Buyers Aren’t Killing Sales; Sales People Are Killing Sales!

Author: David Brock

I get so weary about the endless drivel about the “Death Of Sales.”

Ironically, I never see a post from customers/buyers—even procurement—about the death of sales, though I’m sure many would appreciate it  (a variant of “What do you call 600 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean” joke  —If you don’t know the answer, it’s “A good start!)  Al the posts seem to come from sales “gurus” and technology suppliers, perhaps foreshadowing their own demise.

What’s killing sales isn’t the buyer. It isn’t their ability to self educate, to engage other buyers in social conversations, or even to process their buying transaction electronically.

What’s killing sales is the inability, perhaps unwillingness to respond to the way buyers are buying. Like every job in every industry, the work that needs to be done by sales professionals has changed profoundly. However, unlike most other roles, sales people seem unwilling to do the work that needs to be done.

What’s killing sales is sales people and leaders unwilling to do the work of selling!

Rather than change, adapt, and respond to what buyers really need, and the value we can create in helping them buy, too many are stuck in the same old methods.

We know and encourage buyers to self educate on the web. Yet sales people constantly focus on pitching their products.

We know customers struggle with buying, yet none of our programs or activities focus on helping them learn how to buy, or helping them align the diverse interests in the buying group.

We know people buy from people, yet we create assembly line/transactional processes. We focus on maximizing sales efficiency rather than buying effectiveness.

We know that we have to research, prepare. We have the capability and tools to deeply personalize every contact, every email, every interaction. We know buyers crave relevance. Yet the majority of our marketing and sales programs are far from this, instead focusing on volume/velocity.

We know they new buyer engagement requires new skills and competencies.  But how many of our sales training programs focus on curiosity, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, value creation (Only one that I’ve seen in my experience).  Instead, we focus on the 101 creative email headers, or 2056 ways of closing a sale.

We know we have to create and deliver value to our customers, but few sales people start with trying to understand what customers value.

We know, we know, we know……. Yet we remain fully committed to what worked yesterday, but no longer is even relevant to buyers today.

If we have a growing global economy, if we have an economy of any sort—-there will always be buying  (that’s kind of a fundamental of economics).  And buyers struggle with buying!  If there is buying, there will always be a need for selling!

It is not changes in how customers want to buy that is killing sales.

It is the unwillingness and inability of sales professionals to change the way they sell that will kill sales.

Something will sweep in to do that function, customers still need the help.  Why not make it sales?

David Brock is president of Partners in EXCELLENCE, a management consulting firm focused on sales productivity, channel development, strategic alliances and more. Read more blogs from Brock here.

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