The Young Entrepreneur Council asked 10 successful young entrepreneurs to name one business development or marketing strategy that companies are still using, but that is annoying, irrelevant, or simply out of date. Here are their best answers.
1. You're cold calling? That's not hot.
More importantly, cold calling with blind intent. When marketing your product or service, don't pick up the phone and spit out a sales pitch. Research potential partners, clients, and consumers, and tailor your pitch to them. The spray and pray, quantity-over-quality approach rarely—if ever—works in today's crowded and innovative marketplace.
—Matt Cheuvront, Proof Branding
2. You're still prioritizing sales over success.
Customer retention and loyalty are all the rave now. When businesses focus only on sales and fail to provide adequate post-sale service, customers will never return again. But if a business goes above and beyond to ensure their products continue to satisfy their customers, the returns are unbelievable.
—Danny Wong, Blank Label Group
3. You're still serving spam!
Fifteen years ago, we all looked forward to the words "You've got mail!" Every email was precious, even if it was from a business trying to sell us something. Nowadays, due to the sheer volume of emaiIs we receive, it's a struggle to read every subject line. Yet businesses still send cold emails rather than spending 10 minutes on LinkedIn to look for a qualified introduction. —Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh
4. You're fixated on the clock.
Companies can no longer view business development as a 9-to-5 job. More than ever, BD professionals tirelessly look for opportunities to further the business. Online media has bolstered this trend. BD professionals are using their personal social networks to bolster their business responsibilities too. BD is no longer confined to office hours.
—Doreen Bloch, Poshly
5. You put it in snail mail.
I can't think of a single time in my entire life that I've received something unsolicited in the mail and actually purchased the product or service Perhaps if I sign up for something in the tech space, and other tech companies reach out, that's at least a little targeted. But the random mass mailings are a complete waste.
—Justin Beegel, Infographic World
6. You go by the script.
This mostly comes down to outdated over-the-top sales pitch language. You see it in the retail industry as well as larger organizations that supply their sales teams with scripted programs to sell. Social media has changed the way that we connect, so when people are approached in this outdated style, they really don't like it. Sales teams should learn to connect to people, not sell people.
—Caitlin McCabe, Real Bullets Branding
7. You're selling specs rather than vision.
Simon Sinek nailed this in his book, Start With Why. People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. This is the single most profound and useful concept my business partner and I learned in 2011. So many companies are focused on the what—the features and stats—when all the customer wants is to feel good about what you do. They must believe what you believe. Sell the vision, not the specs.
—Scott Dinsmore, Live Your Legend
8. You're promoting, not providing.
Managers can be under tremendous pressure and the front line sales people are forced to meet expectations at the cost of the customer experience. I would contend that marketing and selling is simply an effort to find those who are already looking for your services or product. Focus on quality and you won't have to twist any arms. Less promoting, more providing.
—Evan Kirkpatrick, Wendell Charles Financial
9. You're trying to be first in the phone book.
Many individuals that practice within what I call "referral" industries, or verticals such as law, medical, and insurance still try and use cold networking to drive new business. Unfortunately, when people search for a doctor, lawyer, or insurance agent they seek out a referral from a trusted friend or family member. Businesses in these industries should develop a referral building strategy.
—Benjamin Leis, Sweat EquiTees
10. You're using social media like a machine.
How many times have you seen a business try to get social, by setting up a Twitter or Facebook account, only to simply schedule advertising messages? Then they wonder why it isn't working! Social media is about engagement—people don't want to see only ads related to your business. That's what TV is for!
—Brad Kendall, Digihedron