1 Key Lesson For Sales in 2018
While at Nudge.ai we’re wary of the typical ‘delusions of grandeur’ that seem to surround New Year’s resolutions, we do think this time of year is a good opportunity to reflect on a lesson or two from the past year and then to set achievable goals. So we’re kicking off the New Year with some thoughts on how to make sales in 2018 even more successful than ever.
In 2015, I discussed what we can learn and do better as startups. For 2016, I talked about “network clarity” – how we keep track of our networks and find the right moments to reach out and build relationships.
2017 was a big year for us, officially launching our AI.
This year, I want to share with you the main lessons we learned in 2017 and the lesson we’re taking from it as we look towards sales in 2018.
It is this: now that buyers are in control, we have created a sales process that focuses on building relationships rather than simply hustling to close deals.
Why “Hustle” Has Reached Its Limit
If you haven’t picked up on it yet from following Nudge.ai: while we work as hard as anyone out there, we believe there are diminishing returns to the dogma of hustle that seems to pervade sales.
Hustle now seems to mean:
- Automated outreach through 100s of campaigns or 1000s of auto-dials
- List building and scraping to find 1000s of – potential – leads
- Working the most hours, sleeping the least
- Retargeting the crap out of anyone who visits your website or interacts with your content
- Writing LinkedIn poetry and high clickbait articles
All of these activities did once yield results, but they aren’t the core of sales and marketing. That core is providing value and, in doing so, generating deals. The “hustle” tactics don’t do that, which is why buyer frustration is growing. Amidst a growing orchestra of noise and spam, buyers are tuning out.
Let’s face it: for the last few years, we’ve over-indexed on ‘hustling’ by ramping up mass automated sales outreach, robocalls, and maximizing volume. Yet we know that 50% of that prospecting time alone is unproductive. We’re kidding ourselves. And that is so much potential time to instead be spent securing real attention from the decision-makers who matter.
So where should sales in 2018 go from here?
Relationship Building Over Buyer Hustling
Well, what automation can’t do is build personal and deep relationships. That’s why at Nudge.ai, we are focusing on a “build” sales strategy instead of a “hustle” strategy. The key tenets are:
- Value: Look for a way to help each person you are beginning to build a relationship with. A 30-minute sales call is not value.
- Long-Term: Relationships take a while to build. Think of communicating every few weeks or months, not 18 times in 24 days.
- Selfless: Start with them, not you. Know what is going on in your prospect’s business, their career, their industry, or their city. Find a reason to reach out based on that knowledge.
- Supportive: Understand what’s important to your buyers – celebrate it, cheer them on.
- Non-transactional: Build relationships that are not tied to immediate deals that you are hoping to close.
- Daily: Invest in building your relationships every single day.
Smart sales professionals will recognize that in 2018 they need to be more human and less machine. And we look forward to helping sales be more human by augmenting sales capabilities with AI. We will help reps minimize grunt work and research with insights, and to help managers and VPs hone in on deals at risk and opportunities to improve relationships.
Why We Need To Adjust Before It’s Too Late
The main reason that ‘hustlers’ need to adjust their strategies and careers is that you can’t out-hustle AI. And make no mistake, AI is here, and it’s learning. Already, AI can research better, crunch numbers faster, and even now, recognize personality traits and personalize outreach to an impressive degree. AI can send more emails, make more calls, and do better analytics than your best prospectors and operations professionals. It’s clear that the advent of AI is deeply shifting the role that a salesperson needs to play from hustler to builder – or put differently.
In the age of automation and AI, salespeople need to gravitate towards building and leave the “hustling” to the machines.