7 Outdated Sales Tactics That No Longer Work

Outdated sales tactics video

Bud Chapplain
Bud Chapplain

I have worked in sales for most of my life, selling encyclopedias, cookware, and software, amongst others. (In fact, I met my business partner, Wayne Burgan, many moons ago when I was a regional manager for Encyclopaedia Britannica in Australia.) Along the way, I have experienced and used many sales tactics that work, and I have also been exposed to those that don’t work, particularly as times have changed.

I have used high-pressure sales tactics to close sales as well as the “I am going to give you the kitchen sink if you say ‘yes’ tonight, technique.”

There was a time and place for that kind of selling. However, in today’s world, selling is a different animal, as outlined in our customer-focused sales series.

So, I will give you seven old-school outdated sales tactics to avoid, as they will do more harm than good.

Old-School Sales Tactics to Avoid

1. Cold Calling

My first sales job was selling Encyclopaedia Britannica.

I was excited to do this because educational research tools like the “Internet” were not around, and I was told during the interview that there were no “door-to-door” sales.

I recall very clearly the shock I had when the sales manager took out this big book, carefully cut out a page, and gave it to me. He told me that these people were dying to talk to me.

Sure enough, it was a regular phone book.

Cold calling worked, mainly because telemarketing was only in its infancy, and people answered the phone back then.

So, offers of a “special gift”, “4 days, 3 nights free vacation”, and many other variations really excited people.

Prospects were almost always home. People were very trustworthy, believed in one another, and answered their phones, as I have already said.

Today the opposite applies, making this type of marketing very difficult, if not nearly impossible, and it causes potentially good customers to be put off and react negatively to your brand and success.

The truth is that in today’s marketing world, you should not be wasting time on the phone but spending that time on creating inbound marketing leads.

Ok, I know that you still have to do prospecting. However, try “warm calling” – a method that encourages contacting inbound leads, which are people who have a desire to speak with you. These people have expressed an interest in your product or service through your broader marketing efforts, such as interactions on social media.

2. “Tell Them and Sell Them” – Not Anymore

I remember when we had sales meetings, the sales manager would always end the session with the words, “tell them and sell them.”

Our sales pitch contained countless places where we told the customers what they should be thinking, because we had all the answers.

In today’s world, that does not fly. So instead, we want to create a relationship with the customer where you ask questions, discover their wants and needs, and help the customer through the decision-making process.

3. Stop Selling Products and Start Selling Solutions

The secret for selling today is to stop being a salesperson and become a solution solver.

Today’s customer usually knows more about your product or service than you could imagine, and therefore gets bored listening to anything but “how” you will solve their problem.

Overselling your product or overpromising to the customer is highly not advised. It usually will come back to bite you in the butt.

Products that do not live up to customer expectations are quickly returned, and by doing so, the happy customer becomes a disgruntled one, and your reputation becomes tarnished.

4. Ditch the Pitch

I can’t believe that buyers actually had the patience to listen to those old-school “canned presentations” that companies forced their salespeople to learn. While it may have been a good old-school business strategy to “give the spiel,” in today’s marketplace, the customer almost always knows the bells and whistles.

Ditch the pitch and put your energies toward understanding customers’ challenges.

The best-selling technique here is to simply engage prospects in a conversation about what they’re looking to accomplish—and ultimately determine if there’s a fit.

5. Ignoring the Prospect Relationship

Here are the bare facts about selling in 2022:

  1. The whole world exists online, and
  2. Your digital reputation is with you forever.

These are the modern-day laws that set the tone for all business relationships.

You never had to worry about these so much in the past, but they do govern selling today. It is your choice to either embrace or ignore them.

Many old-school sales and marketing pitches were designed to ignore the prospect relationship and focus on product features and benefits.

Today if you ignore the relationship, you stand an excellent chance of losing the customer altogether.

You are only as strong as the network you own. So, if you think of every prospect as your goldmine and not as someone you can help to resolve issues with, you will find that your core value will diminish. In this current marketplace, the consumer can smell “a con” from a mile away.

If you ignore what your prospect truly needs and only think of them as a number on a paycheck, you’ll steadily lose value as a salesperson.

Don’t think that slamming a deal through won’t come back to bite you. Do it enough, and you’ll have unhappy prospects steering their networks away from you.

6. Cranking Up the Pressure

Customers can no longer be pressured into making a decision. There are so many options for the buyer to choose from these days that using old-school sales tactics like cranking up the pressure and other such manipulation tactics is a sure way to lose a sale.

No one wants to be bullied into buying. Most modern buyers say they’re not interested in doing business with the old-school high-pressure salespeople and are looking for a coach or guide to lead them through a transparent buying journey, working with the salesperson to solve their issues.

7. Less Talk, More Action

With the boom of programs like Zoom, where the buyer and seller meet online in real-time, keep the initial chatter to a minimum and get to the point. The customers in today’s marketplace don’t care who won the “game” last night; they are focused on getting down to business. They want value.

Especially millennial buyers. They will have researched many products like yours, and they want to get the decision-making process asap.

An article from Forbes Magazine states that rapport building is not what the customer wants, and if they do, they want it to be quick. The prospect wants you to jump right in and focus all your attention on problem-solving

This selling technique is far more effective at increasing sales than any casual conversation about sports or the weather could ever be.

That’s not to say that rapport-building is not important. You just have to be smart at it.


The facts are pretty transparent here. Here is a piece of advice to close a deal in today’s marketplace. You need to realize that helping someone who might buy, turn into someone ready to buy, is now a journey you take together with the customer.

Be a helper, and a problem solver, and stop using outdated sales tactics that don’t work anymore.

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