Old School vs. Modern: Coaching Your Sales Team for Today’s Buyer

Rob Danna
Rob Danna

side by side comparison of old vs new sales techniques

There are a few universal truths when it comes to sales: timing is everything, people hate being sold to, and “coffee is for closers.” OK—maybe that last one only applies to Shelley “The Machine” Levene, but you get the idea.

If you've been in sales very long, you've probably heard this from someone. It represents the old school sales culture—and may have even led to success for some—but the world has changed and the sales profession must evolve with it for continued success.

Take a look at some other ideas and sayings from the old school of thought and how these things are addressed by today’s modern sales rep.

talk bubbles with comparison of sales techniques

Knowing the what challenges a prospective client is facing is something you need to know long before you pick up the phone. Research is a must prior to the call. Take the time to delve deeper into your prospect’s situation. When recommendations are data-driven you can guarantee your performance.

graphic comparing asking for time vs presenting experience

No relevant meeting ever has taken only 15 minutes, and your email recipient knows that all too well. It’s simple—clients want to work with experts.

graphic comparing thinking like a product vs thinking like an investment

When you go through a list of pricing, benefits, features, etc. may help show your customers that you listened to their wants and needs. But it isn’t enough. Great reps are having cash flow, beta and net present value conversations—if you’re talking cost you’re lost. 

graphic comparing listening vs speaking

Sales reps used to listen with the intent to respond, resulting in the “always selling” reputation. This is a huge turnoff for clients. Selling is more solution-focused than ever before. You have to ask pertinent questions that pull out relevant information to make 100% sure you understand your prospect’s situation before you begin making any sort of recommendation.

graphic comparing powerpoint to data insights

PowerPoint leads to bad places and disconnected audience. Rather you should display an insatiable curiosity for the persona and business you’re talking to. Those who invest in big data and advanced analytics often achieve up to 10% sales growth, up to 5% higher return on sales and a margin uplift of 1–2%.

graphic comparing boring vs. impactful presentation

When you lack the ability to be concise and succinct, you jeopardize your credibility, your message and your reputation. The best part of any sales dialogue is when the client is talking. Define your company values so there are no assumptions. Your EVP must be unique, relevant and compelling if it’s to act as a key driver of talent attraction, engagement and retention.

graphic comparing cold calling to internet tools

While the cold call isn’t dead yet, there are better ways to conduct this outreach. Do research to offer up a compelling reason for your initial call, work inbound leads that want to talk to you and provide helpful insights to potential prospects before engaging. Better yet, leverage a combination of marketing automation and warm calling to generate opportunities, not leads. Modern networking is a combination of technology, showing up and being where people are looking.  Nobody is waiting for your call—they’ll call you if they find you relevant.

account management vs business success advisors

Gone are the days of traditional QBRs—today it’s about trends, insights and areas for opportunities. Data visualization technologies can replace the old school Account Manager, but nobody can replace relevant, insightful advice. Success advisors combine data, insight and ideas to continuously improve the solution over time. Trust is built when you help. And only after you’ve proven you can help solve their specific business issues will you be able to cross-sell. 

transactional vs consultative sales process

When you’re driven by discounts and price, you’re ensuring a short-term relationship. Modern day sales reps strategically utilize specific questions to engage with a potential client, build rapport with them and request feedback. Based on the feedback, the sales rep can customize a long-term, data-driven solution.

graphic showing word of mouth marketing

The ultimate goal that doesn’t go out of style, word of mouth is still the best form of marketing—even more so today thanks to social media and influencers.

always be closing gif


Selling today looks very different than the days of, “ABC. 'A', always. 'B', be. 'C', closing. ALWAYS BE CLOSING. Always be closing.” Buyers have changed, the buyer’s journey has transformed and top salespeople have to change with them.

To keep up with the ever-changing world of sales, review our list of top sales training resources

Rob Danna

Rob Danna

With a 25-year background in technology and sales management, Rob brings real-world performance improvement solutions to hundreds of large companies. As Vice President of Sales and Marketing at ITA Group, he prides himself by staying on the front lines of performance improvement technology and innovation.