Yesterday I had a lively conversation with a business professional who, like many others over the last decade, is predicting the death of salespeople; or at least a decrease in the need for them. I couldn’t disagree more.
As I wrote Conversations That Sell, I came to the opposite conclusion! The world of commerce—whether it’s business to business or business to consumer—needs professional sellers more than ever!
Yes, the internet makes it easy to buy many things, compare prices, collect data, and solicit opinions.
Yes, many items we need are commoditized and sold that way.
Yes, we have more information than ever to use in buying decisions.
BUT (that’s a big capital B-U-T purposely) that doesn’t account for why we need salespeople. The need begins with identifying what selling is:
Selling is helping someone do or decide something.
That’s what salespeople do…help others make a decision or take an action. Marketing can drive this for commodity items and websites can lead the buyer to specific products; yet my observations uncovered that many buyers still need someone to guide or help them. My belief is that the need for salespeople isn’t going away anytime soon—or ever really.
- Too much information actually slows down decision making for many people.
- Consumers can make buying anything very complicated as they juggle wants vs. needs and emotions vs. logic.
- There are thousands and thousands of sales jobs open – meaning companies have identified the need for salespeople to build their business.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are millions of sales positions in the U.S. alone.
- Predictions in sales hiring are up – Career Builders forecast states that one of the most in demand jobs for 2013 is sales, with 29% of predicted new jobs for 2013 being a sales role.
- Research cannot account for the differences in people – and how they like to (or what they need) make a decision. It also doesn’t account for people’s socialization needs. How many people do you know make social outings out of shopping?
What the ease of access to information and purchasing power does mean is that salespeople need to be more skilled in their conversations, more focused, and more knowledgeable. Salespeople must ensure that ALL they do is geared toward helping their buyer do or decide something.
It also means that sellers need to be flexible in their conversations, seek information from the prospect about what they already know, and guide them to a decision effectively and efficiently.
I guess time will tell what happens to one of the oldest professions on the planet…until then I will continue to crusade and build the confidence and competence of sellers around the world.