Yes, times are changing. The days of fast-talking, door knocking, drink buying, Salesperson are quickly approaching their end. Old-fashioned 20th-century methods of selling are being made obsolete by the consumer’s access to information. People don’t want to be sold; they want to be advised.

Consumers no longer need a salesperson to sell them a product when they can find what they need online. Companies that hold onto outdated titles and tactics will be left behind.

Times Are Changing

Consumers check you out online before they contact you

In an article, and infographic, posted in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette they found the majority of consumers vetted businesses online before contacting them.

  • 97% of consumers searched online for products and services before contacting providers
  • 70% Compared prices and read reviews
  • 88% Were influenced by reviews

Whether B2B or B2C, prospects can find the answers to their questions and solutions to their problems online, and if they can’t find them on your website—they’ll move on to the next. Salespeople are needed less to educate than to advise. To offer sound advice, representatives need to become consultants, which begins by understanding the customers’ problems and recommending the best solutions for their needs.

People don’t have time 

In the 1980s, I managed a home remodeling sales team that spent, on average, three hours in a sales presentation at consumers’ homes. Although this was an award-winning team, can you imagine spending three hours with any salesperson? Today, most people don’t have that kind of time and don’t need a complete product demonstration and education. For example, our 50 inch TV at home went out. My wife went online, read reviews about brands and models, chose one, and then priced it. We picked a local retailer not because they were the lowest price but because they offered the service we wanted. We were 90% done before we walked in the door.

If you’re a B2B and you think this doesn’t hold true for you, guess again. Twelve years ago in 2012, Harvard Business Review shared The end of solution sales, “In fact, a recent Corporate Executive Board study of more than 1,400 B2B customers found that those customers completed, on average, nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision—researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on—before even having a conversation with a supplier.” This study may be more than a decade old, but I doubt the numbers have gone down.

People want to collaborate, not negotiate

Whether B2B, B2C, or not-for-profit, consumers don’t want to be sold. Most people don’t like a product forced down their throats so that a price negotiation can begin. More often than not, people want to work together towards mutual benefit. They want partners, not salespeople.

If you’re stuck in the 20th century, where does change begin?

It starts with titles. That may sound funny, but what someone is called has much to do with how they see themselves and how others categorize them. Eliminate Salesperson as a title and, depending on your business, replace it with Consultant, Business Development Manager, Technical Representative, Product Adviser, or something similar that fits the position.

The next step is to teach the consultants to consult. They must understand that most prospects have done their homework, or they wouldn’t be talking with you. Find out their problems and how they believe your product and service will serve them.

Adapt or be eaten

Adapting to the current business climate can be your business’s life or death. Understanding and meeting the needs of your target audience is the key to successful consulting. It’s not the other way around. The world is changing fast, and those who don’t adapt will be swallowed up. Are you going to eat or be eaten?

New Age Consulting

When I was younger, I used every sales trick in the book and even invented a few. I used these tactics to sell and taught others how to dupe a customer into buying the product I wanted to sell, which was only sometimes what the consumer needed. I’m not proud of my early years in sales. I was “that” Salesperson.

Eventually, I learned that helping customers rather than “selling” them built lasting relationships. It not only made good business sense, but it also felt good. It was the right thing to do. Are you ready to do the right thing? Do you want to learn how not to be a compassionate sales consultant and increase sales while building your customer base? If so, read this book. How to Sell Without Becoming “that” Salesperson

If you like this post you might also appreciate, 5 Things Top Consultants Do. 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash