Don’t tighten the sales knot

Sales aren’t working like they used to. And you’re feeling it..

You’re missing targets, and the pressure is mounting. The clock is ticking, and the board is watching. And missing targets isn’t just a number; it’s a potential stain on your leadership and a threat to your team’s morale. But you’re not alone; many sales directors and team leaders are in the same boat. However beware that you don’t make the same mistake as them! Many of them are pulling harder on traditional out of date tactics and solutions, and the ‘sales knot’ is tightening around them, strangling their hopes for sales growth.

But all this is avoidable.

Below are some sales tactics that really aren’t working so well any more for many businesses. If you agree these aren’t working, then be careful what knee-jerk solutions you throw at the problem. Because the problem might have become something new, that you don’t yet fully understand with your existing sales lens on. If you’re noticing these things, it might be time to get a clean, clear up to date picture of your current sales function, alongside how your ideal customers are currently buying, so we can systematically align the two:

Fading Tactics

Cold calling

Remember the good old days when you could pick up the phone, start a relationship, and close a deal? Those days are gone. Cold calling has a dismal 2% success rate. (If you don’t buy in to that stat – because it does depend on industries, just use your own experience and common sense to clock how well it’s working for your team.) As Jeb Blount puts it, “The cold call isn’t dead; it’s just irrelevant.” Having said that, the phone still works, and people do still use it. Just in different ways. Fact: Your buyers use their phones. The question is, how? We can pretty easily find out for you, and help you align.

Being proud that you’re a natural ‘sales person’

We’ve met plenty, and they’re often nice, driven, energetic ‘people people’…who were once successful. Successful back in the day when certain sales traits were helpful to engage people confidently in conversations, and build relationships. But those days are gone. Or at least, the style of conversations buyers now want are different.

This is really important to understand.

In the past, the sale often fully depended on conversation, with some limited written information. People had time to talk, and needed to. These days, whether we want to accept it or not, the time to talk is more limited. Because we all chew through our time with other distractions, usually in the form of our phones, and social media. People want conversations differently, in different doses, with a different tone. And this style of value-building conversation need not be held anymore by your stereotypical ‘sales person’. People don’t get won over anymore by charm. They want value. And they want it now! (They literally want to feel it very quickly once they’re engaged).

And so it requires a more sophisticated and refined approach, which can be achieved by following a well designed conversational structure. Something we customise for our clients, and then train teams on.

It’s important to note that we are not knocking pride of previous success. But we are saying that if you cling too tightly onto your pride when it’s something that no longer works, you’re probably going to struggle with your sales moving ahead.

The other spanner in the works is that often once-successful sales people move into sales leadership. And they’re now running the show. With potentially out of date tactics that once worked, trying to get their younger teams to do what they say works. But it doesn’t. And it’s uncomfortable.

If you think this may be you, we get it, it’s common, and if you’re willing and put more emphasis on wanting to get the job right, rather than sticking to your once successful now out of date approach, we can help you make a shift for the better. Contact us.

Email campaigns (and Linkedin)

You might think that in the digital age, emails, or Linkedin campagins might be your savior. Think again. Neil Patel warns, “Emails are not your sales machine; they’re your credibility killers.” And Linkedin messages can often do you more harm than good. Despite what you’ve been told. (You know it, deep inside..) One remedy? Create compelling and valuable content that engages your audience and builds trust. Establish yourself as an authority, and the sales will follow. We know that “fit and value” is everything, and must take place not just once, but every step of the way of your buyer’s journey. Emails can be the conduit to add value, but you need to ensure that your buyers are active and responsive to them first. And we can find out for you, for sure, if they are or not.

Social media

It’s not a silver bullet. Yet so many businesses just employ a young social media person and let them run with it. It’s simple:

Everything you say or do in sales, either takes you towards the sale, or moves you away from the sale.

That means that some of what you post on social media is taking you away from the sale! I wonder what posts fall into that category?

Social media alone is not the answer. It’s a go-to tactic that can backfire. Getting your messaging, positioning and branding right is what’s required, and then helping whoever is driving your social media to get it right. It’s probabilistic, but an important investment to get right. Especially if cold calling and emails aren’t working so well for you and social media is a viable tactic!

Lead gen agencies

You may get lucky. But many will simply go wrong on many of the points in this article. Loading the gun with wonky bullets and spraying it all over the place. And it hurts people. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Using your old “Why”

You started with a vision, a “why,” but along the way, it got lost in the daily grind, or became redundant due to new circumstances. The impact is a diluted company vision that affects team alignment and customer loyalty. This is common. It might be time to get a new ‘why’ and a new vision.

Relying on just your sales people

Your secret weapon is probably your customer-facing non-sales people. And AI. It’s a losing tactic now to just lean on your sales people. Other resources can be doing so much of the heavy lifting when sales is concerned. Leaving your actual sales people to work fast, lightly, and repeatedly, doing what they do best. Talk to us about this.

Deviating in marketing

You’ve strayed from your core product or service, causing brand confusion. This dilutes your unique value proposition and makes selling much harder. Resistance occurs and sales drop. Realignment required.

Milking the same target market for too long

Your target market has evolved, but you haven’t. The result? Your sales forecasts become irrelevant, and your competitive advantages vanish. It might be time to reassess who your ideal customers are. And then consider why your USP is so valuable to that specific group. And then look at how they move, in what patterns, and how they engage with technology, and ultimately how they buy what you offer. Get clear on that, and align with it. Adding value every step of the way.

Flying blind or ignoring key metrics

You’ve lost sight of the metrics that matter. You’re focused on vanity metrics that don’t align with your company’s vision. The impact? Misguided strategies that lead you further away from your goals. This is common. Just because something can be measured doesn’t mean it should be. We need to align metrics with your overall vision and strategy. And drill things down into activity measures for your teams who contribute to sales. We can help you with this.

Pressuring your team

You shouldn’t judge a fish by how well it can climb a tree. And whipping it harder will have damaging knock on effects. If your people are burning out, it’s on you. Some realignment is due. Take charge, and get a deeper understanding of your situation – contact us. And stop keep trying to get them to make sales by ‘working harder’ or pulling some magic out of the air. Get in touch.

Letting your team operate like they did a few years ago

This is a catch-all description of a common problem. If you think your team are pretty much selling in the same way they did some years ago, it’s a red light that something might need to change. You’re either probably in a sales problem right now (read about the sales plateau here) or you’re on a trajectory towards one. Consider this a friendly warning. It’s time to shake things up, reboot, realign and take your sales team to new heights that they can and want to go.

We offer some solutions to this below.

The solution

You don’t have to settle for any of these fading tactics. You can take charge of your situation and do something about it, starting for FREE if you explore the options below.

4 Steps

To overcome your sales plateau

FREE 6 month sales growth plan

Download our example sales growth plan for SME’s and small sales teams.

FREE diagnosis and strategy session

Schedule a FREE 30 minute virtual call with us to diagnose, explore, and send strategies in a custom report to improve your sales.

FREE diagnosis and strategy session

Schedule a FREE 30 minute virtual call with us to diagnose, explore, and send strategies in a custom report to improve your sales.

FULL diagnosis and strategic path to sales growth

A deep dive to test and discover how to systematically improve your sales efficiently.

6 months + implementation

Want help for any or all of your implementation? We can support you in many different ways and at the level that works for you to improve your sales engine.

6 months + implementation

Want help for any or all of your implementation? We can support you in many different ways and at the level that works for you to improve your sales engine.

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