Don’t forget that I was born in the mid-40’s; it is a key element in the post. I have no idea what selling was like in the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s. I was too busy growing up, going to school, and helping Uncle Sam bury the mistake in Viet Nam.
Selling in the 70’s was pretty much show and tell. Prospects were used to that approach and, for that time, it did work. I can never forget actually reading, off a card, what I was verbally telling a doctor as I pitched a drug! Archaic! The 80’s began the changes in selling, although I wasn’t really a part of that. In my 80’s career I was fortunate enough to sell a product that every doctor wanted, regardless of cost, so the selling did involve a fair amount of cherry picking, at least until competition made an appearance.
The 90’s represented a transition in the selling process. Companies began to sense that their salespeople needed training so they invested money in various programs. The buzz words were “listen”, “ask questions”, “understand needs” etc. Good stuff and absolutely necessary to selling. The first decade of this century may provide a slightly different venue and sometimes a different prospect.
A friend of mine made a sales call some months ago on a company where the owners were both 30 years old. In fact most of the employees weren’t much older with a few, as my friend mentioned, who barely could produce facial hair. My friend (Bob, age 50 something) did not get the business but later found out that the person who did close the deal did so using a PowerPoint presentation. As Bob so eloquently put it, “whoopdedooda-done in by PowerPoint.”
And the point? Some of the people running companies today grew up on the web. They like and in some cases need to buy from salespeople who present their solutions via an electronic medium. Should that necessarily be the right way to buy? The word “should” is irrelevant! That’s the way it is-period. It is up to salespeople to adapt to the times. The principles of sales don’t change but the delivery of information will change.
The Final Word: “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” H.G. Wells