Throwback Thursday: Classic Sales Techniques

Sales Techniques to Remember on Throwback Thursday

August 21, 2014


It’s hard to believe we ever thought feathered hair and Zubazs were a good combination. But it’s Thursday and you’re ready to do the once-unthinkable: upload that cringe-worthy photo to your social media profile.

A popular trend in social media is Throwback Thursday, a day to reminisce on the ideas that were good – once!  Like our wardrobes, selling has changed dramatically in the last 3 decades. New technology and social media have fundamentally changed the sales techniques modern sellers use, but that doesn't mean we can't look back (somewhat fondly or not…) on the selling tactics of yesteryear.

In honor of Throwback Thursday, let’s take a look at three once popular sales techniques that have gone the way of snap bracelets and stirrup pants:

1. Cold Calling

Cold calling is ineffective, inefficient, and unpleasant for those on both ends of the phone. In the past, sellers used to pound the phones to generate leads. Cold calls were successful less than 3% of the time – which is why each seller would make dozens of calls each day.  Each rejection meant one step closer to a ‘yes’.

With the rise of the content creation, buyers were able to start educating themselves about solutions to their problems – and stopped answering the phone. When sellers called, they’d find buyers had already done their research and didn’t want to hear a sales pitch. Sellers relying on cold calls were stopped in their tracks just as fast as if they’d been strapped into platform shoes with live goldfish.

2. ABC: Always Be Closing

Back in the day, it was all about making the sale. Taught to Always Be Closing, sellers aggressively pursued reluctant buyers – plowing over objections, pushing to move forward in the buying cycle, and using every trick they knew to close the deal quickly. It was all about the high-pressure, hard sell to close the deal today.

The ABC sales technique went the way of Hammer Pants because they missed the chance to build relationships with their prospects. When the Internet opened up hundreds of identical possibilities, buyers could blow off the sellers who made them feel uncomfortable. Today’s savvy sellers must Always Be Connecting to build the long-lasting relationships that lead to sales.

3. Promotion Over Value

When social selling was young, many companies viewed social media as simply another promotion vehicle. Instead of creating value for their customers, they pushed blatant advertisements and press releases out on their social channels. Unsurprisingly, back in 2008, less than 20% of people trusted the information they read on corporate blogs!

Luckily, just like teens realized that neon flatters no one, companies realized that customers want to engage with a brand - not to read a sales pitch. Social sales techniques evolved from pushing for a sale to publishing articles and alerting potential customers to interesting, relevant information.  Today, most customers love it when companies create content for them – and it makes them even more likely to buy.

If it makes you cringe to think back to when you used those tactics as your main sales techniques, you’re not alone.  On Throwback Thursday, it’s time to celebrate the crazy choices that were a good idea at the time – and to give a silent sign of relief that we’ve moved forward.  What a relief to never need to feather your hair, don fingerless gloves or dial 100 numbers just to get someone to pick up the phone again!

Want to hear how a top seller adapted with the times? Jill Rowley explains how she navigated the new challenges and opportunities in the age of social selling.