Is sales dead? Sales is dead – particularly if we see sales as selling to buyers. We need to update our engagement practice with how customers buy today.
Most popular job in Australia is, Sales Assistant
In the LinkedIn Daily of 29th August, from an article in The Australian, Bernard Salt reported that the most popular job in Australia is, Sales Assistant. When you consider how many other people are in sales but don’t have ‘sales’ in their job title – such as Business Development Manager or Account Manager –a huge portion of employed people are in ‘sales’.
So, what’s the problem?
Well the problem is that selling as we have been doing it for a hundred years, no longer works.
Selling in old days
During the last century sales people often had new products and services that people did not even know about. Their role was to provide people with information about these new products and services. Inform the customer of the functions and features, then help them buy it.
If they resist buying, then there was a huge list of overcoming objection tactics to apply to these people who needed help making the decision to buy.
Today, our customers have changed in five key ways (see more detail in this blog post).
- Customer are sales resistant. Anything that looks like, sounds like or feels like selling, and the customer’s resistance rises.
- Customers want to do it themselves. The self-service revolution.
- Customers are more informed that ever in our history. Not only about the products, services features and benefits, but also about what other customers, friends and colleagues are saying about the supplier or product.
- Customer expectations are rising all the time – about service, product performance and the companies they chose to deal with.
- Experience is important – how the engagement is done is critical.
Today customers buy, they won’t be sold to.
This was reported last week, again on LinkedIn Daily, taking their lead from a story in The Australian. “AHG steamrolled by informed buyers” with customers turning up to car dealerships “well versed on pricing structures and – customer and expert – reviews”. The article talks about how the car sales people no longer ‘sell’.
Additionally, every report we see these days on customer buying and decision-making, shows that the customer is at least three-quarters through their buying journey before they (reluctantly) make contact with a sales assistant.
This is a call to action for managers and leaders.
We need to put effort into the design and implementation of customer engagement processes. We can’t use the outdated sales model.
The approaches and techniques needed today are about:
- Figuring out how we can best communicate the value we create for the customer
(Read more about what your customers value)
- Finding out how to align our resources and information with how the customer buys
(Have a look at the Architecture for Customer Engagement here)
- Not closing a sale, but opening a relationship with a customer that we would love to have within our portfolio, and who will hopefully be an advocate for what we do.
(Read more about the value of your customer portfolio)
- Answer: Why should customers even buy from us – what do we stand for, what is our purpose?
- Through service and experience delivery – how can we encourage our customers to be advocates of what we do?
(Read more on advocacy and promoter behaviour)
Is sales dead?
Sales is dead – particularly if we see sales as selling to buyers.
Sales does have a place though, on the Profit and Loss Sheet.
So why do we have people with sales in their job title…?
What do sales assistants actually do…? Surely their role is more about helping the customer find value, helping the customer buy, making the process easy and effortless for customers.
It’s time to update our customer engagement practice with how customers buy today.
Read more in The New Manifesto for Sales.
Learn more about how to adapt your approach to customer engagement on this page about sales and customer engagement, and leading sales teams.
Featured Image by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash