There is significant change between selling in 1990s vs 2020. Buyers have changed. Today a buyer can buy almost anything from the web without talking to sales rep. Here’s a list of pushy and hard sales tactics.

So you need a different set of skill set in 2020 to become a top performer. But old habits and sales tactics would push you back rather than help you progress. These sales tactics has to be abandoned now.

Let us take you through these old sales tactics one by one and explain you why they don’t work today? What to do instead?


Sales Tactics No 1:Cold calling via elevator pitch. 

Have you been cold called in last 6 months? Did you enjoy the experience? Did you get to learn anything new? Isn’t it pathetic being on the other side of the phone? The villain here is “Elevator Pitch”.

In 1990s it used to work. Not now.

Let me present you an example of elevator pitch based cold call:

“Hi , I am Abhishek from Standard Chartered bank credit card division. We have a special offer on our credit card…”

Please note that here credit card is just for example sake. It goes same with software development companies selling mobile app and digital marketing as well as Edtech companies calling for admissions or coaching institutes or real estate companies trying for property sales.

What to do instead in 2020?

The alternative is to make segmented elevator pitch that is coupled with business outcome. Let us explain with an example :

“Hi Mr.Joseph. I call you with an assumption. I assume you are an start up entrepreneur. One of the concern we commonly hear from other entrepreneurs is short term cash flow management. We have been able to help them deal with it. Is that something you are keen to know?”

“Hi Mr.Rajiv. I call you with an assumption. Our internal research confirms that you are a newly employed professional. One of the common concern we hear from the other young working professionals is that they aspire to fund a property purchase 2 to 3 years down the line. We have been able to help them deal with it. Is that something you are keen to know about?”

Modern day sales tactic is segmented elevator pitch helps.

Imaginesales Call center dialer helps telesales to implement personalized segmented cold calling.

Sales Tactics No 2: Stop wanting the business. 

This is one of the aggressive sales tactics.

The thinking that goes inside the mental mind of a sales person drives the way they communicate.

If the salesperson is wanting the business more than the prospect wants their problem solved – the salesperson will not be helpful.

He will appear salesy & not trustworthy. This doesn’t mean you won’t close business, because you will. But it won’t be predictable and scalable.

What to do Instead? 

Manufacture helpful sales rep. In 2020 , any sales tactic that is not caring won’t work. The potential buyer can intuitively can discover very quickly that the sales rep is salesy.

The sales tactics in 2020 is to manufacture helpful sales rep. A consultant who can go down to buyers shoes and recommend him the best option with the potential landmine.

Sales Tactics No 3 : Don’t cajole the customer too much.

This is one of the sales manipulation tactics of 1990s. It was common on those days to cajole the potential buyer too much. The thinking goes like this ” they have the money and I want it’ therefore they are in charge”.

So the words are like :

“please call me back”.

“I am very obliged to hear from you”.

All these words gave a clear signal that the salesperson is negotiating or talking from one position down.

What to do Instead?

Potential buyers love to buy from someone equal. A sales rep who believes in personal value & company value. This sales rep doesn’t  talk 75% of the time & listens 25% of the time.

His words are like :

” I appreciate your timely reply.”

” I need to know before I can say we are a good fit.”

Sales Tactics 4:Not Caring about Buyer Journey.

Is the prospect a day or two away from signing the contract or is he 100 days away from it? Traditional sales tactic was to approach all the prospects the same way & not checking where they are in the buyer journey.

Buyer journey represents the general steps through which a potential buyer progresses as he purchases a product. The sales communication details should change based on the where the potential buyer. Let me present with a simple example. Imagine that you are buying a car. Let us see your thoughts when you are 100 days away from buying a car. ” Would I be able to catch my neighbours attention when I buy this car?” Compare the same with your thoughts when you are 5 days away from buying a car. ” Would I get a discount over that seat cover?”

What to do Instead? 

Identify where the customer is in his buyer journey.

Questions like :

“Would you be open to having another way to approach solving the challenge X that you’ve been working on?”

“By when you have to achieve goal x? Why?”

Modern lead management software helps you to manage the lead stages based on the buyer journey stage.

Sales Tactics 5:Recommending not asking. 

