Sales: Old School or New School?

Car salesman shaking hands with woman and son
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There seems to be some confusion in the sales industry. There are several who claim to be gurus, experts or sales masters who insist that unless a sales rep has discarded of the "old school ways" of sales and has adopted the new school approach, that the rep is bound to fail.

So before you decide which school of sales is better, you need to understand the basics of each.

The Good Old, Tried and True, Old School Approach to Sales

Before we talk about what old school is all about, we need to clarify what it isn't.

Old school is not fast-talking, dishonest sales reps, focused on closing sales, using whatever it takes to get the customer to sign on the dotted line. The old school is not about hard closing every customer or being loose and free with over promises and under-deliveries.

But that description is what many think of when they think of old-school sales.

Old school is truly about building genuine, lasting relationships with customers. Whether those who subscribe to the "old school" ways call it this or not, what these sales professionals believe in is relationship selling. 

This means that building a relationship with a client is job number one. Job number two is building rapport and trust. And job number three is to help the client make a buying decision.

Once those jobs are done, the sales rep keeps in touch with their clients to make sure they remain happy with their buying decision, to ask for referrals and to be in a position to sell more things to the client.

The New School of Sales

While the old school of sales focuses on building relationships, the new school is all about creating as many connections as possible, positioning yourself as a subject matter expert and act as more of a consultant than a sales professional.

Since the proliferation of the Internet and the twenty-four by seven access to information, customers have, the new school of sales says that sales professionals need to challenge customers when helping them make buying decisions.

They need to help a customer filter out an abundance of information to arrive at the best, most appropriate decision they can make for their business.

The new school doesn't suggest that building relationships with clients isn't important, they just feel that there are more important things for a sales rep to spend time on. 

So, Which Is Really Better?

First of all, both the old school and the new school offer tremendous value for those in sales. But both are lacking. The old school falls short in its singular focus on building relationships while the new school falls short with its diminished valuation of relationship building.

Customers today are much better informed than customers were just a decade or two ago. But they are also much busier. To prove this, ask yourself if with all the access to information and entertainment you have, do you have more or less time to spend in ways you want?

The truth is, the more informed we are, the busier we are.

And that's why it is so important that salespeople today spend the time needed to establish, foster and grow customer relationships while, at the same time, challenging them and assisting them in filtering out the information that may not be relevant to the problem you are helping them solve.


Build relationships and challenge them at the same time. 

Maybe that's what the soon to be realized, newer new school of sales will be all about.