3 Ways Selling Has Changed In The Last 10 Years

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Most of us in Sales began our career with the Yellow Pages in hand.  Sales training consisted of two words – start dialing.  Call your family, then friends, and work your way down to those you didn’t know at all..  COLD!  You started with the “A”‘s and worked down to “Z” dialing the phone 150 – 175 times a day.  If you were lucky you spoke with a handful of potential buyers and perhaps made 1 sale.  Your success depending solely on a rapid fire approach.  Dialing as fast as you could, ending the calls that didn’t present an immediate opportunity and on to the next call.  No strategy.  No connection.  No value.

Today things have changed but many Sales organizations are still operating with a pre-80’s selling style.  They refuse to accept the reality that there is in fact a softer side of selling.  This side of selling acknowledges a great deal of strategy and includes the elements of education, communication, and value.  Here are 3 areas that have changed dramatically in the past decade with the flow of available information on the web:

  1. Gamesmanship versus Education.  Not more than 10 years ago a sales persons goal was to outplay or outmaneuver the prospect.  This is not to say that salespeople were bad people.  They did their jobs with the tools at their disposal and the direction given to them by their managers all of whom were trained the same way and advanced in their careers accordingly.   Given the scarcity of information buyers were completely reliant upon the salesperson.  While best case scenarios involved a sales person simply being viewed as pushy, worst case extremes included those sales people who mislead, misinformed, and misguided their prospects into making a poor purchasing decision.   Thankfully today there is an abundance of information available starting with the Web and including education content made available directly from companies selling their goods and services.
  2. Push versus Pull communication.  Remember direct mail with all those post cards that companies sent out through the U.S. Postal Service?  Or the letters that were sent out offering 3, 6, or 12 months free.  Urgency words and phrases like “For the first 100 callers”, or “in the next 90 days”, or how about “while supplies last”?  Sellers created a sense of urgency for the buyer that if they didn’t act quickly they would lose out on this incredible deal.  By stating the offer was only available to the first 100 callers, sellers attempted to manipulate prospective buyers into believing that there were swarms of ready-buyers who were crashing the gates to gobble up all product being offered for sale and soon there would be no more.  After all, we all need at least one if not two “gophers“.
  3. Discounts versus Value. Imagine Mercedes-Benz, ExxonMobil, Apple, or Goldman Sachs giving their work away at a heavy discount or even for free.  Premium brands only become premium by protecting their brand value.  Any offers that include give-a-ways do nothing more than diminish the value of your brand.  Think for a moment about your sales experience with a premium brand company.  You’re almost shaking with excitement to hand over your money just to say you own what they sell.  Remember your first iPod, iPad or Macbook?  You never complained that there were no discounts.  And what about the UGGs you bought?  Premium companies stand by the value of their brand, selling it for the price they believe is justified to not only make a profit but to also protect their brand’s value.

Respecting your prospect, your buyer, and your current customer is paramount to your continued growth and success in selling.  Taking the time to educate your prospective buyer through high-value communication will help position you as more than just a sales person.  The sales professional able to do this most effectively will be the one that the buyer can’t live without.  They will become an indispensable resource to the buyer and will become the go-to person for all their needs.  Said simply, the one who delivers the most value wins today, tomorrow, and the next.

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