It’s tedious, every day a scroll through my various news feeds, there are any number of articles declaring the death of something in sales, or sales itself.
- Cold calling is dead
- Social selling is dead
- ROI is dead
- SaaS selling is dead
- The telephone is dead
- Email is dead
- CRM is dead
- The selling process is dead
- [Name a methodology] is dead
- AI replaces the need for sales people
- Sales is dead…….
There are endless proclamations, often by vendors or consultants who are selling whatever has displaced the thing that has died. Often, these proclamations are accompanied with faux data supporting whatever conclusion the author is presenting.
The majority of these posts are click bait, they stimulate endless mind-numbing comments for or against the death sentence. I have to confess, self-righteously, I allow myself to get sucked into these senseless debates. I’m trying to stop it, even when someone calls for my input.
Frankly, discussions are a waste of time, they don’t move our profession further, they don’t help us get better. They don’t enable us to engage our customers more effectively. Instead they waste time and create polarization. More importantly, they don’t help us get better!
For years, the majority of data shows decreasing results from sales people. There are year over year declines in the percentage of sales people not making goals. There are increasing numbers of customers failing to complete their buying processes. Customers increasingly look to alternatives to dealing with sales people.
Ironically, when one starts to look at high performing sales organizations, we see something completely different. These organizations consistently set themselves apart. They continue to grow, productivity and performance continues to improve, attrition (voluntary/involuntary) is very low, costs of selling are well managed and in control. They are unexciting—they execute with discipline every day, every week, every month, every quarter.
They are learning organizations. How they execute, what they do, the skills and processes that enable them to be effective are probably very different than 5 years ago, they know they must continue to improve and change if they are to remain relevant to the customer.
But there are some constants in those organizations. They have strong cultures, they are learning organizations, they are “systems thinkers,” they focus on developing and retaining the best talent possible, they focus on continually coaching and developing the capabilities of their people. They are customer focused, viciously focused on how they create value in each interaction with the customer, not wasting time on customers where they cannot create value.
They focus on the fundamentals, driving consistent execution. They do the work.
Too many in sales focus on miracle cures or the latest new technology. Too many don’t want to do the work.
I’m tremendously optimistic about the future of selling. If anything, selling is becoming more important. Our customers face increasing levels of complexity, disruption, risk, confusion, overwhelm, and turbulence. They are looking for help and want to work with those that help them. But it takes work, focus, disciplined execution.
The future of selling is very bright–for those committed to doing the work. For everyone else—well they will continue to waste time producing just enough to get buy, but never really achieving success.