Over the past 10 – 20
years, anyone who has been involved in selling into B2B markets has been
inundated with information on how one can (or should) sell using the latest
technology. Emails, letters, texts,
social media messaging, etc. have been promoted as the “sales tools of the
This past Thursday and
Friday, while attending our client’s (Portfolio Reinsurance) annual sales
meeting, I was reminded how critical “old school” selling is and how the latest
techniques can only supplement the proven “old school” way of acquiring a
This sales meeting was
primarily run by two experts in the area of automotive dealership F&I (finance
and insurance) operations, Greg Hoffman and Graye Wolfe. Greg and Graye are both Managing Directors of
Portfolio, and each is an outstanding businessperson, having been high
performers throughout their careers. These
two gentlemen have a strong track record of successfully closing very
high-ticket transactions, and during the meetings, both Graye and Greg emphasized
that their use of “old school” selling approaches have long been a key to their
success. Some of their techniques are
well worth noting, and remembering:
selling a large-ticket item, or an ongoing business relationship, the process
is personal. Whenever possible, visit
with the customer or prospect in person, and have a face-to-face
discussion. Email and texts, letters, and
even phone conversations are great communications tools, but they will never
replace the connection, and the nuanced and clear communications, that can be
realized by meeting with someone in person.
And remember, most prospect’s Inboxes are loaded with emails. Similarly, many of your prospects are
inundated with text messages.
possible, fully address the points of a transaction or business relationship
that might be contentious. If these
elements are going to be barriers to doing business, you are doing the prospect
and yourself a disservice by not getting that information on the table as soon
as possible. No one enjoys discussing
what might be an uncomfortable subject, but the sooner it is addressed, the
better for all involved.
some point in the sales cycle, one must determine whether the prospect is going
to become a customer…ask for the order, or the commitment. I believe that most who sell for a living, at
one time or the other, have hesitated to take the actions necessary to find out
whether a prospect could be (or was going to be) a customer or not. This hesitancy is probably based on a core
fear that the answer is actually going to be “no.”
Now, I am not naïve enough
to think that one can rely strictly on selling to successfully move their
products or services over the long term.
Marketing has always played a key role in the whole “making a customer” process,
at times even serving to predispose the prospect towards your sales message
prior to a meeting. Today, a company has
many new options for marketing success – digital advertising, social media
(particularly LinkedIn®), email marketing, Search Engine Marketing (including
Pay-Per-Click Google ads), e-marketing/retargeting advertising, e-newsletter
and website advertising, emailing, texting, etc.
However, even in the area
of B2B marketing, certain “old school” techniques can be very effective, when
combined with some of the new marketing techniques.
advertising, creatively developed and placed in carefully selected trade
publications, can often help garner attention, build a brand, and elicit a
the volume of B2B direct mail has been reduced (mostly replaced by less-expensive
email), a well-concepted, written, and designed direct mailer can stand out in
a manner that gets noticed.
crafted letters, professionally produced, can also get attention that an email
while anyone who is selling or marketing into the B2B space should be
conversant in all of the new marketing and sales tools at their disposal, one
should not forget the many proven “old school” techniques. Using these techniques in conjunction with modern
marketing and sales tools, can add to the effectiveness and efficiency of your
overall sales and marketing efforts.