Over the last few years within the B2B sales world, the notion that tech-powered new school strategies and techniques are here to conquer the old school has been getting a good deal of buzz. It’s this idea that we’re at a fork in the road and one of them dead-ends. But we believe that instead of a fork, we are at an intersection. The B2B sales world isn’t at a place of A or B choice, but one of blending. B2B sales leaders that adapt to the new school while blending in the old school tactics that actually really matter are the ones that are going to find the most success.
Here’s how to do it…
Defining the Schools of B2B Sales
Before you blend your whiskeys you want to understand them as individuals, right? The same goes for old and new school sales strategies, especially when you consider how much disinformation there is about each.
Old school sales isn’t a Rolodex, an office phone or GlenGarry Glen Ross. Old school sales is built on the intangibles. One of our customer success managers here at Journey Sales talks about how his dad, a lifelong salesman (and a darn good one at that) attributes his success to being a good salesman. He listens. He remembers names and the names of family members. He takes the time to know what a client likes and what will rub them the wrong way. He pays attention to context and behaviors. He solves problems. The old school sales pro is part HR expert, part psychiatrist, part psychologist (they’re different!), part problem solver, part champion, part observer… you get the idea. The point though is that these are the qualities of successful old school sales—and they are as relevant today as they were 40 years ago.
On the flip side, is the new school. Some view new school sales as silly and a waste of time. You can’t sell on social media. You can’t sell with a smartphone. You can’t sell to someone without ever meeting them face-to-face. This perception is equally wrong. New school B2B sales is about digital engagement and speed. It’s about knowing what information to use to engage a customer or prospect and when to use it. It’s about understanding your prospect’s digital body language so that you can create the buyer journey they demand.
Blending the Old School and the New School
Blending the old and new schools of B2B sales isn’t so much of a tactical thing; it’s more of an approach. We’re not saying new school sales pros need to go out and take some golf lessons. Nor are we suggesting that those of the old school need to bail on their strong suits and sign up for every social platform out there. We are saying that those from each school should acknowledge and embrace the value of the other. Those of the old school should take the time to learn and use digital technologies that can help them do more. Similarly, the new school should do the same when it comes to refining old school intangibles like listening and problem solving and trust.
What Does a Successful Blend Look Like?
The blended old school-new school B2B sales pro understands their customer’s business and proposes new—and contextual—insights. They are not working (aka, harassing) to “get a meeting.” The successful “blended” focuses on aligning with the customer’s priorities, not their own. They leverage digital tools to engage with more customers, concurrently while still maintaining authenticity. Bottom line: the B2B sales professionals that successfully blend the old and new school are those that commit to managing customer lifecycles instead of simply viewing things through the “sales opportunity” lens.