You’re doing sales in 2020 (duh). Is there a whole different playbook for closing deals now than there was 10 years ago?
Sales Truth: everything has not changed
“I think there are charlatans in our space promoting their way. Their common phrase of the last few years has been that everything in sales has changed and nothing that used to work still works,” he says.
But what he sees with his own eyes looks very different –– especially in sectors that exist outside of Silicon Valley or other coastal markets.
In fields like construction and insurance, for example, “they’re deploying the very same best practices they did a few years ago –– even 10 years ago,” he says. “Clearly everything has not changed, so I wanted to set the record straight … and call out some of the nonsense.”
In his book, Mike emphasizes the strategy of “creating, not just chasing…being proactive, not just reactive.”
If you haven’t realized it yet, Mike’s specialty is real talk. And he’s here to drop some knowledge.
Screw the gurus –– embrace the tried-and-true
Mike argues that social selling can’t replace traditional selling efforts.
“I’m a user of social, and I’m a fan of social as an aspect of selling,” he says. “Where I get wound up…is when the people who are promoting social selling make it into something bigger than it really is –– and they say stupid stuff like, everything that used to work in sales doesn’t, the phone is dead, you’re a Luddite and a dinosaur if you even dare try to interrupt somebody.”
Purveyors of social selling might have us believe that mega-influencers like Gary V. or Kylie Jenner are models for us –– post tons of crazy content, and people will flock to you.
When self-appointed sales rockstars write LinkedIn posts that poke fun at people who use traditional methods, they’re ignoring “the average guy who sells Mac trucks or works for an industrial distributor selling supplies to a factory –– or other kinds of territory sales jobs around the world,” Mike adds.
Just because a sales method works in tech, it doesn’t necessarily hold true across every industry. In the real world –– that is, the one where we’re selling products beyond our own books and lipsticks –– we have to flip the script.
Bottom line: Inbound efforts do work, but the real magic happens when we blend it together with the proven stuff that has worked for decades.
Selfish is definitely not a four-letter word
Success in sales –– well, in everything, really –– comes down to time, says Mike.
We can’t make more of it, and we all have the same amount of it.
In sales nobody cares how many hours you work as long as you produce results. But he often sees reps work 50 hours a week on everything but selling. And yet they’re constantly busy –– or worse, they’re just doing busy work.
“There are no prizes for having inbox zero,” says Mike.
Dammit, now you tell us?
Well-intentioned sales reps often jump in to help with every role, he says.
So here’s the cold, hard truth: If you’re playing inbox jockey or customer service rep, you’re not doing the real work of sales.
“There are only three verbs that matter in sales,” Mike says. “Create. Advance. Close. Our whole lives should be focused on creating new opportunities, advancing existing opportunities, and closing warm opportunities.”
Nevertheless, keep persisting
It’s one of Mike’s least popular pieces of advice: Prospecting requires discipline, and perseverance is key to converting.
At the risk of sounding like the personal trainer you love to hate, it’s important to prospect every single day.
“It’s reserved, it’s on your calendar. No excuses, no distractions. You cannot break that discipline,” Mike says.
Time blocking is a good way to get it done.
“Time blocking is powerful and wonderful and transformative, and I’m 100% certain that your results will dramatically improve as you take back control of your calendar to spend more time working on the things you know move the needle.”
The best pitch is a change-up
Most salespeople are quite awful at messaging, Mike says. “When they tell their story, when they open their mouth, when they write –– it’s because they’re self-focused.”
In short: sales language and marketing language aren’t always the same. (That’s why we’re usually sitting at different tables in the cafeteria.) When the sales team takes on the mantle of marketing, your product or service is commoditized at best.
And “at worst,” Mike adds, “you’re getting completely ignored.”
The key to communicating compelling messages is to focus on the issues you address for your clients and the outcomes you produce.
So often sales reps default to pitches like:
We’re the best. The most tremendous …
Here’s our storied history.
Here’s our super-cool product.
And like a shark attracted to a swimmer’s paper cut, customers smell a pitch a mile away.
The key is to encourage customers to let their guard down. “To intrigue them and engage their hearts and minds, lead with stuff that’s on their minds. They’ve got problems they want solved. They’ve got pains they’d love to be removed. There are outcomes they’re trying to achieve. They’re under pressure to achieve a different type of result,” Mike offers.
Lead with that and you’ll see great changes.