The death sentence on traditional 20th century transactional ‘hit and run’ sales was pronounced soon after the millennium fireworks were over.
Admittedly the ‘trial’ had been going on a long while and the sentence is still subject to appeal by those companies who are unable to grasp the inevitable demise of their tenuous grasp on control of the sales process.
The fact is that the control has shifted to the ‘0ther side’.
The buyers, purchasers, potential customers and clients, who old school sales people loved to give the demeaning title ‘prospects’, have finally been given the tools that put them in charge.
Sir Tim Berners Lee’s ‘world wide web’ had begun to mature and more importantly become rapidly and easily available to the ‘consumers’ – both companies and the general public.
Suddenly it was no longer essential or even necessary for you and I to engage with a ‘salesman’ in order to undertake the buying process.
Once you and I become aware of our need or want for something – and our awareness now comes from marketing, not sales activity – you and I no longer have to interface with a ‘salesman’ to carry out our information search.
You and I are now easily able ‘in the comfort of our own homes’ to evaluate our options without in each case having to consult ‘salesmen’ who were never going to give us an unbiased opinion about our choices.
But here’s the thing.
You and I sometimes need help to make our final buying decision. It can be a little scary deciding on our own; especially if the purchase is important to us or we’re buying for a company.
This is where ‘new sales’ comes in.
You see, you and I still need someone to help in our decision making and more importantly someone to go to after the purchase.
You and I need to be confident in our purchase, confident that we’ve done the right thing, and confident that there will be someone that we know at ‘the other end’ to help us out.
As purchasers, you and I need and want a relationship with a real person who knows about what we’ve just bought and the company we’ve bought it from.
Most of all though that person needs to know about us and why we purchased from them in particular.
This is what 21st century sales, ‘new sales’ is all about – creating a relationship with the purchaser, because the reality is that if you and I, as sales people, get this right those buyers won’t go away; they’ll come back to us again and again.
Remember Drucker’s definition of the purpose of a business?
“To find and keep customers”.
Marketing will find the customers.
It’s up to you and I as ‘new sales practitioners’ to create the relationship that keeps them.
What’s needed now is for companies and sales managers to re-focus away from rewarding their sales staff on the number or volume of sales they make each month and towards giving the ‘top achiever’ awards based on the lifetime value of a sales person’s personal customer portfolio.
And at the same time, they need to stop destroying the relationships created by the ‘front line’ sales staff and handing new customers over to faceless ‘account managers’ or ‘customer service’ departments, where there is no relationship on either side.
It will require different ways of working but if companies really want to keep their customer base then they will have to change the way they do things.
Monthly ‘targets’ have their place but if these customers don’t stay they won’t add to the more important cumulative sales and overall company growth.
‘Sales’ is no longer an end in itself, it’s what happens after the purchase decision has been made that matters.