Are salespeople becoming an endangered species? In July, 2009, I wrote my first blog article titled, Where Have All the Sales Leaders Gone?, and raised this issue …“I hear all the rhetoric about how marketing has replaced selling, and that consumers are now much more educated and informed as a result of the Internet. But have consumers become more sophisticated out of necessity because so many of the companies they do business with have poorly trained sales staffs?”
Selling is constantly evolving and is being transformed today by two disruptive events –the explosive growth of the Internet and online commerce, and increased globalization. A recent article indicated that “97% of consumers say they now turn to the Internet before making contact with a business.” While this figure seems high, the article points out that establishing and maintaining a strong social media presence is critical to the success of any business.
Further, with cloud computing, viral social media interactions and the availability of detailed product information online, 70% of the sales process is now completed before the buyer ever speaks to a salesperson. Sales are increasingly being won and lost in the social media arena of Twitter, Facebook, blogs and forums. Today’s salespeople must be able to operate effectively within this new sales arena if they expect to be successful.
As products and services become increasingly complex and the consumers more sophisticated, sales professionals are being forced to move from a transaction-based sales approach to a consultative sales model, but also to a more ‘outcome focused sales discussion’. They are being asked to up-sell and cross-sell to a diverse portfolio of customers at higher levels within their respective businesses.
However, despite this shift in how sales are made, most salespeople spend very little time or money to improve their sales skills to meet this new challenge, and the same holds true for entrepreneurs and small business owners. The majority of sellers – the lower 80 % – often say that they “can’t afford” to invest in a sales course. In contrast, most of the top 20% of salespeople read several sales books and take at least one sales training course a year. They invest in themselves to enhance their sales skills, and as a result reap the benefits of higher earnings.
“You don’t get better by staying the same. This is true for salespeople and in every other aspect of life as well.”
Try this … ask ten salespeople or small business owners that you meet during the next week what sales books they’ve read this year and what sales training courses they have attended. The majority will tell you they have not read a sales book in the past year, or attended a sales course. Are you among the 80% that has done little or nothing to improve their selling skills?
Salespeople are not becoming an endangered species, far from it. However, bad salespeople will become obsolete by their own doing, either because they dislike selling, are inept at it, or fail to adjust to the changes in the selling environment. If you’re directly involved in sales, you must continually enhance your selling skills in order to achieve greater success and ensure that you don’t become an endangered species.
Start the next quarter off right by making an investment in yourself. Sign-up for a sales training course and go get (and read) those sales books!
So, what sales books have you read this year and what sales training courses have you attended?