Traditional sales bunk

By Jeff Bowman

Step right up ladies and gentleman, you won’t believe your eyes, let me direct your attention, you’ll be amazed!

We all know that selling is the oldest profession in the world. We’ve seen the old fashioned sales tents and the stands with the barkers, and we’ve heard the pitches:

“Don’t be misled by other’s claims”

“Can you afford to be without one”?

“A good wife will …”

“Act now; this is a limited time offer”

There have been monumental changes in the way goods and services are bought and sold in the last 100 years. My grandparents bought from a catalogue or the local general store and occasionally the trains would bring salesmen from afar with new and innovative products that supposedly worked miracles.

Today we have a varied and widespread method of message delivery including television, radio and the internet; hundreds of choices of stores or suppliers from which to purchase, and of course the catalogue and the barker (professional salesman) are still around, just watch some television in the wee hours of the morning.

Despite the increased competition, the ease with which we can purchase products, the complexity and length of some buying decisions and the ever-changing needs of the buyer, the traditional style of selling goods and services has changed little in the last century. The traditional sales approach preaches getting the buyer’s attention (you won’t believe your eyes!), stimulating their interest (let me direct your attention!), creating a demand for the product (you’ll be amazed!) and a call to immediate action (act now). Sound familiar?

Buyers in today’s world are much smarter and better informed. Professional buyers are certified in their trade. They don’t want cheap gimmicks, or one-time offers and today demand that the salespeople calling on them are product and service specialists, who make it their job to satisfy needs, provide advice, build a solid relationship and go the extra mile for them. In short, they want a Consultative Sales Professional.

Today’s salespeople need to be experts in all areas of their product offering; they need to build a strong relationship with the buyer; they should be able to accurately profile their own company, the competition and their customer and be able to probe to uncover opportunities and needs so they can offer a clear benefit for every feature of their product or service. Keep in mind, a product feature without a stated benefit to the buyer means little in terms of needs satisfaction.

It doesn’t stop at the salesperson, even though they are the focal contact with customers. Companies need to build a culture focused on providing the highest value to the customer. Marketing, customer service, finance, even warehouse employees and shippers need to be trained in the new consultative sales techniques.

In today’s market, the true winners will be organizations who value a customer focused approach.

“Good afternoon, will you allow me a few minutes of your time to learn more about your business so that I can better service your needs?”

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