Death Of A Salesman

(yes, I know – Arthur Miller wrote it in 1949)

I’m going to take a lot of heat for this, but let’s just rip the Band-Aid off, shall we? Sales people are dead and any companies still selling products like they did 10 or 20 years ago are dying too – there, I said it.  

Much like video killed the radio star, digital marketing has killed salespeople. The difference between marketing and sales was a clear cut relationship with the customer: Marketing created the relationship and Sales nurtured the relationship. With the invention of social media, this structure doesn’t exist anymore. Marketing now has the power to create and nurture the relationship up to and including the point-of-purchase. Which means that precious “sales funnel” that hangs on the wall of every sales department is worthless. Don’t believe me? That’s ok, I can prove it:

Close your eyes and think about the “stereotypical” car salesman. The picture that comes to mind is the sales man in a suit that jumps you when you enter a car showroom; he invites you to his desk, takes notes of your interests and then recommends a car you might want to consider. The sales man would then take you through the different range, color and accessory options before handing you a brochure and giving you the option of arranging a test-drive at some point in the future. Not anymore - most customers that walk into a car showroom today will have done several hours of research online and usually know exactly what they want – often to the last detail. The marketing materials online have empowered the customer to take over the sale. They come to the showroom to experience the car, to sit in it, touch it, smell it and drive it. The new role of the salesman is offer that experience straight away. Plus, they’ve changed their titles! They’re no longer called Salesmen, but Product Specialists.

Fire your sales team, but don’t put them on the unemployment line – rehire them as Product Specialists, Account Managers or Relationship Managers. Put their focus on providing individual recommendations, advise and expertise.