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From agent to business consultant: the rise of the new salesperson

12 April, 2016

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Date of Publication: 12 April, 2016
Before you let anyone drop on you dire predictions about sales jobs having no future, think about the 2008 presidential election and the key role played by door-to-door canvassing in Barack Obama’s victory.

Why bother using salespeople when you’re a presidential candidate with full exposure on tv and the internet?

The answer is “people skills”. And the more important a sale is, the more people will trust people - not your website, not your ad, not your service “so good that it sells itself”.

What salespeople need to know is how to put those interpersonal abilities to good use in the near future. The solution is trivial: listen to your customers. For real.

Customers want to be sold stuff

An old belief is that salespeople have a bad reputation as a whole. “No sales pitch” has become a widespread mantra among those who don’t want to scare customers away.

And yet, people are asking for it. Buyers want to know what your product is about: they just want to be the ones asking for it, after you’ve provided some value beforehand.

Finance and lifestyle guru Ramit Sethi’s incredibly long sales letters are also incredibly converting, while never denying that they’ve been written to sell a service.

The salesperson of the future is useful first - and sells after.

Customers know what to do with old products, but have no clues about new ones

True, some products do sell themselves - and that’s mostly because skilled salespeople worked hard in the past to carve product awareness in a then-unaware market.

Research has shown that while the number of sales jobs in established companies is indeed decreasing, new ventures never stop looking for skilled salespersons to bring their products and services to the masses (and niches) in need.

This is notably true in B2B, where buying is a complex matter and a seller’s personal skills are more critical than a fancy online presentation.

Customers are your partners - not your target

According to expert Régis Lemmens, the future of sales leans towards a full paradigm shift. The actual model relies on products and services designed after marketing research, with the salesperson as an agent.

In the digital era this has become a slow, costly process. And here’s how sales can become a key part of the solution: again, people skills.

Old-fashioned selling has already become consultative selling, adding value to the basic sales process. The next step will be a shift to full consultancy - where salespeople are put in charge of discussing problems with key customers and product experts, to co-design solutions with them.

It will be then up to marketers to… put those solutions on the market.

Sales are not dying. Sales are not surviving. Sales are evolving. The new salesperson as a service consultant: sounds like an exciting career choice, now more than ever.

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