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Has Selling Gone Soft?

Yesterday, I participated in a panel discussion online at Top Sales World asking the question: Whether Selling Has Gone Soft. What an honor to be hosted by Jonathan Farrington of Top Sales World and to participate with the likes of Tibor Shanto, Anthony Iannarino, and Dan Waldschmidt! After a lively discussion of what, exactly, “soft” means, we decided that it was a question of competence.  Are salespeople willing to do the “hard” parts required by selling? By way of example: It’s a lot of fun (and it's pretty easy) to play around with Twitter or LinkedIn with the hope of selling your service to people who come crawling to you. But that's not the same as actually meeting, face-to-face with potential buyers. Is it? Here at The Brooks Group, we’ve been teaching salespeople for a long time about the power of pull prospecting (i.e., pulling prospects to you instead of pushing yourself on them). Tactics like cold calling are, after all, much less effective than being positioned as an expert in your industry and having potential buyers contact YOU when they need help or advice. Right? We got into a friendly debate about which was more important:

  • Having a relationship with a prospect, or
  • Bringing value to their business.

My real "takeaway-aha!-moment" came when superstar blogger Anthony Ianorino made the (common sense?) statement that having a meaningful relationship and providing business value aren’t mutually exclusive. Great salespeople develop relationships based on offering value. Buyers these days probably aren't interested in making connections with a salesperson over a shared interest in golf or fishing. Instead, business relationships - the truly valuable  stem from the value a salesperson brings to a prospect. My point? Salespeople go “soft” if they’re not willing to do the difficult things that go into selling:

  • Positioning themselves properly
  • Prospecting for good, qualified leads
  • Pre-call Planning
  • Artfully building trust
  • Asking worthwhile questions
  • Delivering value by helping prospects understand their challenges
  • Developing sources of additional business like referrals
  • Respectfully closing sales opportunities
  • The list, of course, goes on…

Though it seemed that most of the panel agreed, it was a fun debate and I encourage you to keep an eye on what’s going on at Top Sales World. There’s a lot of value there for sales professionals. As an aside, the highlight of the program was when Anthony asked listeners to take pride in their roles as salespeople: He encouraged us all to own up to the fact that we're "salespeople." I couldn't agree more! Despite the illusive claim that's floating around that the United States will go from 18 (or 13?) million salespeople today down to 3 million in 2020, there will always be a role for talented salespeople. Let's take pride in what we do! @JebBrooks