Is The Selling Profession Nearing Its End?

This was a question posed at a recent panel discussion I was on. It was to a group of small business owners. I’m usually not a big fan of panel discussions due to the limited time each participant has to speak.

Venture Club - Panel

But this one was good…Ben Pidgeon, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, facilitated the event and we had awesome panelists: Jenny Vance (www.leadjen.com), Gary VanDeLaarschot (www.accelerate.com) and Adam Weber (www.GoBlueBridge.com).

Here’s my answer to the question of whether the salesperson is going away.

No….but.

No, the sales function is NOT going away anytime soon. But, the fact is that selling is changing. Here are my thoughts on how it’s changing and what you can do to cope, whether you’re a sales team leader or front-line seller.

1. Seller Must Offer Insight. You are not an order taker or an order maker. Most of the time, the customer has no earthly idea if they are in need of your solution or not. So, you must offer some form of “insight” to help guide the prospect along. That may be a case study, it may be a list of the trends you see impacting your clients, or it may be an article that you have published that positions you as an expert AND offers value. Don’t just run the prospect through your process. They deserve more than that.

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An Example of Something Better Than a Resume

My daughter, Kara Caskey, recently finished a semester abroad program in Europe. She studied in Prague, but played in Scotland, Vienna, Milan and Amsterdam.

The point of this though is to share a great idea for college seniors who might be tempted to rely on a resume to help them get that awesome job.

I say, “To hell with the resume!” Create something that the hiring manager can see is a sampling of your work.

She did that in this video. Yes, it’s a great video. But, the lesson here is that when someone searches her name as part of the interview process, they’ll see this instead of some dumb resume. (Oh, yes, you will need a resume…but this tells a better story.)

Sales Methodology? Sales Process? Sales Philosophy!

Lots has been written, some tediously so, about Sales Process and Sales Methodology.  It will make your eyes glaze over. So in this article, I want to clarify what each of these are (in my opinion) and also share a third, more important area of growth for sales driven companies: Sales Philosophy.

SALES-PHILOSOPHY

Just for clarity, here are my definitions:

Sales Process

It’s the sequence of events that characterize how a customer makes his/her way through from Awareness to Comprehension to Conviction to Action. It is usually discussed in a step-by-step way.

An example: 1) Entry Point, which is how a sales person begins discussion with a prospect. 2) Needs Assessment, where the sales person asks a series of questions about the customer’s state or circumstance. 3) Education, where the sales person educates the customer as to how similar companies are solving their problem. 4) Alternatives, where the sales person brings a set of alternatives on how he/she might solve the presenting problem. 5) Decision, where the customer makes a decision on moving forward.

Obviously, these will vary a lot depending upon your structure, culture and goals.

Sales Methodology

This is more of an over-arching template, usually branded like Rackham’s SpinSelling, Konrath’s SNAP Selling or Miller-Heiman’s Conceptual Selling. It’s typically the “skill set” portion of selling. How to ask questions, how to position your product in the eyes of the customer, how to frame the value. “How To” is the meme of methodology.

Sales Philosophy

A totally missed and misunderstood element. This deals with the mentality of the seller. How one thinks about one’s self, one’s value, one’s expertise, one’s process, one’s customers, one’s follow up, one’s role in the sales process…etc,

My belief, after 26 years of training teams and coaching people is that a sound philosophy trumps process and methodology every time.

Why?

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When You Don’t Feel Like You Matter, Do This

That’s the number one question we ask ourselves silently, isn’t it? Do I matter? Sometimes we ask it as in ‘Does my life matter?’ More often, its circumstantial. “Do I matter in this particular area of life?”

EVEN-THE-SMALLEST,-WEAKEST,-MOST

I received an email from a blog reader this week that was most touching. Here is an excerpt:

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Bill,

Thanks for all the content publishing you do. It really helps. 

I took a job last year as a sales person for a highly technical service. And I’m lost. I don’t feel like my expertise can measure up to my client’s expertise in what I’m selling. And I don’t think it ever will.  

I’m thinking about changing professions. Either get out of sales. Or get out of this industry. I just don’t feel like I matter much when I’m calling on these high-powered doctors. 

What should I do?

Becca,

San Francisco, CA

=================

It struck a nerve with me. How often have I felt like my work doesn’t matter? Lots.

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7 Tips For Becoming The WORST Sales Person

OK, you caught me on a bad day. You caught me on a day where I don’t really want to give “tips on excellence.” I’d much rather give tips on how to be the WORST Sales Person. That’s right. How can you be mediocre at selling?

NO-VISION-NO-GOALS

Here they are:

  1. Have No Vision & No Goals. Stop with the goal setting. It’s all a scam. You don’t need goals. Just go out and do it, do it, do it. Pay no attention to your personal goals. Your prospect doesn’t care about your goals, so why should you? Just work extra hard. It’ll all work out.
  2. Be Overly Enthusiastic. Just scream louder. Sell harder. Don’t let the prospect get a word in. Why would you. You know what they need already, so why let them tell you. It’s a waste of time.
  3. Spend Zero Time on Your Message. Just allow the prospect to connect all the dots on how your value will solve their problem – or help them achieve their dreams. They’re smart enough aren’t they? Just tell them how great you are.  Tell them how they’d be an idiot not to buy from you. They’ll surely buy – especially if you keep telling them.
  4. See Everyone as a Prospect. If they’re breathing and even, remotely, resemble a good prospect, sell on! You’re just playing the game of odds. At some point, someone will buy. It’s better to see everyone as a prospect because then you get to put them on your pipeline report – and your manager will be ecstatic about all the opportunity you’re uncovering.
  5. Wing Everything. Have no prospect plan. Have no personal business plan. Have no meeting plan. After all, you’ve been doing this for years so why do you need a process? You have your personality! What more could you need?
  6. Forget The Follow Up. You know follow-up is overrated, don’t you? No need to recap what happened in the sales call. Surely, they took notes. It’s just a waste of time.
  7. No More Questions. You have what you have so why do you care about the prospect’s pain and goals? It’s not like you’re going to change your offer based on what they say, are you? No. So ditch the questions.
  8. BONUS TIP: Spend no time at all on developing your self. Forget skill-building. Forget the mental side of selling. Forget working on how to handle difficult circumstances.  Sit back and watch one more episode of “The Bachelor” instead of working on yourself. After all, this is all about your product, isn’t it?

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