Is your sales approach outdated?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Over the past three decades, selling has evolved tremendously, but not all salespeople have kept pace. Today there remain three generations of sales methodologies in play.

“Legacy”, the oldest methodology, is nearing fifty years of use. Originating in the 1960s to 1970s, Legacy was most effective for about twenty years. 

The second method to evolve was a direct response to the limitations of the Legacy method. During the 1980s through to the early 2000s, customer needs and demands began shifting dramatically. The requirement for greater sales guidance and support coupled with more competition saw the development of “Solution-Based Selling”. 

Salespeople stepped into an advisory role, no longer providing mere products or services but real solutions to real business problems. 

Similarly to the two preceding methods, a third method has evolved to sync with the world, technology and customer demands as they exist today in the twenty-first century.

Which generation of sales methods are you using?

Many salespeople and even sales leaders do not realise they are using outdated methodologies. However, a Legacy sales approach is straightforward. Sales questions such as “May I ask you a question?” or “What is the greatest challenge your business/industry is facing right now?” scream Legacy and indicate poor sales training.

Unfortunately, many salespeople new to the profession are unaware of the various generations of sales methodologies. Therefore, they are unaware that their methods could stifle their success.

Six indicators that your sales approach is “Legacy”:

  1. During your first interaction with a prospect, you qualify them using popular acronyms such as BANT.
  2. Your approach suggests that you start with the C-suite or a person whose title suggests they are the decision-maker.
  3. Your approach starts with a conversation about your company, clients, results, and solution to gain credibility.
  4. You relay information from your organisation’s website.
  5. You spend time in early conversations making a case for your company and your solution.
  6. You focus on objection handling whilst silencing your prospects’ challenges. 

Of course, exceptions exist to using some of the above methodologies, such as the need to qualify a prospect. However, the more methods you employ, the greater the odds are that your approach is Legacy.

Seven indicators that your sales approach is “Solution-Based”:

  1. You start with rapport-building.
  2. Your early talk tracks fixate on “why us” and “why our solution”.
  3. Your training focuses on telling your organisation’s story and on explaining the features, benefits and advantages of your offering. 
  4. You use tactics that encourage prospects to tell you their problem, to which you illustrate how their current solution (or lack thereof) harms them.
  5. You follow a linear sales process and expect a set outcome at each stage.
  6. Your objective is to demonstrate the advantages of your solution to prospects.
  7. The only changes your customers make after purchasing with you are their supplier and solution.

Again, not one of these alone indicates that your sales approach is “Solution-Based”. However, the more points you presently leverage, the less effective your results will be. 

Seven indicators of a “Modern” sales approach

  1. Your early talk tracks are centred around why your client needs to change, and you provide demonstratable evidence of what causes their less-than-optimal performance.
  2. You have a well-developed theory about your prospective client’s challenges based on your independent research and findings.
  3. Your knowledge levels regarding what your prospect must do to improve their results supersede your prospects’ knowledge levels. 
  4. Regardless of where your prospect is in the purchase path, your agile strategy enables you to aid their process, including consensus building.
  5. The role you play with your prospect becomes less ‘salesperson’ and more ‘trusted advisor’ as you guide them toward a paradigm shift. 
  6. You can effectively manage and address your prospect’s concerns.
  7. As a result of your guidance, your prospect makes changes within their organisation beyond simply changing suppliers and solutions.

What decision-makers and leaders need from salespeople

Today, a modern approach to sales is required to meet the often complex needs of decision-makers and buyers. The Legacy approach, though still taught today, is inadequate.

Adopting a modern approach to sales gives salespeople a considerable advantage over competitors using Legacy methodologies.

Leaders do not see value in salespeople who ask about their problems. To excel today, salespeople must provide value beyond a standalone solution. Decision makers value salespeople with the ability to determine the nature of their less-than-optimal results and provide insight into how to transform their business challenges effectively. Leaders today seek, value, and ultimately choose to do business with salespeople who embody the role of trusted advisor.

Improve your sales strategy with Resonate

We specialise in enabling the success of B2B sales organisations. We guide you throughout the sales process. We help develop the sales strategy and an associated plan that converts the strategy to execution so your organisation can get predictable revenue over the coming quarters and years.

We also provide ongoing advisory and consulting services to ensure your strategy and plan become a reality. We focus on helping the sales organisation achieve its quota and meet targets predictably and consistently.
Please visit our B2B Sales page for more on our sales solutions.

RK is the CEO & Co-Founder of Resonate.

RK is Resonate’s chief strategist, thought leader, and IT industry veteran. Our clients depend on RK to advise on their business strategy, channel strategy, and sales strategy. 

Let's Connect