Blown to bits: salesman

Artist: Kevin Bewersdorf
Artist: Kevin Bewersdorf

Read it to day, for the second time this year Friday the 13th.

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Mar. 13, 2009 Death of a salesman – Version 2009
By Axel Schultze, Social Media Academy

I’m sure you know Arthur Miller’s “Death of a salesman” (1949).

WHY SALES IS IN DANGER – AGAIN
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“Customers don’t ask sales people any longer for their VALUED opinion. People check everything in the Internet and sales people are soooo misunderstood”… my car dealer tells me.

So what has changed between 2005 and 2009?

THE CUSTOMER EDUCATION PROCESS has changed.
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Customers never trusted sales people – not in the last 5,000 years but they dealt with them in a symbiotic way.

It was basically “Educate me and I will work with you”. “Help me introduce me to your engineers or experts and I talk to you”. “Help me….

BUT THAT IS O V E R.
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Customers – including you as a sales person – found a new more powerful way to get educated: The social web.

We read blog posts, we participate in discussions, we talk to the customers who YOU MR. SALES MAN never allowed us to talk to – actually tried to avoid the conversation. We explore our social networks and find the real users, the real stories.

The next disaster has yet to strike: Executives will find the efficiency of social media so compelling that the “Hunters” “Killers” and all the old “Heros” will be in question in the next 5 years.  Nooooo that never happens and in particular not to you…. right?

This my be true for XYC but not for ME
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When I explore those situations, I hear Social media is good for consumers but not for B2B.

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Or it may be used in the high tech industry but not in ours. Or our company is not ready for that – actually that may be true.

BUT customers in all industries across all levels and all products leverage the connections, leverage the Internet to get the information they want – period.

WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?
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Sales people need to rewrite their books – completely. No more tricks, no more hunting and killing. The prey has outgrown the predator.

But still customers – and we are all customers of somebody else – will need helpful hands in the challenges we have every day.

Sales need to HELP customers find all those details even faster. Sales need to overcome the old and clumpsy “reference selling model” and introduce a prospect to other customers before a sales process is even identified. Consultative selling is introductions to a vast ecosystem you need to know and understand. TRUST is the currency today but YOU Mr. Salesman are the only one who believes that your customers are trusting you.

Stop dreaming about the “low touch sales model”.

Start ignoring the “sales processes” you have to follow, stop doing the 50 cold calls you have to do each day. Stop pumping out emails to your clients.

YES, you will get in trouble with your boss. So ask him how he deals with cold calls and which of the recent sales calls he received he found compelling. Ask him about a company he would invest part of his 401K based on their sales practices – not about the sales they report but the feedback from their customers.

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But this is not just theory; I worked with a dozen of sales professionals to develop a new model.

Now I’m really interested what your vision is how sales is conducted by 2012 or 2015!

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Artist: Kevin Bewersdorf
Artist: Kevin Bewersdorf