The Ghost of Salesmen Past
A look at Selling and how to Improve our Methods
In a world filled with digital and social media, many of the ‘old ways’ of selling have fallen to the wayside. The percentage of sales made from door-to-door visits has become almost nil. Cold calling is a thing of the past. And in-person sales have begun to plummet as clients become more and more accustomed to finding their needs through online portals. Furthermore, online selling has tripled since the on-set of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Momentum that, in my opinion, will not slow down until the next evolution of the internet occurs. All of this in mind, what parts of the old selling methods should we leave to die in the past. And which ones should we pull forward to the present?
Well, I think it’s obvious which parts need to be left in the grave. It’s the archaic methodology of selling, or the ‘how’ we sell that should be left to Rest In Peace. People, especially in the United States, don’t like strangers coming to their door. That is unless they are bearing food from a favored nearby restaurant. Recognizing this, we have to adapt to meeting people where they want to be met. So don’t waste marketing dollars on door-to-door or cold calls because those are Ghosts of Salesmen Past, and need to be left as ghosts.
What we should take from the past, however, is the connection to our customers. You see, even though people seem, from the outside, like they don’t want interpersonal relationships with anyone except their close friends and family, people desire to be known and acknowledged by others, even strangers. That’s why Social Media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn allow people to ‘Like’ posts and ‘follow’ users. It’s acknowledgement. People want to be seen and known, and seeing that, we should continue to get to know our customers on a more intimate level. Like the salespeople of old once did, we should know them by name. We should know their hobbies and their families and their traditions, because though we let the method die we need to hold on to the reason the method worked in the first place. Connection.
So what should we do to revamp the way we do sales as we seek to connect with our customers? Well, the answers to that question are infinite, but here are a few that we can chew on for today.
Form Customer Relationships
First, we need to have a system in place to create and maintain a good customer relationship. I know some people disagree with which customers deserve that kind of time and commitment and I won’t argue those sides here, but as a salesperson, administrator or owner, you need to be doing some kind of interpersonal connecting with customers to keep that bridge between them and your company strong. Patricia Fripp is an American Author and Sales Presentation Skills Trainer. She said “To build a long-term, successful enterprise, when you don’t close a sale, open a relationship”. To her point, even if you don’t make the sale, make a friend. When people realize that you see them as more than a number or a statistic they stop and pay attention. At that point, you’ll have already formed a strong foundation to start from.
Mary Kay Ash was the founder of the Mary Kay Cosmetic line. She once said, “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important’. Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life”. ‘Make me feel important,’ is a selling technique that has dissipated in our fast paced world, but it is what sets good salespeople apart from GREAT salespeople. Connection.
Second, I would suggest reallocating those door-to-door and cold call efforts in more effective ways for the times. E-blasts and Social Media posts are the best way to do this in today’s culture. I would suggest two emails a month so that you don’t overwhelm your subscribers, but you still keep them engaged. We do ours at the beginning and the middle of the month. The second part of that is writing blogs, just like this one, that is designed for customers and other viewers who want to know more about what you do and stand for. Those emails should give good information and resources that are relevant to your industry. They should draw your customers and should draw them back to your website. These blogs should be interesting, just long enough to catch Google’s eye but not so wordy that you lose the attention of the reader. Connection.
Lastly, use the internet and apps that are here to make your life easier! Marcus Sheridan, author of ‘They Ask, You Answer’ wrote, “In today’s business environment, a company’s website is the key to their entire business”. This statement is so true because our world is engulfed in the internet. Sometimes, having no connection to the internet is worse than having no electricity! And your website is like your brick and mortar for anyone under the age of sixty. A place for them to ‘come’ where their needs can be met. They should be able to speak to a representative, see what you offer by browsing your ‘catalog’, be able to get to know your sales staff and management, and even discover more about your company’s history and growth. After typing all of that I realize, it’s better than your brick and mortar!
And that doesn’t even touch on the millions of avenues available through mobile devices and other internet inspired functions. – If you are in the business of selling and you don’t have an online store, you are missing out on sales.
– If you are a restaurant and you don’t use delivery apps, you are missing out on sales.
– If you aren’t utilizing the most prominent avenues to generate sales for yourself or your company, you are missing out on sales. Make these modern avenues work for you!
So let us let go of the Ghosts of Salesmen Past, or Salespeople as it were, and let’s become Salespeople of Today. Let’s bring that same high energy and enthusiasm to selling in the 21st century! Get out there and connect to people in such a way that they want to seek you out. That they want to buy your product. That they want to work with you. Join me in making sales personal again, as we look forward to a brighter tomorrow!
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