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Has Selling REALLY Changed?

October 22nd, 2018

People often ask me if selling has changed.


The answer is YES and NO.  

In order to sell effectively, it is vital to understand both halves of this equation.  


Effectiveness begins with an understanding of the selling landscape.   You wouldn’t attempt to cross an ocean on a bicycle, and wouldn’t choose a boat to traverse a mountain.  In other words, it is important to understand what you are selling INTO, before selecting tools and processes to get the job done.


Here are just a few things that have changed (dramatically) about the landscape over the last ten years…:


·      Buyers have much greater access to information.  Consequently, there is a good chance that they know quite a bit about your company and your product or service (as well as those of your competitors) before they speak with you.


·      Your competition also has greater access to information.  So they know more about you, too.


·      Unprecedented access to quick information has made it MUCH more difficult for any company to differentiate themselves from their competitors.   Differentiation is especially difficult for a smaller private company that doesn’t have a multi-million dollar marketing budget.


·      Buyers have much shorter attention spans.  They are short and getting shorter.   Studies show that the average person can only pay attention for 8 seconds.   Goldfish beat humans with an average span of 9 seconds.


·      The combination of information access and shrinking attention spans means transactional selling is finished.   Most other antiquated approaches like feature-benefit, AIDA, presenting & proposing, solution selling, needs-based selling, strategic selling, and relationship selling are all on life-support or dying a quick death.


Here are few things about selling that have NOT changed…:


·      As a group, buyers do not trust salespeople.  Never did, never will.


·      The fundamental psychology of buyers remains unchanged.


·      So do the principles of effective communication.


·      Despite tremendous access to information, most buyers will not make a purchase of any type of semi-sophisticated product or service without first speaking with a sales representative.


·      Research still shows that a buyer’s interaction with the sales representative is the #1 factor in determining which company they buy from.   This human interaction has a greater effect on a prospect’s purchase decision than their perception of quality, reputation, service, and price combined!


·      The vast majority of salespeople are totally ineffective.  

Most salespeople have not changed with the changing landscape.


The good news is that addressing today’s evolved selling landscape does not require more work or harder work.  It simply requires a different approach and primarily lies in the development of one skill.


The single factor that addresses the changing landscape, differentiates a salesperson, and contributes to effectiveness is the ability to sell consultatively.   You’ve probably heard this term tossed around, but most people who use it don’t really know what it means.   In fact, most salespeople that have told me they are consultative sellers do NOT sell consultatively.  Not even close…


Consultative sellers…:


Develop trust by slowing down the sales process and asking dozens of high-value, attention-keeping, tough, assertive questions.


Abandon Convinc-aholic preferences.


Facilitate discovery to help prospects create a totally new buying vision.


Never waste time (the buyer’s or their own)


Continuously explore the “Don’t Know What You Don’t Know” domain.


Differentiate themselves via a unique mindset, belief system, & conversation.


Deeply explore the decision maker’s TRUE reasons and motives for…:


§  Solving a problem

§  Capturing an opportunity

§  Saving money

§  Changing the status quo

§  Switching suppliers or partners

§  Initiating a new project or process

§  Selecting one vendor over another.

§  And much more…


Directly and honestly address the potential consequences of change.


            Discuss who might be affected by change, and how.


            Develop relationships based on caring, sharing, mutual discovery, and trust.



Less than 15% of sales professionals even attempt to approach selling consultatively.   If your salespeople haven’t changed with the times, they are only generating a tiny percentage of the available potential business, sacrificing an enormous volume of profit.                   



Learning a consultative process, then developing and mastering the skill to execute it, will drive sales far beyond expectations.




Copyright ©   Joe Zente  2018.   All Rights Reserved.