NEWSFLASH: In 2018, business isn’t done the way it was “back in the day.” Back when driving to the store to shop was an adventure. Back when prospects didn’t know they had so many business options. Back when information and prices weren’t instantly available over the internet.

Even so, many companies continue to employ the same tactics that have been used since Gutenberg invented moveable type. For example, many households no longer get a local newspaper, and yet the Friday edition of your local paper probably has an auto dealership insert with four-color ads and lots of tiny pictures of car lot inventory. Thanks to the internet, potential customers can conduct price comparisons with a couple of clicks. They know what’s available and where to get the best deal.

Simple concept: if you’re using the same strategies you used 10 years ago, you’re 10 years behind the times. Here are some dusty, outmoded sales tactics that need to be retired:

The “staying-in-touch” email. “Hey, Bob, just thought we should chat when you have the time.” Email makes communications simpler. It also makes communication annoying if you send out weekly “just staying in touch” emails. In business, you know these emails, disguised as friendly messages, are selling you.

If you do send emails to clients, give them a reason not to send you to the spam folder. A promotion. A loyal customer discount. A link to a free e-book. We all get tons of emails, and busy businesspeople don’t have time to talk about the weather. Unless there’s benefit to the recipient, don’t “stay in touch.” You’re wasting your time and your customers’ time.

Pushing too hard too fast. Nobody likes a pushy salesperson. Creating a lasting relationship with a prospect is a lot like an old-fashioned courtship. You meet. You get to know the prospect, his interests, her business needs, and over time, you create a solid business relationship. Now you’re ready to convert these prospects into key elements of an expanding client list.

Being unprepared. This is an almost sure-fire deal killer right out of the gate. If you’re stumbling to respond to a prospect’s objections, you look like a rookie. Prospects want solutions to help their business run smoothly and more productively. Be prepared. Do your research on the client-company. Find specific needs your company can fill. When a prospect pushes back, be ready with the right information to handle the situation.

Providing too much information. Providing too much information can be just as bad as not providing enough. Keep your sales promos short, targeted to the needs of prospects, attainable, and adaptable to the needs of new clients.

Missing the marketing mark.  Know who you’re talking to. Know what they want and why they want it. Put some money into customer research and then target your marketing with greater specificity. When done properly, marketing is an investment in your business, so aim for your demographic. Think laser targeting, not shotgun.

Putting sales on auto pilot. Chances are, following your instincts isn’t a solid business practice. You might as well get a crystal ball. You need good research to constantly refine your marketing efforts. Business – at least successful business – doesn’t rely on instinct. It relies on quantifiable data collected over a period of time – weekly, quarterly, annually – you need numbers.

Trend lines to predict the future with greater accuracy. Website metrics that display where site visitors go, how many pages they view, how long they stay on your website, and even where these online prospects go after leaving your site. Collect the data. Analyze it without bias. Refine based on results. Keep refining it as you gather more and more research.

Just avoiding the whole painful process. Selling is hard, and getting it right takes thought and constant refinement. Cold calls? Easy to put off because rejection is painful, even if it’s part of the job description. Deciding on a display layout for a tri-fold brochure? Can’t someone else do it? It’s important to invest time in your marketing efforts. Bite the bullet and set up a schedule to force yourself to make calls, update your website, review printed materials, and take care of any other marketing-related chores.

It’s a different day with different technology and empowered consumers who’ve done their research online. These are the people you need to reach. Time to kick long-entrenched sales tactics to the curb, and grow your business using today’s best practices.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.