Archive for June, 2011

Only Four Million of Us Left – Will You Be One of Them?

According to Selling power Magazine, Gartner Research has analyzed the market and has projected that we will downsize from twenty million salespeople today to four million by 2020.

Are you interested in being one of the four million left?

This projection is based on industry trends and the growing sophistication of software applications (to deliver knowledge) and the continuing acceleration of computer power.

At a recent Sales2.0 conference, Gerhard Gschwandtner, publisher of Selling Power asked the audience to raise their hand if they have ever purchased anything from Amazon.com. Almost everyone raised their hand. Then he asked “How many of you have ever spoken to an Amazon salesperson?” Nobody raised their hand.

The exercise demonstrates that a lot of products are being sold through automation. Much of today’s on-line sales activities are in the Business to Consumer arena (B2C) and many of those products fall into a commodity classification. I used to think that as the items price increased, there would be more need for a salesperson. However, I just purchased a new car directly on the web and only dealt face to face with the people who write up the paperwork and push add-on sales. So my higher price theory was shot.

As technology improves, more and more products will be sold automatically in the Business to Business (B2B) arena. It’s already happening in many acquisition areas like office supplies and some forms of printing, computer purchases, etc. Many state governments and large corporations have initiated on line requisitioning where an RFQ is published and the best respondent (best price, highest quality) can win the bid and the buyer and seller never talk face to face.

So who will need the four million salespeople that are left? Many of them may be situated in call centers rather than outside sales positions. The balance will be working for companies where the buyer cannot capture the knowledge or comfort required to make a good buying decision on their own.

An example is in the services arena. A company implementing a sophisticated software solution (CRM for instance) may need assistance in differentiating between competitive offerings and require sales assistance. Or they may decide on a specific solution on their own, but need a professional services supplier to help them implement the software and in that case they will want to talk with a very knowledgeable salesperson that can make them feel safe and comfortable with the supplier.

To some extent very complex (highly engineered) products will require salespeople as well. I don’t see countries and companies buying Boeing aircraft on the web in the near future.

So the salesperson of the future will need to be a “knowledge broker” more than anything else. The competencies required for this position will include:

          * Knowledge

                Of general business

                Of the prospect’s business

                Of the industry

                Of the competition

        * Questioning and Listening Skills

         * Strategic Thinking

         * Conviction, Confidence and Integrity

So, if you want to be one of the remaining four million, you need to work to grow the above skills, work continually to increase your education and begin looking for sales positions and opportunities with companies whose products are complex and hard to sell.  You have my best wishes for success.

Thoughtfully yours

Todd

Selling is a Snap – A Tribute to Jill Konrath

If you are like me, you are always looking for advice and resources to draw on in order to learn and stay current.   I have read most of the great sales books. I constantly scour the web looking for new information and thought leaders to follow.

Several years ago I started seeing the name Jill Konrath pop up in sales advice sites and columns on the web as well sales journals and magazines. I had not heard of her, so I took a casual look and found that she was a sales consultant based in Minnesota and had a company called “Leapfrog Strategies”. She had also published a “terrific” book entitled “Selling to Big Companies”.

I read the book and found some interesting approaches and insights into a world I was very familiar with; “how to get meetings with people who did not want to meet you at all”. I tried some of the strategies and they worked so I was more impressed. I kept a casual eye on her progress.

When “LinkedIn” started to become a required resource for professionals, I found all kinds of discussions peppered with comments from Jill. She always seemed to have “very thoughtful” ideas to contribute. Her emails to subscribers at her site were always well written and thought provoking, and written like she was talking directly to me.

Over the years I have seen her explode onto the scene as one of the leading sales consultants working today. Her latest (great) book “Snap Selling” has taken her to new heights in the industry. Additionally, today in addition to her training and speaking and writing efforts, she serves as an advisor to the Aberdeen Group and Landslide Technologies. If you follow her on Twitter (@jillkonrath)you will know that she offers commentary and guidance daily (sometimes hourly).

So…why am I going on and on about Jill?

Because I believe that by following and listening to her, you can learn a lot about selling, marketing, connecting with busy people, getting in doors and lots lots more.

And here’s some icing on the Konrath cake. She is very approachable. She answers her emails quickly and is always positioned to try and assist you in any way she can. Like many of today’s ultra successful thought leaders, she gives much much more than she gets.

Tom Peters believes women look at relationships with more depth and complexity than men do. Jill Konrath is the personification of this ethic. She’s a Founding Mother of Awesome Women, a nonprofit focused on creating a world in which “every woman’s voice makes a difference.

So…. If you are looking for advice and resources to draw on in order to learn and stay current, you would do well to follow Jill on her website (http://snapselling.com) on Twitter (@jillkonrath) and by all means pick up and read any of her books. It will be time well spent.

You will find her enlightening, engaging and endearing.

Thoughtfully yours

Todd