The Death of Sales

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

The thoughts that follow are building off of last week’s post entitled “Shut-up & Listen.” If you thouht I took it too far last week, then what I’m about to espouse below will quite probably cause many of you to think “Myatt has finally lost it.” That said, I truly believe that the practice of sales as a business discipline has become at best ineffective, and in many cases flat out obsolete. You see, good business practices are not static. Stale methodologies and disciplines simply die a slow and very painful death, and it is my contention that the overwhelming majority of sales processes I see in today’s marketplace are just that…stale. If you want to create revenue, increase customer satisfaction, and drive brand equity, stop selling and start adding value. In the text that follows I’ll share my thoughts on how the practice of sales must change in order to survive.

Lest you think I’ve lost my mind, I want to be clear that I’m not advocating taking your eye off the revenue creation ball. Rather what I’m recommending will help you generate more revenue, with greater velocity by simply doing the right thing in putting your client’s needs first. I hear a lot of noise about the tough economy, and revenue being down for many companies. I hear complaint upon complaint that capital is frozen, and that nobody is closing deals. If you’re experiencing this type of reaction from your client, it’s not because they don’t have money to spend, it’s because you’re selling and not adding value. It’s because you’re talking and not listening. It’s because you don’t get it…It’s not about you, your company, your products or your services. It’s about meeting client needs and adding value.  The simple truth of the matter is that the economy hasn’t killed nearly the amount of sales that arrogant and unprofessional sales people have.

The problem with many sales organizations is that they still operate with the same principles and techniques they were using in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. While the technology supporting sales process have clearly evolved, the traditional sales strategies proffered by sales gurus 20 or 30 years ago have not kept pace with market needs. They are not nearly as effective as they once were, and as I’ve eluded to, in most cases they are obsolete. Trust me when I tell you that your prospects and clients have heard it all before. They can see the worn-out, old school closes coming a mile away. They can sniff antiquated selling strategies, and will immediately tune out on presentations not deemed relevant. If your sales force is still FAB-selling, spin-selling, soft-selling or using any number of outdated, one size fits all selling methodologies, your sales are suffering whether you realize it or not.

Call me crazy, but I don’t want to talk to someone who wants to broker my deal, manage my relationship, develop my business, or engineer my sale. I want to communicate with someone who wants to service my needs or solve my problems. Any organization that still has “sales” titles on their org charts and business cards is living in another time and place while attempting to do business in a world that’s already passed them by. It’s time for companies to realize that consumers have become very savvy and very demanding. Today’s consumer does their homework, is well informed, and buys…they are not sold.

Engage me, communicate with me, add value to my business, solve my problems, create opportunity for me, educate me, inform me, but don’t try and sell me…it won’t work. An attempt to sell me insults my intelligence and wastes my time. Think about it…do you like to be sold? News flash…nobody does. Now ask yourself this question, do you like to be helped? Most reasonable people do. The difference between the two positions while subtle, are very meaningful and powerful. If customer centricity is a buzzword as opposed to the foundation of your corporate culture then you have some work to do. The reality is that until I know that you care more about meeting my needs than yours, you’ll remain on the outside looking in. By the way, in order to understand my needs you have to actually know something about me…

The first thing to do when assessing your sales model is to take a giant step back, and critically examine the current landscape. You can’t fix a problem that you don’t understand, and implementing change for the sake of change will likely only make matters worse. If what you’ve read thus far even remotely resonates with you, then I would suggest reading “Don’t Negotiate…Facilitate.” Teach your sales force to become true professionals focused on helping their clients for all the right reasons vs. closing the big deal for personal benefit. Otherwise you will likely miss substantial opportunities without even being aware of it.

The bottom line is that the most important factor in creating revenue and building brand equity is the client/customer/end-user. If you don’t build everything around the client, your client relationships will vanish before your very eyes.


2 Responses to “The Death of Sales”

  1. 1 Brian Wielgus October 26, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    This is a very interesting article. A lot of the points made here really gel with the approach successful salespeople take. As you discuss, the stereotypical deal closing methods no longer work. Everyone in this industry needs help from time to time and it furthers a relationship when you can provide that help for your client.

    I fully believe that commercial real estate is a relationship and performance based business. One of the most effective ways to grow and continue valuable business relationships is to connect their problem with a solution. Sometimes that means taking yourself out of the equation and referring that potential customer to a company that can handle their needs effectively. In the current climate it is hard to turn down business but if you connect the client with the right solution, typically they will remember that good deed and contact you again when you can help.

  2. 2 n2growthmyatt October 27, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Hi Brian:

    Thanks for your comment and your observations. One of the hardest things for “old-school” sales people to do is to step aside when it’s in the best interests of the client. You clearly grasp the value of this. That said, the professionals who display the character necessary to walk away from a transaction rarely end-up needing to do so.

    Best wishes Brian…


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