For some time now, people have repeatedly forecast that salespeople will become extinct due to developing technologies. Yet as the industry has progressed this has proven not to be the case. So, what’s the trick each time salespeople emerge from the other side of these looming predictions? They adapt.

1. Serve first, sell later

I think people want first to be informed, not persuaded. They want to relate and not be made to feel patronized. Customers and clients are smarter today as information is so accessible through the web. By now, all these things shouldn’t be insightful or jaw dropping. It’s just human nature that is now supported as a result of living in the digital age.

Many companies think that because they are ‘on the internet’ or using ‘social networks’ that this makes them current. What they don’t understand is that all they are achieving is applying alloy wheels to a horse and cart. Sales and marketing is a fundamentally different industry in the 21st century. It can’t be tamed by simply adopting these new tools.

Successful salespeople understand the value of serving. No cost, no strings. Then providing the best solution, and supporting the customer through their user journey.

2. Evolution of the role

Evolution of the role

Since the industrial revolution the main goal of the salesperson was to generate leads and get rid of surplus stock. They were only concerned with the top part of the sales funnel, the prospects. But as the consumer and customer continue to change, this will no longer suffice. This is a key turning point in the evolution of sales in the 21st century. It’s less about lead generation, more about providing follow-up services and fostering long-term relationships. In the book Value Merchants, the authors provide methods for transforming transactional salespeople into consultants:

‘Identifying unmet customer needs, configuring high-value solutions, and then successfully demonstrating and documenting their value to the customer.’

This is where a great Multi-Funnel CRM tool comes in. Think of a swiss army knife for the salespeople and marketers of today, that allows the implementation of multiple sales processes using one tool, enabling a clear visualization of sales across all services. Combined with social integration, a powerful CRM tool such as this allows you to talk to your customers on their terms and analyze data from your web platforms. This helps to foster beneficial customer relationships based on a deeper understanding of a customer’s touch points with you. All details that are sharply in focus on our platform here at SalesSeek.

3. The new norm

The third point stems from research done at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This study led to insightful results that are counterintuitive to a sales industry driven by incentives (and sales), and make very interesting reading to anyone involved in sales.

A group of people were given tasks, both cognitive and mechanical. The first group were offered a lower incentive, the second slightly higher and the third had the largest monetary incentive. The results revealed something unexpected. When given a simple rudimentary cognitive task, the larger reward led to poorer performance. Unconvinced, the Federal Reserve Bank (whom ironically funded this study) went to Madurai in rural India to do a similar experiment. The difference being the dollar value of the reward was much higher in this context. Not only did the group with a larger incentive perform poorly; they did the worst of all compared to the others.

Dan Pink presented this research in a RSAnimation which goes on to say:

‘Take the issue of money off the table: Pay people enough so that they’re not thinking about money and they’re thinking about work. Once you do that, it turns out there are three factors that the science shows leads to better performance, not to mention personal satisfaction: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.’ 

The new norm

Sales can’t be driven by high commissions or large incentives, customers just won’t trust you. Shift your expectations as an executive, salesperson, or team that means you won’t be bound by an old way of doing things. Finally we must realise the value of serving is much greater than the value of selling.