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Transitioning From Old School
To New School

Most companies position their offering in a very traditional, old school approach. Their selling strategies are rooted in old economic conditions.

The reason they cling to these tried and true strategies is that they still work to a certain degree. Traditional sales strategies have 95% acceptance rate in the marketplace even though they have severe limitations. These conventional strategies are more than likely here to stay because of the perceived problems of changing them.

Behavior modification is the toughest thing you can ask someone to do, especially when you have to have them take his or her ego out of the selling equation.

The following represents a transition from being old school (company-centric and product-centric) to being new school (customer-centric and problem-centric). In order to truly be a trusted advocate for your customer's needs you need to release your self-interest and be more strategic in your approach. Until companies recognize this tenet they will continue to be stuck in sales strategies that are designed to defeat them and frustrate the heck out of them.

1. Old School (Ancient Times, Circa 1990); Spark their interest.
1. New School (Information Economy); Spark their trust.

2. Old School; A good salesperson can sell anything to anyone.
2. New School; If the customer has no problems you have very little to sell.

3. Old School; Get personal to be their friend.
3. New School; Get personal to learn their business and get them to share information.

4. Old School; The best information wins.
4. New School; The best questions win.

5. Old School; Sell the sizzle.
5. New School; Sell the problem, risk, liability and anxiety.

6. Old School; Tell clients you can help them. Tell them what makes you unique and better.
6. New School; Tell them the problems and risks you can solve and alleviate.

7. Old School; Good sales people never quit.
7. New School; Good sales people quit early, fast and with minimal expenditure of resources with poor prospects.

8. Old School; It's important to educate my prospect on my offering.
8. New School; It's important to educate my prospect on their problems, their consequences and their actionability.

9. Old School; WIIFM-Do you remember this? What's in it for me? This isn't a bad principle.
9. New School; WDIHTLIDC-What do I have to lose if I don't change. A slight variation on a good principle.

10. Old School; Present a winning presentation.
10. New School; The best presentation is the customer presenting their problems.

11. Old School; Customers are motivated by gain, opportunity and advantage.
11. New School; Customers are motivated by fear, loss, insecurity, risks and liabilities.

12. Old School; Control the sales process.
12. New School; To gain control you must give up control.

13. Old School; Enthusiasm sells.
13. New School; Empathy sells.

14. Old School; No is a detour to yes. No means yes later. No means I need more data.
14. New School; That's pure drivel and hogwash. Doesn't warrant any further discussion.

15. Old School; People buy from people they like. This is so dated it shouldn't even be mentioned.
15. New School; People buy from people who they respect, trust and value their insight. Keep in mind if they don't like you they definitely won't buy from you.

16. Old School; Highlight your features, advantages and benefits (FAB).
16. New School; Highlight the hypothetical problems, disadvantages and negative consequences your customer is experiencing (PDN/C).

17. Old School; You are paid and awarded to fix problems. Not a bad tenet.
17. NewSchool; You are paid and awarded to identify, assess and evaluate unknown and latent problems. After that the fixing often is a no-brainer.

18. Old School; KISS (keep it simple stupid)
18. New School; Totally applicable today. Some old stuff still really works.

19. Old School; Sell with unshakable confidence, authority and optimism.
19. New School; Sell with a very balanced, objective, dogma free, fluff free and neutral perspective.

20. Old School; Persistent sales people quite frequently wear down their customers to ultimately buy.
20. New School; Raw persistence is the most overrated selling skill in a world where technology allows customers to dictate when and if you ever get hold of them. Walking away is the most underrated. Re-channel your persistence in finding the truth of your customers priorities and reality.

21. Old School; Hungry sales people sell better. The best sales person is one with a lot of unpaid bills.
21. New School; A hungry sales person can't hear, will ask few questions, is steeped in self-interest and demonstrates little empathy. Hungry sales people often starve because they're company-centric, solution-centric and ego-centric.

22. Old School; When closing always position for an "affirmative" decision.
22. New School; You can't fully get a commitment for an "affirmative" decision unless there's an opportunity for the customer to opt-out and tell you "no." Never frame a commitment question without giving your customer an opportunity to say they're not interested.

23. Old School; Establish early rapport with easy and light chitchat.
23. New School; 85% of respondents find unsolicited light chitchat by sales people as distracting and unproductive according to the Brooks Group. Find a happy medium.

24. Old School; The presentation is most important step in the sales process.
24. New School; The discovery step is the most important step in the sales process.

25. Old School; Get personal to be their friend. Not bad. A bit incomplete.
25. New School; Get personal to intimately learn their issues, to know what makes them tick (clients need to know you "get them") and earn their trust.

26. Old School; For Pete's sake, do not bring up negatives.
26. New School; By being balanced and bringing up negatives and possible hurtles you demonstrate trust, credibility and having the customer's best interests at heart.

27. Old School; Make your customers your friends and your friends your customers. Not a bad tenet if they allow this to happen.
27. New School; Build trusting business relationships and create value and let the rest follow naturally.

28. Old School; Sales is all about personal service, quick response, attention to detail, going the extra distance and caring for your customer.
28. New School; All of the above are critically important as a customer service function. The new caveat is personal service has evolved further into intimate knowledge of the customer's business to drive their profits.

As you can see the preceding list requires one to take a non-selling posture where the customers have been given the freedom to self-analyze their business issues and reach the their own answers. Remember, the customer is generally the best sales person at the selling event. They more often than not have the inside track on what they want and they ultimately have to sell themselves on whether they want to buy or not. Give them the latitude and the independence, thru your guidance and superior questions, to find their own answers.

By taking on a neutral position, the sales person adopts the role of a change-agent where they have all the thought-provoking questions and the customer has all the interesting answers. The sales person builds trust by giving customers a wide berth with the acknowledgment that ultimately the customer knows what is best for them.

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com