The world is changing quickly. Information is beamed into our brains every time we check our phones or laptops. And each time we look, it seems like there’s some new trend on the horizon.
The sales community isn’t immune from these rapid changes that come with contemporary life, even if many of the fundamentals of the profession have remained the same for decades. But this doesn’t mean that every trend is good, or that it’ll last. In fact, there have been plenty of promising developments and predictions over the last 20 years that have either fizzled or turned out to be completely off the mark.
Some trends and predictions might sound attractive, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stand the test of reality. The following four seem to have caught fire over the last few years, but you’d be best served to avoid them if you want to make the most of your sales career.
1. Salary-only sales positions
As frustrating as the rollercoaster ride of sales is, it’s a mistake to abandon the unlimited potential of commission income for the safe haven of a flat salary. From an employee’s perspective, it might sound good to know exactly how much money you’re going to make every month. But unless you’re not meant to be in sales to begin with, when you compare a pre-set salary to what you could have made in commissions or a combination base-plus-commission plan, it’s unlikely the salary would be better. And, from an employer’s perspective, offering a straight salary virtually eliminates any incentive for salespeople to push to close more business. It’s a lose-lose.
2. No more outbound prospecting
The death of outbound prospecting has been greatly exaggerated. In fact, there are companies whose products are designed to eliminate outbound prospecting even though they have dedicated outbound sales teams! Not many people enjoy the grind out outbounding, but it’s still one of the most reliable ways to build a pipeline and close deals. Aggressive prospecting can (and should) be complimented by a comprehensive inbound lead generation strategy, but to say that it can be eliminated by the latter is wishful thinking. Like most things in life, there are no shortcuts.
3. Personal branding as a substitute for relationship building
Andy Warhol once said that in the future, everyone would have their 15 minutes of fame. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and smartphones came along and proved him mostly right. There’s a segment of the sales community that preaches thought-leadership and personal branding as the ticket to massive sales success. To be sure, if you do it properly, it can’t hurt. But time spent trying to break through the noise and become the next Gary Vee is time not spent picking up the phone and reaching out to potential prospects. Maybe one out of a thousand salespeople can become the go-to leaders in their space, but the rest of us are better off focusing on building our pipelines, not our collection of headshots.
4. Sales roles at companies that claim to not have salespeople
In an attempt to endear themselves to customers who have a distaste for salespeople, some companies have renamed their sales teams and present themselves as “no-pressure” organizations who refuse to capitulate to the traditional way of doing things. Without getting into the approach itself, it makes little sense for a salesperson to join one of these companies. They are broadcasting that their culture doesn’t value sales, not only to the general public, but to you, a potential employee, as well. Sales is difficult enough when you do have support, but when you don’t, it becomes almost impossible. Choose a position where you and your profession will be treated with the respect you deserve, otherwise, what’s the point?