Sales 101 – Getting Back to Basics

Monday, January 9 2017

We’ve been inundated with messages about how selling has changed and cold calling is dead. Social media is touted as the way to sell; online networking activities have eclipsed time spent meeting face-to-face. But how often does social media produce sales or is it an excuse to stay home, isolated with your computer, pretending to be productive?

There’s no question that buyers have more choices today. Recently, I searched for a new cellphone and service provider. I did my homework: I checked websites, read reviews, and spoke to friends. I knew what I wanted and how much I was prepared to pay before ever speaking to a salesperson – something we couldn’t do even ten years ago.

Countless products and services have been commoditized. They offer few, if any, unique advantages over their competitors so there is little reason to speak to a real salesperson; you might as well just point-and-click. Many companies, in their race to the bottom, have replaced salespeople with websites and order-takers who spout pat answers, receive minimal wages, and are not the least bit interested in the needs of the customer.

That’s not the role of a professional salesperson! And we need professional salespeople – to sell new ideas, concepts, products and services that aren’t mere commodities. We need them to help people make smart choices when the answers aren’t obvious; or when they just don’t have the depth of education or training to filter through all the options. Which cell phone to buy is an innocuous, if annoying, decision. Which training program for your employees, insurance policy, investment, industrial equipment, or medical device to purchase? These are decisions that may require a caring, certified, trustworthy advisor/salesperson who can help sift through the data, determine your needs, and make a confident recommendation.

That’s the real question, isn’t it? Who is trustworthy? Who will place the customer’s interest over his/her own? Who will give advice with integrity, credibility and understanding of the customer’s needs? Who will speak up and tell the truth, even if it isn’t what the customer wants to hear? At a time when traditional values of honesty, truthfulness, integrity, caring for the needs of others, and professionalism seem to be in short supply, those who exemplify them are needed more than ever. We need to get back to basics.