Eight years ago I wrote this article ….
“Far too many companies have devalued selling for far too long and some business leaders have even convinced themselves that they would do better if they did not employ salespeople – after all good products sell themselves, don’t they?
As a consequence, until very recently, salespeople have done everything possible to avoid calling themselves “ Salesman or a Saleswoman” They have developed a series of euphemisms such as: “Sales Engineer” “Account Executive” “Technical Sales Consultant” “Business Development Associate” etc. But nowadays we accept that we all sell, everyday – doctors, lawyers, estate agents, architects and politicians.
It therefore follows that the quality and success of our salespeople will ultimately determine the success of our companies. Certainly the world has become more competitive and in order to survive and stay in business we need to continually expand and develop the skill sets of our sales team.
Sir John Harvey-Jones said in his book All Together Now, “Most companies fail not in their attempts to be innovative or creative. In this country most of them fail because they undervalue the importance of professional selling”
Our commercial functions, particularly the sales team, represent our forward line, (offense) and if they are not scoring regularly we cannot possibly achieve our overall commercial objectives – i.e. nothing happens until somebody sells something and all of that investment in costly accounting software, new office equipment, expensive IT systems, glossy magazines, high-tech office etc. will count for nothing.
We can therefore say with complete confidence, that selling really is THE key factor in the total marketing process. A company that is selling well is doing well!”
Then in an interview six years ago I was asked the question: “Will professional selling ever be the same again?” I responded: “No, of course it won’t for all the reasons I have been highlighting for some time. It’s an old but accurate cliché – everything changes, nothing stays the same etc.
In my view, professional selling, and the key word there is professional, is about to take on a whole new image. All of the dead and inefficient wood is being removed, and what we are going to be left with will look a whole lot better.
As customers become smarter, more discerning, more knowledgeable and more self-sufficient, we will see a new breed of salesperson develop.
The order takers and glib talkers will no longer have a place in our sales world and in their stead will come intelligent strategic orchestrators and business advisors, looking to develop long term allies. They will have the “knowledge” and they will use leading edge technology. They will succeed because they expect to. There is no turning back now.”
So you can see a pattern emerging here: Eight years is not a long time in the general scheme of things is it? Where once I believed that an organization could not function without a successful “engine room” – a highly skilled sales team, performing at optimum levels – I can now see 80% of those same companies possibly performing without a sales team. I can envisage that within five years, as more and more products and solutions become “commoditized” the two most critical functions will be marketing and customer support.
The ramifications for the sales industry are going to be considerable, and the sales training industry in particular needs to prepare itself – and its customers/clients.
Where we once doubted the validity and practicality of functioning with purely inside sales teams, we must now consider the next natural successor – commoditization.
The clock is ticking …