“I suggest you should ….”

” I feel you must …”

This is another bad sales tactic example that should be abandoned. 20 years ago sales professionals used to recommend or suggest or tell. Those days customers had no other alternate medium to gain knowledge about the product and services. So the most knowledgeable person in the room was the rep. Today it’s different. Now the customer has more knowledge than the sales person. On internet he gets all the information.

What to do Instead?


Listen to their point of view.

Try to run around their views in your mind.

Then check what is the best way to solve the problem.

Use words like : ” I would like to know your point of view”.

“Many a time my views can be biased. I would like to hear your point of view. It is very important to think through all the potential landmine. There would be no product that is absolute right fit with all the features. You just need to see which ones are less important and which ones are must have.”

Sales Tactics 6:Focusing on Customer Acquisition vs Customer Success. 

The sales organogram was very different 20 years ago. The sales rep only focused on customer acquisition. Once sold the responsibility of supporting the team was passed to another team. The sales rep didn’t care to entertain the call. Before money hits the bank account , the sales person showed lots of caringness. Once paid they avoided accepting the calls. This uncaring sales tactic is not going to work anymore.

The reason being the following:

A) Earlier customers used to feel shy asking tough questions. Today it’s not so. Today eben students interview the institute & teacher before taking an admission. They ask you to introduce to old customers. That to about a number of them. Then they like to talk to them directly one on one to find the details about customer support.

B) Today most companies don’t take one time payment. They are open to monthly payment. That means you have to serve the customer every month to earn the money every month.

C) Today the potential buyers have too many options to buy from.

What to do Instead? 

Good sales tactics is to own the responsibility of customer success. You can still have the support department. But be responsible. Join a company where customer support is good enough.

Be sincere caring.

Sales Tactics 7:

Prospecting team practice solution selling. 

In solution selling the sales rep asks the customer his top challenges. Then he guides the customer in solving those problems.This sales tactics is not going to work in prospecting in 2020. Today customers can travel the buyer’s journey alone using the internet. Hence they will contact a sales rep over internet & take a trial or demo.

Today the battle is not discovering what the customer already knows but by teaching them a new way opt think.  So how do we teach them over a cold call. That is a fantastic question and we have a seperate blog dedicated to this topic.

What to do Instead? 

The sales tactic is to teach the customer a new way to solve their current problem.

For this you need 3 things :

A) Something you have learned about them.

B) How you’ve helped someone else like them.

C) What do you want them to do next?

Questions like :

“Would you be open to hearing another way to approach solving the the challenge X?”

“Most organisation struggle to achieve goal Z by trying to do X. In fact alternative plan Y works better.”

Sales Tactics 8:Trying to close the deal because it’s month end. 

Trying to close the deal now because it’s quarter end is not going to work anymore. ABC = Always be closing. Try to close the deal. Always focus towards closing.

This sales tactic is absolute no no. It doesn’t work any more at all. It rather pushes you back. Any negative influential sales tactic that is used again & again – you will see that human race identifies it & they resist it. This has happened in last 10 years.

  • We no longer believe on Black magic so much.
  • We can identify fake politician faster and better than we could 10 years ago.
  • We identify people dressed & acting as a holy man ( sanyasi) faster.

What to do Instead? 

The best sales tactics is to close a deal is when it is closeable. If all the risk factor of customer is answered & he is convinced – Its ready to close.

Trying to close a deals before that will bounce back. Jumping to conclusions , or rushing to offer the contract is almost perceived as proof that we are more focused on selling something than on customer business goals.

Now the question is how can a sales rep influence the deal so that he can close the deal earlier. From the very early moment when the prospect entered the sales funnel rather than asking yourself : ” What do we need to do to close this deal?” you should rather ask these two questions in sequence:

“What does the customer need to do in  order to buy?”

“What do we need to do to get them do those things?”.


Sales Tactics 9:

“We don’t need a formal sales process. If we hire the right sales talent , we will make our numbers.”

