5 Old-School Sales Tricks that Still Work

Originally published on Medium.ComJun 1, 2016

Times have changed. But then, that has always been true. It’s like the old adage (are there actually NEW adages?) about the weather: If you don’t like the weather… wait a minute. In other words, change is inevitable.

And yet, there is nothing new under the sun, as King Solomon allegedly said about 3000 years ago in the Song of Songs. Human nature does not change that much.

With that in mind, here are 5 sales Old School techniques that have worked magic since back in the day.


The number one rule of sales, according to legendary ad man Michael Masterson, is: People Don’t Like Being Sold. The concept is simple enough for the salesperson, let the prospect know what it is he or she needs to know about the product… features, functions, benefits…then back off. Let them come to you. Give them a choice… “So, do you like the red one or the blue one.” Or, better still, say something like, “It’s up to you… you’re the boss.”


All the Features, Functions, Benefits, and Rube Goldberg Devices in the world will not work if you are not playing to their emotions. A great list of emotions you can use are: Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, and Sloth. Look familiar? If you remember the movie “Seven” or you’re deeply into Manga, you’ll recognize this list as the Seven Deadly Sins. Really, though, they are a list of powerful emotions which we’ve all given into throughout our lives.

They are also powerful sales tools:

Pride: If you buy this, you’ll be the talk of the neighborhood;

Envy: Are you going to let Mr. Jones have the latest technology while you’re still using last years model?

Gluttony: Yes, I DO want fries with that… in fact, Super-size me.

Lust: Sex sells, baby! Just ask Don Draper.

Anger: They kicked sand in your face, but not anymore. Show ’em what you’re made of, baby.

Greed: You’re getting the best deal ever. This product will help YOU to rake in the cash.

Sloth: This gadget is so convenient, it will drive your kids to school.

Emotions like these can be used in your ad copy, your sales pitch, your rebuttals, and they can also be uncovered as the buyers “Pains.” Once we uncover their pains, their frustrations, we can offer solutions to those pains.


“Oh, man, Mr. Smith, you’re gonna be the envy of the neighborhood when they see THIS bad boy.”

This is a simple technique, but is hugely important. The customer needs to feel validated. This also minimizes the amount of cancellations you get on the back end, and you’ve made a potential regular customer. Making them feel good about their decision helps you and/or your company to sell the customer’s NEXT order. The sad reality is many salespeople don’t take the time to nail down this last detail, but it will pay off in the future.


As the saying goes, we each have two ears, but just one mouth. Listening to the prospect helps us to build rapport, helps them to blow off steam regarding previous sales attempts, products that didn’t help, and their pains and frustrations. Sometimes the prospect will yell at you, but he or she is not really yelling at you, but rather at dozens of bad salespeople who DIDN’T listen to them. So listen. Even if you don’t make a sale, at least you had a nice conversation as opposed to just spouting off another sales pitch, then giving canned rebuttals.


This is the most obvious sales technique of all, but, in my experience as a sales professional for over twenty years, it’s one technique that most salespeople do not use. All the rapport building, needs-identifying, and product knowledge in the world won’t work if you don’t say, “So, will that be cash or credit?” If you’re waiting for the buyer to say, “Sounds great, I’ll take it,” you’re going to wait a long, long time.

Don’t feel like you’re being pushy. It’s your job. They know it’s your job. The key to a good close is this: lay your groundwork first. Remember Sales Rule #1? People Don’t Like Being Sold? If you lay your groundwork: listening as much as talking, identifying needs, selling to their emotions, gaining their confidence through product knowledge… then asking for the sale will come organically. It’s when you ask for the sale without creating a consultative sales environment, when you’re just giving them a sales pitch, a spiel, a few verbatim rebuttals, that they feel like they’re being sold, hustled, conned.

Don’t waste their time and yours. Be a consultative seller, an authority seller, an expert in your product or service.

Happy Hunting!

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