7 Sales Trends We Should Leave Behind in 2014

December 30, 2014

You’re closing out another year in B2B sales and you know what that means — it’s officially time to go out with the old and in with the new.

Between hitting your Q4 goals, having year-end reviews, and planning for 2015, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate what actually went well and where you and your team can stand to improve. A great way to do that is by making your own professional New Years resolution list, and here’s a good place to start — promising to leave these played out and outdated sales trends behind in 2014.

1) Using “re:” in your email

No one likes a sneaky fox. So don’t be one. Honesty is almost always the best policy. Using “re:” as a way to engage someone or trick them into opening your email is downright devious, and it does nothing but make me as a prospect think that you are a liar. That’s not the foot you want to start off on at all. Let’s all be authentic and honest in 2015. Use “re:” for continuous email correspondence only (or do yourself even more of a solid and pick up the phone, instead!).

2) Pretending that alligators actually eat people

Alligators aren’t eating any of your leads. If they were, that would probably be a good excuse for them not to reply to your most recent email or return that last phone call. Let the alligators be. If you want to break up with your leads, I’m totally cool with that. But please, let’s leave the alligators and sharknados in the past.

3) Checking in or following up without having anything valuable to say

I’ve said it before I will say it again — you can’t call to simply “follow up” with or “check-in” on a prospect. Adding value is a must. Consider it your role to provide enough value to get their attention and generate enough interest to move to the next buying stage, regardless of where they are in the sales funnel.

4) Hoping “all is well”

This is what I like to call a weak opener. “Hope all is well!” “How are you?” “How’s the weather there?” Let’s be honest, nobody has time for that, and asking those questions do not help you “build rapport” with your prospects. Actually, it does the opposite. Ingratiate yourself by having a reason to call, and getting right to the point. Try something like, “The reason for my call today is…”

5) Using pictures, pets, or stalking as a reason to talk

Just because someone posts pictures of their dog on twitter or discusses their most recent trip to Italy doesn’t mean it’s fair game to leverage for your prospecting and sales efforts. Unless you know the person personally or they mentioned any of the former to you directly, you have absolutely no reason or right to bring it up to them. Why? Well, first of all, you look like a stalker. Secondly, unless their dog directly impacts your technology mentioning “Rufus” or “Buddy” does absolutely nothing to increase the likelihood of the deal closing.

6) Forcing people to scroll more than once

If I have to scroll more than once on my smartphone, it’s probably safe to say that I am not reading your email. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s just the truth. Everyone is busy. Everyone has his or her own set of priorities, and the reality is sales reps are probably at the bottom of that list. Do yourself and your prospects a favor — if you are going to take some of their airtime, be sure your message is short and sweet. Hot tip from one of our favorite sales experts, Jeff Hoffman: Write your email from your smartphone as a way to ensure it’s crisp and concise.

7) Getting cute and overdoing it with your subject lines

In case you forgot, you’re in sales not in marketing. Sure, it’s your job to keep the creative juices flowing and iterate on your approach, but let’s leave those snazzy subject lines to the creative professionals. If you are sending an email, keep it simple — use the subject line to tell your prospect why you are reaching out. Ex: “Your article in …” “Your quote on…” etc. Whatever the reason, convey that in the subject line. Word to the wise: The more specific you can be, the better.
What outdated, ineffective sales trends and tactics would you like to see left behind in 2014? Let me know in the comments.

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<strong>CeCe Bazar</strong> is an Associate on OpenView's investment team. She was previously a Sales Strategist also at OpenView.