Sales bro vs. Sales pro: does aggressive sales messaging work?

Posted January 14, 2019

Joe vignolo headshot

By Joe Vignolo

Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach

As the fictional sales sage (or sadist) known only as Blake once said, “ABC—Always, Be, Closing.”

While entertaining, Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross added gasoline to the fiery belief that aggressive tactics are commonplace, and compulsory, in sales. If you want to close, you need to be forceful.

But is that true? Where’s the data to back Baldwin up? Maybe ABC should stand for:

Always
Be
Courteous

Outreach VP of Sales, Mark Kosoglow, wondered the same the thing—does adopting aggressive sales tactics in emails get results or should you be more socially mindful? It’s an age-old question, and one Mark has struggled to answer over his decades-long career.

We decided to say adios to ancient assumptions (Glengarry Glen Ross came out in 1992—feel old?) and double down on data by bringing in Outreach VP of Data Science, Pavel Dmitriev, and Yifei Huang, Data Science Manager, to help get to the bottom of Mark’s internal debate.

Which Mark is right—the pushy old school sales bro or the kind modern sales pro? Let’s find out.

Do you have to be aggressive to sell or does politeness pay off?

We analyzed 4,500 sales emails—half with aggressive copy, the other half leveraging more socially mindful messaging. First, we looked at response rates to determine which tactic racked up more replies.

Do you have to be aggressive to sell or does politeness pay off?

We analyzed 4,500 sales emails—half with aggressive copy, the other half leveraging more socially mindful messaging. First, we looked at response rates to determine which tactic racked up more replies.

S Pv SB Aggressive Sales Messaging

Looks like the deal dinosaur, Old School Sales Bro, was right. Or was he?

You see, a high response rate is great and all but what if the responses you’re getting are all unsubscribe requests? That’s where Intent Classification comes in, our process of detecting and examining whether replies are positive, objections, or unsubscribe requests using Natural Language Process (NPL) and Machine Learning (ML). That way you can understand whether all those replies you receive are good or bad for business.

So was the aggressive messaging with the high reply rate actually the right move? As Mark would say, “Ssshhh...Data Desk.”

S Pv SB Final Results

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.

Summary

Looks like Southern Gentleman Mark was right. And here are the numbers to back it up:

A graphic titled "Final Results: Pros vs Bros" with a dark blue background. The graphic features a scoreboard-style layout comparing two groups, "Pros" and "Bros." Each group has a set of statistics displayed next to it, represented by bar graphs and numerical values. The metrics might include performance indicators such as sales numbers, win rates, or other competitive measures. The design uses contrasting colors to clearly differentiate between the two groups and visually emphasize the comparison.

Whether this test will do anything to change the belief that successful sellers need to use, to quote Old School Sales Bro, a “...powerful, authoritative, manly tone,” is yet to be seen. Hopefully, consultative and courteous sales tactics will no longer be the exception but the norm.


To learn more about Outreach Intent Classification, A/B testing, Machine Learning, and Reply Detection, check out Amplify, our suite of Machine Learning offerings to help sales teams make better decisions and focus on activities that provide measurable lift.


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