On October 22, The Economist published an article called, The Art of Selling - The Death of the Salesman Has been Greatly Exaggerated. Is the Economist really that far out of touch? I wrote the last of my 5-part Death of Selling Has Been Exaggerated articles 5 years ago! And how long has it been since anyone referred to salespeople at "salesmen"?
I was embarassed by the article. And who did the author cite as experts? Among others, consultants from McKinsey, who despite not being sales experts, wrote a new book about Sales Growth. For additional credibility with mainstream businesses like yours and mine, the author also cites Avon, Mary Kay, auto car salespeople, Apple stores, Google, and Salesforce.com - all whose models are just like the one your business uses, right?
Wurth, the first company mentioned in the article, has credibiliy with me because they are not only a traditional, mainstream company, but have also used Objective Management Group to evaluate their worldwide sales force.
Looking forward, what are the most important things for you to know about what will happen with salespeople?
1) They will continue to play a major role in finding and growing your business as long as you have them focus on finding and growing your business!
2) They have more tools available to aid them in this quest then ever before. It's your responsibility to bring the tools to them, train them and make sure they use them when and where appropriate.
3) They must learn to sell more consultatively if you wish to differentiate your company from your competition and gain more market share. The days of salespeople who present and quote aren't over, but the days where that can translate into consistent business are over.
4) A Formal, structured, customized, optimized sales process must replace seat of the pants selling. They will fail without it.
5) More, not less sales managment coaching and accountability must be part of their daily routine.
[This article was picked up by SalesEdgeOne and there is a very in-depth discussion, mostly from other sales experts, taking place over there. The article here is really just the tip of the iceberg and you should continue over there and contribute to the discussion.]