Gone are the days of the abrasive salesperson, a talking brochure who delivered features and battered clients into buying – now sales must add value and deliver results for the client.
Arthur Miller wrote a play called Death of a Salesman. A world renowned play that was also made into a film, told the story of Willy Loman, the lead character who admired a successful salesman, who was well liked, loved and remembered by his business contacts. In an age where social media, social selling and relationship building are now king, the play’s insight could be prophetic.
Now almost sixty years on since Miller first wrote the play the UK sales profession is now in the midst of a significant evolution, albeit a quiet one. It’s rebounding from decades of negative perceptions associated with selling advertising space, double glazing or time-share and is increasingly recognised as one of the most critical business functions. If conversations in the Konnexx office are anything to go by, clients are wanting to know how to build the relationships with their customers that Willy Loman hankered for.
Gone are the old parameters of selling. It is now less about how many sales calls are made in a day and leads you generate. More organisations are tracking the number of social engagements and how a circle of influence is built to develop a long-term customer relationship.
There is no single channel this will come from. The reality is that the phone, e-mail, social and digital engagement are all fundamental to success.
In the past, a rep could be a talking brochure and make a sale. Now customers don’t have the time for the abrasive trickery of salespeople who are only interested in ‘doing the call’. A buyer can get all the information they need online. The world wide web is the great leveller.
Konnexx and its client are now focusing their sales on industry or niche expertise to ensure that clients get the best possible results. The realisation is there that a clear understanding of the needs of the customer, a way to develop a long-term relationship and a vehicle to talk to those customers in the way they want and the time they appreciate – is key. It is now longer just about making the sale.
The process is moving sales up the value chain. Buyers are looking for a lot more value beyond just a binary transaction, the sale and purchase of a product. They want insight and partners who can help them grow their business. Everyone is having to offer genuine business insight.
In an ever complex sales environment, the role the salesperson performs when they meet a potential customer, develop trust, understand the customer’s needs, and then create and deliver a solution, will remain a mainly human to human process delivered in a multi-faceted way.