xrematon

November 10, 2011

Death of a salesman – part 2

Filed under: Customer Service,Futures — by xrematon @ 8:15 pm
Tags: ,

I wrote about a recent sales experience in my last post. After this, I was particularly interested in a piece I came across in the Economist which talked about how the death of the salesmen has been exaggerated.

A quick rehash of the arguments on why such people might disappear: with the internet, consumers can find out what’s right for them on their own, getting unbiased information from other customer reviews; in the B2B world, things have got a lot more exciting with reverse auctions and the like.

However, as the article goes on to point out, sales still matters. It is essential if you want to get anywhere in Asia, where the people buy from people. And doing it well can make a big difference to the bottom line. According to a recent study from McKinsey the performance of salespeople within a single company typically varies by a factor of three.

Trying to find the piece online, I came across an interesting discussion among the ‘sheltered ecosystem’ of salespeople (as one of the contributors described their world). I was struck by some of the comments.

Firstly one about the need for change, and within this, to avoid the ‘technology as saviour’ approach:

Yet we, as a group, really haven’t changed a whole lot in the last XX years. The scary thing, is the buyer has changed….Somehow, we have found the answer, and the answer is in the clouds with all sorts of Sales 2.0 tools. If only we buy the right set of tools, we will immediately find ourselves aligned with the new buyer, we will immediately become “respected,” we will transform our relationships with customers. Or maybe the attraction to those tools is that when we fail, we can blame the tools rather than ourselves.

Another proposed a name change to avoid the negative connotations associated with the word ‘sales’:

Today’s salesperson is really a business improvement specialist whose focus is on helping the customer achieve their specific objectives. Sales is simply an outcome of doing that work right.

One of the final contribution (to date) on the discussion makes clear the bottom line is that there is lots of chat and agreement, but little action.

 Aren’t we all saying the same thing? That despite the preaching, teaching, writing, training, speaking and consulting that we all do, and despite how much we ARE attempting to change things for the better, that change has been VERY slow to occur. People get it – but don’t do it. They understand it – but don’t execute.

As my previous experience shows, it’s still important to get the basics, like correct pricing, right!

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