Sales in 2018 – The Blowback Against “Hustle”

 In #HoldTheHustle

The message has been loudly articulated for a few years: all you need to do is “Hustle” and you’ll have success in sales.  Tools, processes, and measurement systems were built out to optimize for it.  More emails, more voicemails, more persistence.  It was touted as an easy path to success.

But is “hustling” our buyers the right thing?

It was easy to justify in 2015 and 2016 based on one thing – it worked.  However, in 2017, that changed.  It stopped working.  Enough buyers had seen the “did you get my last email?”, “just wanted to bump this to the top of your inbox”, “are you trapped under a rock”, and every other trick.  The tricks began to fail.  

The more the tricks stopped working, the more sales management increased outreach volume to make up for it.  The spam algorithms started to pick up on the approach and then this, taken just now in my SPAM folder:

Sales Outreach in the Spam Folder

So, as we enter 2018 we, as a sales profession, are caught between advances in artificial intelligence on two fronts:

First, if all we are looking to do is “hustle” and send increased volumes of undifferentiated, formulaic content to our buyers, AI will be better than humans at that task.  

Second, the more we do this, the more the AI that differentiates spam from real content will immediately eliminate it.  

This is on top of the challenge that most executives we’ve spoken to for our #HowIBuy series have commented that they are able to “sniff” this type of email in half a second.

So if “Hustle” with its mandate of high-volume, undifferentiated outreach, is doomed to die in 2018, what will the year bring?  

My prediction is simple.  This year we begin to “Hold the Hustle” and think of our buyers first.  

     Add value.  

          Think long term.  

               Be selfless.  

                    Stay in touch.  

                         Act daily.  

It’s “building” not “hustling” – and it’s how relationships are created.  We will need to change our tooling, our measurements, and our thinking.  It will be hard to move from hustling to building in 2018, but we will do it.  Not because it is kinder to our buyers and the right thing to do (although that is certainly correct).  

We’ll do it because it will be the only thing that drives sales.

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Experienced SaaS CTO. Founded and guided the building of Eloqua to a market leading position in Marketing Automation. Now Co-founder and CTO at Nudge. Author of the book “Digital Body Language" with a passion for innovation, cloud computing and software evolution.
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