Sales enablement has more than its share of fashions: every season, there is some new offering or idea designed to capture your attention, always promising better results faster, and with less effort. These fashions often interact with larger trends, most recent tech developments.
It’s easy to be captivated by the next “new thing,” even when its promises amount to “get rich quick” or “lose weight without dieting or exercising.” But there is no replacement for knowing how to have effective sales conversations with your clients, especially the tricky conversations about the commitments your client needs to embrace to make a good decision about their future.
Social Selling: For a good long while, social selling was the dominant fashion. It promised that one need only comment on the things their prospects published to connect with them, forever dispelling the need to use the phone to get meetings and build their pipeline. The tools have some value, but they don’t do nearly as much as promised. You rarely see the words “social” and “selling” together anymore, as the idea was never capable of delivering what it promised.
Account-Based Selling: When social selling failed to provide better results, the fashion shifted to Account-Based Selling and Account-Based Marketing. These decades-old ideas were and are valuable, but a lot of people who rushed into them gave up at the first whiff of real work and effort. Fashions that require hard work don’t usually last very long. Once people recognize the effort it takes to produce results, their enthusiasm wears off quickly.
Automated Sequences: You can always count on Silicon Valley to deliver a brute-strength approach. The Holy Grail in the Valley is automating sales to such an extent that your laptop practically prints money while you sleep. Fully automated sequences promised that salespeople could fill their calendars with meetings without ever touching a phone or sending an email themselves. And that’s precisely the problem: when you know the person emailing you didn’t really write the email, it’s spam.
In fact, because so many salespeople bought into this trend, most professionals treat all emails from salespeople as potential spam. A good prospecting sequence requires a “phone-first” approach and a customized message, based on what the salesperson knows about their client.
Outsourced Appointment Setting on LinkedIn: One way to recognize outsourced (but still annoying) LinkedIn spam is the increasingly lame message templates. They include lines like “The best part is, if it doesn’t work, you don’t pay,” not to mention that old chestnut, “I have included a link to my calendar so you can schedule with me.” Hiring a spammer shows that you don’t care about targeting the right people for your product—or about damaging your own reputation with a lazy “spray and pray” approach.
Virtual Selling: In a pandemic, you’ll need to use video tools to sell. These tools can substitute well for face-to-face meetings, for now. But eventually, you’ll go back to meeting your clients on their turf or invite them to come to visit you. It’s easy to believe that there is a “new normal” and that “things will never go back,” but you’d be wrong on both counts.
Human beings are still going to meet with each other, share meals, and spend time together talking about their businesses and better results. When physical meetings are rare, showing up creates a potentially unstoppable competitive advantage.
Flush the Fashion
The path to better sales results doesn’t run through fads and fashions. No one gets better at the sales conversation by using these fads, let alone at creating the kind of value that creates a preference to buy from them. Whatever’s in fashion, better sales results require acquiring the right mindset and improving your fundamental skillsets.
You can differentiate yourself through the sales conversation by using a modern, consultative sales approach, applying your business acumen and your situational knowledge. The discovery segment of your sales conversation is where you are likely to create the most value, and getting better at helping your clients see something they missed will improve your results more than any get-sales-quick scheme.
Maybe there will come a time when salespeople no longer need to do cold outreach to get meetings with their dream clients, but at that point salespeople probably won’t be necessary at all. Focus on the fundamentals of good selling, no matter how much noise there is about a “new normal” or a “new way,” and beware of anything that promises results without real effort.
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