I have seen sales profession very closely for the past 20 years. From the days of door-to-door sales of Eureka Forbes. Those days sales was all about relying on individuals, with their Rolodexes or business cards or past known contacts. This is what Eureka Forbes broke. It taught India , door to door cold knocking. And then came the wave of credit card sales. This can be marked as a movement that is departure from talent of sales people and more towards activity based selling. Earlier it used to be believed that start selling skill is an inborn talent. Hence it was rare.

In past 20 years it changed a lot. First it started with World’s most renowned companies.

Veteran senior executive and former top selling IBM sales rep, Mike Seashols said ” I never needed a sales process; for me ; it was intuitive.”

When he was later promoted as a manager he had said ” I needed to codify what I was doing at each step in the sales process ; so I could ask my sales team to consistently follow my winning formula”.

What to do Instead? 

More relevant sales tactics is to treat sales as science rather than art. The more you rely on the science of selling versus the art, the more success you will achieve. Treating sales as an art will not alone would not guarantee a sales organisation’s success.

Sales is a discipline. You need a repeatable process. Otherwise you will go helter-skelter. If you start with a funnel of 500 accounts; you would like to know what the five, six or seven steps were which would get you to closure. You would also like to know where each of lead were in that process. Then you attach probabilities to closing based on the stage.

A lead management software or Sales CRM is very handy. Imagine sales crm features helps to make sales scientific rather than artistic. Our consulting team can help you create a sales process. We often get compared to other lead management software like Leadsquared. ( You can read this blog where we have deeply compared both us. You can use our comparison chart while talking to our competition sales rep as well. )

Sales Tactics 10:

Hiring large salesforce will automatically make its numbers. 

The old sales tactic was that hiring sales people will help to achieve revenue targets. There are few facts in selling that has not changed in last 100 years. One of them is that, sales need two things : a) generate leads b) convert leads to revenue.

There was a belief that sales rep will be able to generate leads among their friends , past partners and known customers with a minimum help or investment from the company.

We have seen happening practically is that :

A) Sales rep can’t move partners and customers along with them. This is majorly because the support system of the current company keeps these members attached with the company.

B) Experienced & mid aged salespeople are terrible at prospecting.

C) Even if a mid aged salesperson do some prospecting successfully. But as soon as they generate some pipeline, they become too busy to prospect. It’s not sustainable.

Unless you are not selling very very large deals, this mathematics of lead generation is not going to work.

What to do Instead? 

Hiring a multitude of experienced sales person- before you understand your customer buying patterns and the sales process that makes sense – will simply result in burning through the cash faster. A startup or a company entering into a new markets goes through 3 phases- initiation, transition and execution. Keeping sales capacity at right levels while you are testing new markets saves you from cash burn.

Before hiring experienced sales rep you need to stitch two things :

A) Generate predictable amount of lead. Know the mathematics behind effort and amount of lead generated.

B) Consistent sales system to move a prospect from 1st stage to 7th stage.

Sales Tactics 11:

It’s Better to meet customer face to face.

20 years ago sales tactics was only to meet face to face. Modern day it’s very different. Traditional belief system is that you can’t sell to customers unless they are physically sitting in the same room. There are countless example of companies large or small – that have achieved stunning success by selling through web or phone.

What to do Instead?

In Sales 2.0 dictionary , the sales tactics of face to face meeting still has a place.

It is suggested to have face to face meeting when :

A) Prospect request for a field visit &

B) Opportunity size is big enough &

C) the lead is qualified to justify the expense.

Sales Tactics 12:

Executive Team not measuring – “Pipeline Gap”. 

Most of the senior managers or sales rep are busy measuring revenue till date. They also measure revenue gap. But it is not enough. Measuring outcome doesn’t guarantee results. You rather need to measure metrics that is closer to activities or efforts. You might have sales managers to measure them. So we are not recommending executives to go too deep with the metrics.

Pipeline Gap is a wonderful metric that should be measured by owners and executives.

What to do Instead? 

Measure pipeline gap .

How much more qualified pipeline the company needs to generate this month?

This is the #2 most important metric to track , right after closed business.

New pipeline generated per month number should be tracked regularly.

Sales Tactics 13:

Hammering a prospect with too many calls.

Earlier the manager often used to ask : ” Did you call that prospect?” Yes you must follow up leads over phone. Without proper telephonic follow up leads will go waste. The fastest way to lose a deal is not following up. But calling a prospect number of times irritates the other side.

