Selling – What’s changed? What hasn’t?

Tuesday, March 13 2012

Trying to describe change in selling is like taking a picture of a waterfall. You’ve frozen a moment in time, but as soon as you release the shutter, it’s the past. You’ve caught only a fleeting image of one of the millions of unique streams.

As I reflected about the ways that selling has changed over the years, I found it difficult to confidently articulate what is “true” about selling today compared to the past. I came up with more questions than answers. And while I think I know some of the answers, it may be more instructive for you to answer these questions yourself:

  • Do people still buy from salespeople based on trust?
  • Does anyone buy anything without checking the Internet?
  • What role does social media play in purchasing decisions?
  • Is a face-to-face meeting necessary to make a sale? Does it depend on the size of the sale?
  • How important are referrals, references and testimonials?
  • Do young people buy differently than baby boomers?
  • Can baby boomer salespeople sell effectively to young people and vice versa?
  • How has technology changed the sales process?
  • Do sophisticated and expensive CRM systems actually help to generate more sales per salesperson?
  • Does blogging make selling easier?
  • If you put the same effort into meeting people face-to-face as you spend blogging, would you make more sales?
  • How do you mesh social media with more traditional ways of staying in touch?
  • Have Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, and the myriad of other digital sites made selling easier or more difficult? If you don’t use them, can you still sell?
  • Can you still make appointments by telephone?
  • Do cold calls, direct mail and newspaper ads still work?
  • How much do you need to spend on a website to make it appear trustworthy and a positive experience for prospects and customers?
  • What is the future of retail sales? Will stores be replaced by automated warehouses and a website?
  • How can you best use video chat, webinars and Skype to expand your territory and deal with more customers without ever leaving your home?
  • How important is it to make a good first impression, establish rapport, ask good questions, and make confident recommendations in helping customers to buy?
  • How important are written communication skills in today’s selling arena?
  • How much time is wasted on the internet versus productive sales activities?
  • To use Don Tapscott’s term, many salespeople have been “disintermediated” – made irrelevant by technology. What industries still rely on professional salespeople?

More questions than answers. I suspect that anyone who tells you he/she has all the answers hasn’t asked enough questions.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts with our readers.