Well Do We?
Do We Really Still Need Salespeople?
These days, you don’t have to look very far to find an article, video or book where someone is telling us that selling is no longer relevant to modern day business.
Cold calling is pronounced dead on an almost daily basis, web driven customer attraction (without any salespeople involved) is almost guaranteed to have a new version available before you finish reading this article and thousands of sales people have recently faced the threat (or reality) of compulsory redundancy.
But to be fair, selling has got quite a bad name over the last few years – or to be more precise – lazy practitioners, half jobs and charlatans have given the art and science of selling a reputation it really didn’t deserve.
You see, since the rise of the internet, customers have started to cocoon themselves into their own private space.
In this wonderful modern age, if you know what you want, you can just reach out – and, with the click of a mouse – take complete control of your entire buying and shopping experience.
We no longer need to communicate or meet with other human beings who aren’t in our personal circle of associates – we never need to climb out of our cocoon.
We’ve all got the internet.
That’s why there’s such a shocked look on everyone’s face if the telephone rings after a certain point in the evening – and God forbid that there should be a knock on the door after dark.
I don’t know how far back you remember – but that’s not how it used to be when I was growing up – back then, someone came along and knocked on our door almost every day.
The insurance man would pick up his premium, the milkman, soda delivery guy, postman, scrap-metal collector and the window-cleaner would all show up regularly – as did a rather scary, unwashed chap with a stone mechanism on the front of his bike, who offered to sharpen everyone’s knives.
But that was then and this is now.
This morning I saw that the LinkedIn theme for June was The State of #MyIndustry – ironically, at the same time that I got a direct sales email from a fellow group member entitled “Killing the Cold Call” – and that got me to thinking.
Because here’s the thing – we actually need great salespeople to help us, guide us, keep us informed and stop us from making diabolically stupid buying decisions far more than we’ve ever needed them before.
The spectrum of choice available to us is vast and – most of the time – we don’t realise how much our decisions are being quietly manipulated, by the very technology that we actually think we’re in control of.
It’s a well known fact that, if it’s free on the internet, then the people using it – that’s YOU and ME – eventually become the product, we become the profit generators of those who are letting us use it for nothing.
But of course that’s not how the majority perceive it.
So our cocoon gets more and more snug and we stop telling strange salespeople about the problems we have – as human interaction starts to feel ever more uncomfortable and unnecessary, and we slowly become more and more guarded and untrusting.
We all know that humans just want to rip us off and that sales people only look after themselves – right?
We can only trust ourselves and the impartial choices the internet freely offers us.
So whether you’ve been in sales a while or you’re just starting out – you need to recognise that things have changed – that we need to Earn the Right to become suppliers more than we ever did before.
Most pre-nineties industrialised, hard sell sales training no longer works on a 21st Century customer – if you sound like a contestant from the apprentice or the customer believes they are being SOLD AT – you’ve already failed.
And you can no longer step into a sales job expecting an easy ride.
Driving around and talking to people for a living, with no recognisable return with regards to the time or money spent by your employer – is a job description of the past.
So, ignore the people who say that the sales industry needs to become professionalised.
It already has.
If you don’t have the right attitude from day one, you are no longer welcome at the club.
The truth is, we all benefit from GREAT SALESPEOPLE – but there isn’t anyone, anymore – customer or employer – who has any use for the other kind.
Sales People Who Are No Longer Required
- Anyone who hasn’t got the common decency to wash properly or can’t be bothered to dress like a professional
- Everyone who thinks that just turning up, pointing at a brochure and filling out an order form in return for a big salary, health care, expenses and a car, is the formula for a long term career
- Those people who think that they’re already the finished article – imbued at birth with some kind of sales superpower – and so never see sales as both an art and a science to be studied, polished and improved
- Anyone who thinks that winning or getting one over on their fellow human being is in some way clever
- People who sneer at colleagues who try to improve themselves
- All those who haven’t invested any of their own time into understanding how their solution truly helps – and then complain that every buying decision is won or lost on price
- Anyone who fails to recognise that – if they go to see customers unprepared, without a plan, not completely believing in what they’re selling or can’t explain why they’re better than the competition – they are dreadful value for money for their employers (and a waste of time for prospects).
Salespeople that Every Employer and Prospect Desperately Want to Meet
- All those with humility, honesty, integrity, empathy and an old fashioned work ethic that ensures the job gets done.
- Someone who understands the problem and can deliver a solution that works brilliantly for both sides of the table
- Anyone who has the tenacity to help people make great buying decisions – and does it with the same enthusiasm that a small child has when showing off the best Christmas present EVER
- People who want to improve themselves in their own time, at their own expense and with a personal goal to be the best
- All those who deliver value that wasn’t there before they arrived.
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