What to do Instead? 

Follow up in a manner to engage people but not irritate them.

So try calling a lead 3 times in 3 days. If he doesn’t answer stop calling & move them to messaging either via email or sms or Whatsapp.

Messages at this stage should be like :

Hi Rajiv,

We had talked & you said you were interested. I have not heard back from you.

I’m sure you have lots going on. Should I assume that now is not a good time to talk about our services. If I’m mistaken & you want to talk , can we talk next week. Otherwise, I won’t bug you further and wish you all the best.

Sales Tactics 14:

Not Listening to Call Recordings. 

I have a question for you? Where does actual selling happens? When the potential customer and sales rep talks. Or when they exchanges messages be it over email or sms or whats app. Have you seen any sports coach not attending or watching the live match.  Then why the same habit is not practiced in managing sales!

Treating sales as art is super old sales tactics. I am not bothered how they speak . I just want them to achieve the sales targets.

With this mindset you will be busy hiring and firing but you will not be able to achieve sales targets. Until you don’t go to the root of the problem and not solve it.

What to do Instead? 

Put aside 3 hours per week on playing call recordings that are more than 2 mins of conversation. 50% of the calls should be of interested customers whereas 50% should of not interested ones. Listen calls of all the sales reps in equal quantity rather than of few particular sales rep. Play the call recording & let one person criticize it and one person appreciate it.

Modern sales dialers enable listening to the recordings as well as filter it in various ways and give your feedback.

Sales Tactics 15:

Manually Following Potential Customers via Emails. 

20 years ago technology was not so advanced. There was very less usage of technology. Most of the things we need to do manually. It takes 5 to 6 follow ups over email to get an reply. This is very time consuming. It is also full of human error. Moreover it made sales rep unproductive. They could manage too few leads.

What to do instead? 

The good sales tactics is to employ technology that has reply detection. A sales crm with reply detection technology can automate follow up. These software can automatically read if a prospect has replied or not. If not replied these software can automatically follow up over email or sms or Whatsapp. You just need to create a series of templates once.

Sales Tactics 16:

Manually Rescheduling for Meetings No Show.

How many times has a potential buyer missed one of your meetings? How much time does that cost you? Is that a waste of resources? Meetings are the most important part of a salesperson’s day, but they’re not effective if you’re the only one on your conference line. 20% to 30% meeting no show rate is standard ( meeting no show means that the potential buyer said he would be available for the meeting at a certain date and time and thereafter he didn’t turn up).

When a prospect doesn’t show up to your meeting, the most important thing you can do is take action as quickly as possible to keep them engaged. But it can be hard to keep track of who doesn’t show, and it’s laborious to manage and log follow up activities.

Spending precious hours going back and forth on scheduling, you’re losing valuable time. Scheduling meetings is an arduous process when both parties are on different Gmail or Outlook orgs and don’t have visibility into each other’s schedules. You can easily go back and forth four or five times before you settle on a call next Tuesday at 11:30.

That is what used to be the sales tactic in 1990s.

What to do Instead?

Automatic rescheduling of meeting.

The software should automatically be alerted that the potential buyer did not turn up for the meeting.

Since he didn’t turn up, the software can automatically follow up over sms , whatsapp and email. It will request the potential buyer to choose alternate date and time to schedule the meeting. It knows the time slots when the sales rep is available and so it can fix the meeting.

This is modern day technology enabled sales tactic.

Sales Tactics 17:

Not talking about the ROI of attending the meeting.

What could you do to ensure more of your booked meetings actually happen? Earlier there was no sales tactic was employed.  And the result was that more than 35% of the potential didn’t show up over the meeting or we went to meet them they cancelled it at the last moment.

Meetings are the clear indication of sales revenue. So you must try your best on reducing meeting no show.

What to do Instead? 

Let’s first understand why someone who has agreed to meet you doesn’t show up.

The top 4 reasons :

A) Plain and simple : they forget to show up.

B) They don’t see the value in the meeting and actively choose not to attend.

C) There is a lack of urgency in attending the meeting so it gets pushed to a ” later date” which never happens.

