the primary way to inform potential customers of what you did and how to get in touch with you when they needed your services.  In the days of the rolodex, the business card was your own personal Yellow Pages.  In an era where an executive worked thirty years for the same company, keeping phone numbers on pieces of paper made sense.  That seems distinctly out of place in today's social landscape.

Edgy Alternative:  Online identity and social profile management

3. Networking Events

The second major evolution in selling came about with the localized settlement of pioneers on their way out West.  As towns sprung up across the praire, merchants caravanned a wide assortment of goods from the East to their local area.  Buyers appreciated the diversity of the products and reputation of the business owner.  The shop owner would network with the local buyers.  Shaking hands and buying prospects drinks became ways to build rapport and trust.  That hasn't evolved much in the last few hundred years.  We find ourselves still slapping backs, buying beers, and feigning intimacy.

Edgy Alternative:  Creating unconventional ideas and giving away invaluable industry knowledge -- creating attraction.

4. Daily Status Reports

Just about the time we stopped getting the results from our sales executives, we decided that them spending 30 minutes drafting up a daily email about activity was the way to go.  Instead of creating accountability and transparency, we substituted process justification.  The daily email of sales activity is all about quantity.  It's bulk achievement over breakthrough achievement.  And in spite of the added requirement for our sales team, it doesn't seem to help them be any more successful.

Edgy Alternative: Hiring better sales people and creating a culture of accountability over activity

5. Selfish sales processes

In our quest to be more effective sale people and avoid losing sales deals, we built sales processes to guide our behavior.  And with the best of intentions, we created a careful series of qualification questions and buyer agreements.  We started to demand "upfront commitments" from interested prospects in order to share more of our insights.  And while not thoroughly impeachable, the selfish attitude behind these behaviors has made us less effective, less impressive performers.  In attempting to remove fallibility from our work, we forgot that it never was about us in the first place.

Edgy Alternative:  Bold empathy and passionate investment in others

6. The "I" and "We"

It's in our emails, voicemails, and Powerpoint presentation.  All we talk about is us.  It's our product, our process, our unique differentiation.  It's how we start our correspondence and end our sales pitch.  It "us" versus the rest of the world and we're determined to get ours.  And we've forgotten the power of the buyer's pain and passion.  And that's just sad, because that's really all the buyer really care's about.  The "I" in your tone of voice is just getting in the way of a deal getting done.

Edgy Alternative:  Ferociously make it all about "them" (even when it hurts)

7. Writing too long emails

Somewhere wedged between the novella and Webster's dictionary are just over 9,000 emails sent by sale executives to potential buyers on a daily basis.  For some reason we think that our buyers have the time and interest to read this stuff.  They don't.  It's not even close.  They are constantly pulled in 17 different directions for the ten consecutive hours they are in the office.  Sitting down and reading emails (especially a long one) is the lowest priority on their list. Being boring isn't a good strategy for any business endeavor.  Keeping your emails "mobile" friendly and focused is key to getting the action you want from buyers.

Edgy Alternative: 4-5 sentences max sent 2-3 times (in a seamless conversation) over a 24 day period or until you get a response

8. Cold calling

Calling new prospects with new ideas and help for probabilistic frustration is in no way anything to be ashamed of.  But in the silliness of explaining the series of actions and emotions that make this outreach truly effective, we've confused the real point of evangelism.  We use terms like "warm calling" and "hot calling" and build passionate line-in-the-sand sales training about what is right and what is wrong.  There is nothing wrong with evangelism.  Being a jerk, a bully, or downright shady is something else.  Maybe that's where we should focus our sales training efforts.

Edgy Alternative:  Emotionally intelligent passion (some practice and preparation helps).

To Be Continued... (right here)