The most important goal that sales organization, sales managers, and salespeople should pursue is effectiveness: the degree to which what you do produces the desired result. Because effectiveness drives sales, you can think of your win rate as a proxy measure for your effectiveness. A lack of effectiveness means you are inefficient, investing time and energy without producing a positive outcome. Not only are your results harmed by a lack of effectiveness, but the time you invested is lost forever.
Many sales organizations have been slow to adopt a modern sales approach that is effective in this time and this environment. Instead, they try to improve their results by doing more of what no longer works, and they continue to train their sales forces in outdated strategies and tactics, some of which are over fifty years old.
Don’t Practice Broken Strategies
For the longest time, professional sales training and development were designed to help the salesperson win a prospective client's business. The further back you go, the more certain the strategies and tactics were designed to serve the salesperson’s and the sales organization's goals—not the prospective client's needs. Likewise, the major changes in modern sales strategies and tactics are the result of adapting to the prospective client's needs.
The legacy approach gave way to solution selling, as companies and decision-makers needed more help solving the problems that prevented them from producing the results they needed. The environment had changed, with more companies entering markets and commoditizing most categories, while forces like globalization "flattened the Earth."
Solution selling has now given way to a modern sales approach, one that addresses the complexities of our current environment. Both buying and selling are more difficult now than even twenty years ago—often by a large degree of magnitude. Complexity and constant change delay or prevent decision-making, causing decision-makers to struggle to give up the status quo. When each day brings another surprise, what feels safe is doing nothing.
The more complex your client’s environment, the greater their needs. Pretending that nothing has changed over the last several decades means ignoring what your clients need from a salesperson and a sales organization. The surest path to increasing your effectiveness is to stop doing what we know no longer works. Here are two areas to fix.
Poor Sales Strategy #1: Broken Discovery
The first and arguably most important sales meeting, the discovery meeting, has been completely commoditized, creating little to no value for the prospective client. If your approach starts with a conversation about your company, your clients, your results, and your offerings, you will project that you have too little to offer. At best, your prospective clients will ghost you, even if they do so nicely with phrases like “let me get back to you on that.” At worst, they might join Witness Protection and move to rural Idaho.
The discovery strategy you need now is one in which you both teach and learn. Educating your client helps them make sense of their world, recognize their future potential, and make the best decision for their company and their results. Any time-wasting approach missing that education is not going to address the client's needs, so it just reduces your effectiveness.
Poor Sales Strategy #2: Targeting the Decision-Maker
In the past, you would have had little trouble identifying "the decision-maker." It would be clear by the person's title, and you would have been able to convince them to spend time with you. Instead of a single decision-maker, you now find multiple decision-makers: a large set of people who are going to be allowed to weigh in on a decision to change, and if change is necessary, whose help they prefer.
A long-term trend in business is to delegate decisions to the people responsible for producing the required results. Unfortunately, this trend makes many deals die with a "no-decision," as the client's team is unable to find a consensus, much like a hung jury. Yet many older sales strategies don't even include consensus as a goal, let alone recognizing the salesperson's role in helping the client achieve it.
If you have not yet transformed your sales approach, you are falling behind. There is no reason to try to get better at sales strategies and sales tactics that are no longer effective.