D) The have a legitimate emergency or last minute conflict.

But with the right sales tactics in place , a sales leader can equip their team to hold more meetings and reduce now show.

The sales tactics here are as follows:

  1. The moment a potential buyer  agrees to a meeting over the phone, have your reps immediately send an invite while the prospect is still on the line. The sales rep can casually ask their prospect to accept the meeting while they still have them engaged by saying something like, “I’ve already sent you the invite, so go ahead and accept it while we’re on the phone so we both have it on our calendars.”
  2. Seven day Rule: Your potential buyer will forget about you by then if you meeting is booked a month away. Meetings that occur within seven days of initial conversation are more likely to take place.
  3. Reinforce the value of meeting you: In the confirmation mail reinforce the value of meeting. Like how you have helped someone else like them. You can also share a case study on an ebook that talks about the pain points you described.
  4. Send Reminders a day before: Trigger reminder messages via sms or whatsapp or email a day before the meeting, again next day morning and then 2 hrs before the meeting.

Modern Sales CRM tools like Imagine sales Meetings helps you to automate these activities. Try all in one meetings solutions like Imagine sales meetings to get all these functionalities.

Sales Tactics 18:Not A/B Testing Sales Tactics.

When you treat sales as science rather than art, you will want to to test all sales tricks & techniques. Traditional sales psychology is to believe on technique religiously and blindly.

Like the conventional wisdom might be :

A) Let us hard follow leads when they are down the funnel. Others might say not required.

B) Tele follow up only is good while others might say mix it with messaging.

C) Personalizing messages by 3 variables will be get better response whereas others might say send generic messages.

There is so much conventional wisdom running around the sales organisation with no maths or stats to proof.

What to do Instead? 

Does adopting high pressure sales tactics  get results or should you be more socially mindful? It’s an age-old question, and one we have struggled to answer over his decades-long career.

We analyzed 500 messages : half as aggressive copy while as other half is sales researched soft approach.

Please find the finding:

High Pressure Sales Tactics. 

1.9% Response rate.

25.7% Unsubscribe.

12.8% Positive.

Soft Approach Sales Tactics.

1.1% Response Rate.

9.6% Unsubscribe.

30.8% Positive.

Data always wins. While aggressive sales tactics may garner more replies, many of those are negative. You can’t come back from an unsubscribe; the game is over. Politeness really does pay off.

Sales Tactics 19: Stop Handling Objections.

Traditionally one of the chapters on how to master the art of selling has “handle objections”.  As a sales tactic we were taught to handle objections by either providing additional facts about product or by trying to persuade the potential customer that her issue was really not important. This approach was based on using rational arguments and supporting data to make the objection go away.

The sale rep saw their success as dependent upon eliminating objections. This made them very good at argument and persuasive language. However the potential customer other side felt that he was being steamrolled , which led them to stiffen resistance or try to end the appointment as soon as possible.

What to do Instead?

The sales rep showed be seen as friends rather than adversaries. We should eliminate the word ” handling objections”.  They should reframe the interaction and use a new word to label what was going on. Rather than seeing the questions as objections , the sales rep should be encouraged to see it as simple requests for additional information. This new way of seeing the sales dynamic have a profound effect on the relationship between sales rep and potential customers.

When your thinking is that it’s simple requests for additional information and not objection, the language that the sales rep uses, makes the potential customer feel trustworthy rather than salesy and pushy.



My urge to you is simple. Please don’t follow a Sales method  religiously. Please do test it.

Without testing following a sales approach is just faith.

Faith is risky. It has high probability of failure. And we don’t try to optimize the faith to improve it step by step.

So test every tactic.

But there are certain things like Principles. Never in life test your principles and ideologies. Fight with world for your ideologies. In Modern era , sales psychology should be to be “caring” and “sincere” rather than “fake” and “manipulative”.

We have repeatedly seen with our clients the experiments on sales techniques is that few have often succeeded.

The tactics are like :

  1. Personalized Selling Approach Vs Mass Blasting.
  2. Using technology and automation to do more in less time.
  3. Sales meetings backed with reason of meeting reduces no show.
  4. Active listening vs non attentive listening.