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Stand out from the crowd with “old fashioned” selling techniques

There seems to have been a surge in digital marketing workshops this last few years, teaching us how to ‘use’ social media to grow our business. Digital marketing is important – but it’s just one marketing strategy. It’s not very effective at helping build sales or growth in a business without a wider strategy in place.

The main benefits of modern digital marketing platforms are the ability to identify prospects and to make more ‘noise’.  Both these outcomes are certainly helpful but we still need to be able to know how to convert a prospect or lead into a client. This is why we still need so-called old fashioned selling techniques.

Internet-based marketing (your website, emails, social media) is just a modern replacement for the same things we did years ago: your website is the digital equivalent of your brochure, your emails replace direct mail, your social platforms replace PR and networking.

Some people do buy directly from a Facebook ad or your website or in response to an email, but it’s becoming more and more difficult to stand out and be noticed in the crowded digital world we have now. So genuinely old fashioned sales and marketing techniques have started to be used again because they’re ‘new’ to the current generation and actually mean you can stand out against the digital noise on the internet.

There are sales training organisations now that focus on old fashioned selling techniques – training a new generation of salespeople on the old topics of reading body language, sales closing techniques, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), asking great questions and many more.

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Here are some examples of old fashioned selling techniques that could work for your business:

Phone – Mail – Phone (PMP)

PMP involves picking up the phone to have a conversation. But it’s not cold calling! You phone your prospect because you want to introduce yourself and ask for their permission to send you something through the post. This could be a letter inviting them to an event or a hard copy brochure. This also gives you the opportunity to make sure you have the correct name and postal address of the intended recipient. Then you mail out your invitation or brochure, wait a couple of days and follow up with a second phone call. The follow up is crucial and is what will set you apart from the rest.

The post-it-note technique

You can mix up digital marketing with old fashioned techniques. For example, if your digital marketing has identified a potential sales prospect, one challenge you face is how to follow this up.  Simply calling them and explaining that you’re calling because you noticed that they clicked on a link in your email is a bit too ‘stalker-like’ for most people!

A more subtle technique could be to use the PMP method above but include a genuine handwritten note on a post-it-note stuck to the front cover of the brochure and a handwritten envelope. This will pretty much guarantee you that the prospect won’t bin your brochure and therefore you’ll achieve a better response on the follow-up calls.

Handwritten letters

Continuing the theme of making it personal, a great old fashioned technique is to send a handwritten letter to your prospect (yes, you write it out with a real pen on real paper, use a real envelope and a real stamp – remember them!). People rarely receive letters through the post these days, let alone handwritten letters. They will be genuinely amazed and pleased to receive one. Make sure you follow this up with a phone call of course.

Lumpy mail (the buzz bomb)

Most businesses have ‘dream prospects’ who, if only they could win the business of the prospect, would be sufficient to transform their fortunes.  The problem with these dream prospects is that you simply can’t get to talk to the right person – they’re normally guarded by a “gatekeeper”.

Lumpy mail or the buzz bomb is a mechanism to attempt to create such a buzz or noise in your prospect’s office that you bypass the gatekeepers and impress the main contact to the point that they ensure your call gets through.

The idea is that you use your creativity and fun to come up with a relevant ‘gift’ that is eye-catching and impressive and will, when wrapped, create lumpy mail.  This can be ‘quirky’ with a clever promotional message. We knew someone who once sent the right arm of a mannequin to her dream prospect with the message attached, “I’d give my right arm to work with you”.

Wrap your gift up with brown paper and hairy string, handwrite the name and address and use proper stamps for the postage (and take it to the Post Office to get special delivery, but remember the stamps are important!).

Upon receipt, the gatekeeper won’t dare open this package because it looks like the decision-maker has ordered something online. Instead, it’s passed unopened to your prospect for them to open personally.  Imagine the anticipation for your prospect – they rarely receive packages, they don’t know what it is and it doesn’t look like marketing material so it takes priority. If you’ve got your gift right, they should be impressed and enjoy the ‘experience’ of receiving it.  Even better, they recognise the effort you’ve put in and show it to their gatekeepers (the buzz is then working) and your bomb has gone off.  If you call 24 hours later, you’ve got a very high chance of speaking to the prospect and arranging a meeting.

Business networking

Word-of-mouth has always been a standard mechanism for sales and new business development and, of course, Facebook and LinkedIn aim to create communities (social and business) you can use to facilitate word-of-mouth recommendations. A problem with anything digital is its ‘ephemeral’ nature and most people who try to use social platforms for their business have extremely shallow relationships with their connections or so-called friends.

However, genuine, face-to-face networking is increasingly popular and with new organisations setting up to offer slightly different formats, there’s a meeting to suit everyone.  So, if you want to build your network of connections, go networking consistently and regularly, give someone an old fashioned handshake, meet their eyes and smile. You can’t get more old fashioned than that!

If you’re looking to really stand out from the crowd, consider the old fashioned selling techniques that businesses used 30 years ago – fashion is always cyclical and it’s time to get old fashioned!

Straight talking on Old fashioned selling techniques from Yorkshire Powerhouse

You’ve read our thoughts on old fashioned selling techniques – have you any questions?

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