Traditional Sales Person;
Someone Who Brings Confusion to Simplicity
The Rockwellian days of sales people riding high with reams of information and enthusiasm is waning dramatically. Information selling falls short of today's new generation of decision-makers who are more independent and self-initiated when it comes to educating themselves on choices and alternatives. "The Internet has made the information delivery role almost entirely obsolete for sales people," says Geoff James. Where strategic sales people create value is to help customers better understand the "tyranny of choice" – too much information. Giving more information (sell and tell) is a valueless selling proposition in most cases today.
Conventional sellers suffer from information ignorance and arrogance; too much of their own information, and not enough of the customer's information. "The abundance of information is creating a poverty of attention. The more information that is created for customers, the less attention they give to sellers, and the harder it is for a sales person to get the prospect's attention," says Gerhard Gschwandter. Where you overuse information does not matter, until it does. And today it matters more than ever because the fiercest competitor for information for sales people is Google!
Sellers are fighting against the new normal – the Internet. Conventional sales people have lost their bearings, compass, and their reason for being in this new environment, and it is forcing a lot of them to just survive on the margins. Sales people in some cases are competing directly with their own website for being a resource for information. Customers will do as much research as they can to avoid direct contact with human beings today. As it turns out few like to talk to product mercenaries.
Many prospects will go to extremes to depersonalize and dehumanize the buying process to be spared an equally depersonalized sales pitch. "With the Internet, sales people will have to deliver tighter and more potent messaging to their customers," says Marc Gale. In order for the customer experience to be positive, information should be used primarily as a tool for self-discovery, instead of a tool for persuasion and influence.
And inexhaustible amount of information is causing customer exhaustion and indifference. It is comparable to watching paint dry. Conventional sales people over exercise their First Amendment right of freedom of speech. What they do not realize is their freedom of expression is curtailing their customer's freedom of expression. Their messaging is drowning out the customer's critical voice.
Information sellers are often problem deniers and revisionists. They try to rewrite the customer's priorities and goals to favor their solution. They disregard the disruption of change, the cost of change, and the timing of change, hoping it will be positively glossed over in the light of such an exciting future solution and positive transformation. Alas, at the same time time, customers come to their senses and deals come to a screeching halt when reality hits them squarely in the head.
Information sellers have a missionary zeal. They sell as if they have a moral product imperative to change the lives of their customers for the better. Do not get me wrong this is a noble outlook, but with foolish impracticalities. Only a sliver of the sales population can sell this way. Practical selling is simply a matching up of viable opportunities with realistic outcomes. You will not be able to be a pragmatic seller if you are ruled by a zeal of "payday emotions."
Information sellers have been taught to create value and always be telling customers something they do not know. Since the prospect does not know presumably a lot about the sales person's offering, it is automatically assumed that their target rich material of product data is just what the prospect ordered.
But what customers are really saying is tell me something I do not know about what I really care about. What they care about is whether your industry experience can translate well to helping them gain new insight into their challenges. They want your customer experience, instead of your boring solution experience. They need help in identifying and assessing, more than they need help in problem resolution. They want to feel confident that you really "get them." They need assistance in the fundamental areas of allowing them to see beyond what they see every day, but do not really. "Nothing is more rewarding than a stubborn examination of the obvious," said Oliver Wendell Holmes.