Death of a Salesman????
No, this isn’t an article about Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize winning play about Willy Loman. Instead, I want to put to bed that the need for sales people has diminished recently due to the paradigm shift in the sophistication of buyers. Granted, the Internet has allowed buyers to search for what they need long before they engage with a sales person. But, that takes into account that the buyer knows what he wants ahead of time.
I’ve been selling for over 40 years and I have to tell you that there was a time when the people we sold to looked forward to having us call on them because, except for trade journals, we were their source of information and enlightenment. Today, buyers not only have the Internet, but they also have Social Networks, like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook they can go to and ask for help on what to buy and who they should buy from. Again, that takes into account that they already know what it is that they need to buy.
I take exception to those who taught that the sales person’s role has diminished. I believe that well informed and well prepared sales people are more important than ever to business, especially in the area of solution selling. You see, I believe that good salespeople help their prospects and customers identify issues and problems that they may either have and don’t recognize yet, or will have. That is where salespeople add real value to their profession. There’s not much fun in simply responding to a quote for the lowest price for an item that someone can purchase from the Internet.
Salespeople who understand their customers’ business and can make recommendations, which help them solve their problems, will always be of value to their customers. In fact, that is what the Challenger Selling Model is all about. “The thing that sets Challenger reps apart is their ability to teach customers something new and valuable about how to compete in their market” (The Challenger Sale, The Corporate Executive Board publisher 2011). Customers, buyers and prospects still seek help in identifying, clarifying and solving their problems. Quality, “Trusted Advisor” salespeople, still brings value to those they sell to in more ways than just providing products. It’s the solutions they provide that go way beyond just their products that will continue to keep the selling profession alive. That is why there is a growing need for well-educated and well-prepared salespeople to help their prospects and customers solve problems they may not even know they have.
At least that’s the way I see it, what say you?