Death of the Salesman? – Part 1

‘Lists’ (or ‘Traffic’), ‘Leads’, ‘Pitches’, ‘Prospects’, ‘Closing’ . . .

These are all terms from the world of ‘transactional sales’. Or perhaps I should say 20th Century sales.

Are you ‘traffic’? Do you like being thought of as a ‘prospect’? How do you feel about being ‘in the sales funnel’? What about being ‘closed’?

Whatever you and I may think about this, and I for one am not too keen on being at the receiving end of it all, we are involved.

And there may be times when you and I fall into the trap of this type of sales thinking when we’re promoting our own products and services – or even ourselves.

Because you and I, whether we like the idea or not, are in ‘sales’.

And so is everyone else.

We are all sellers and we are all buyers.

Back in the day during most of the last century the only way to get information of things we wanted was to talk to a salesman (and it usually was a man).

By doing so we instantly became a ‘prospect’ and received not necessarily the information we wanted in order to make a decision but a ‘pitch’ about their version of the product we wanted to buy.

And then, before we could get away and consider what we wanted to do we had to go through an attempt to ‘close’ the sale.

I know; I’ve been on both sides. This process was what I was taught to do in sales when I was 17, over 50 years ago!

But the world is changing.

It’s well known that most people hate, or at least dislike, being ‘sold’ to – or as the Americans put it, just ‘being sold’, and most people, although there are many exceptions, hate or dislike having to ‘sell’.

But – and here’s the thing –

Most people like buying.

Most people get a sense of satisfaction, albeit sometimes short lived, when they purchase something new.

People even get a sense of achievement when they’ve done the ‘weekly shop’ for groceries and such like, even though it is often a bit of a chore at the time.

So what’s the problem?

People want to sell and people want to buy.

Where has it gone wrong?

You see, the big difference between the 20th century and the 21st is that you and I no longer have to consult a sales person when we want to buy stuff.

There are other sources of information, in particular the World Wide Web where you and I can consult search engines, ask questions on social media and seek out all the information we need (or think we need) before making our buying decision.

Then of course you and I simply press a few keys and make a few clicks and buy the product there and then – remotely – on the web.

And it’s delivered to us next day – or even the same day!

No ‘salesman’ involved

No prospecting, no pitching, no closing. All the ‘pain’ for you and I as buyers is taken away.

And sometimes we can be really sneaky, go and check out physical items in a retail outlet, even try on clothes and so forth, and then nip into the coffee shop next door and buy the product online, thus avoiding all that ‘sales’ nonsense and often with an extra discount for doing so!

Now this works well for ‘transactional’ sales of consumables and articles where no form of ‘follow up’ is needed and it works well for ‘impulse’ buys of ‘bright shiny objects’.

In these instances, and others like them ‘transactional selling’ has been replaced by ‘transactional buying’.

But this doesn’t work so well in response to marketing campaigns in the media where a telephone call is required, or in most business to business situations.

And it doesn’t work well where the purchase is more complex or involves a longer term engagement between buyer and seller than just purchasing the product.

And it doesn’t work at all well when a service, rather than a product, is being provided.

But many individuals and companies are still using old school sales methods for these things and they don’t work too well either!

In fact, they hardly work at all.

But, there is a better way, a 21st Century way, and next week I’m going to give you my insight on that and how you and I can use it.

Both as ‘sellers’ and as buyers.