~Joel’s Blog

Everyone Is In Sales?

Did you know that there are 23.3 million “sales” people in the United States…and that these people actually have “sales” in their job title, according to Selling Power Magazine?

Dead stop.

Read that first sentence again.

What about small business owners? Aren’t they in sales? How about entrepreneurs? Shouldn’t they be counted in?

Of course, small business owners, entrepreneurs and a host of other people make a living by means of selling. They just don’t have “sales” in their job title. The SPM article just didn’t include them.

We can agree that there are many millions of people that are in sales. In fact, more than ever before. We can also agree that, with so many millions in sales, succeeding at sales must be critically important to all of those sales people, as well as the firms they work for.

How’s That Working For You?

Sales success isn’t easy, though. There are no guarantees. The fail-out rate is high. The world has changed.

  • For instance, for over 350 years we’ve been writing checks, then waiting for them to clear. But now you can take a picture of a check on your smartphone, and deposit it in an instant.
  • While we’re talking about smart phones, let’s not forget that the computing horsepower cradled in your hand is exponentially more powerful than the banks of computer towers that landed men on the moon.
  • Which brings us to computing horsepower. In the early 1990s, there were less than 200 websites. Worldwide. Now a Google search will bring up “about 391,000,000 results” to the inquiry “Number of websites on the internet.”
  • Typical Fortune 100 companies generate 27 tweets and 3 Facebook posts per week, plus 7 blogs and 10 videos a month.
  • Video conferencing was all the rage and absurdly expensive not long ao. Now, you meet on Skype. For free.

These are interesting data points, right? But how do these changes impact sales? And the sales person? In this one thing: It is crucial to adapt to the tidal change in information flow.

Think Google. Think search engines. Think magnetic north quickly switching south, but everyone persists in using their compass the same old way.

Adapt. Or Else.

Need proof? A few examples…

  • 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations while 14% trust advertisements
  • More than half of Twitter users include buying recommendations in their tweets
  • More than half of Millennials more readily trust the opinions of complete strangers than those of family and friends
  • You can plug into more than 1 million groups on LinkedIn. If you join one per day it will only take you 2,739 years to join them all. So long as no more are created. Ever.
  • Two-thirds of decisions to buy something are made prior to involving a salesperson
  • 90% of buyers will let those salespersons know when they’re “ready”
  • Slightly more than 90% of B2B sales begin with a search, not a sales conversation
  • More than 40% of sales cycles end in rejection of the offer
  • Less than 20% of company execs think their firm’s efforts at innovation actually deliver a competitive advantage

And then there’s this:

  • Most B2B buyers want companies to a have a social media presence
  • But more than 40% of those people that have “Sales ______” in their title are under their sales quota
  • And more than half of buyers complain that salespeople can’t effectively answer their questions

Shift Happened

Daniel Pink, in an August 2013 interview with Darren Hardy, the publisher of Success Magazine, sums it up this way. The old sales model was built on who held the knowledge. Before search, before digital, the lion’s share of information was held by the salesperson. It provided them an advantage. Much of the sales cycle was based on finding a pain point with the customer. Then, like a magpie, they’d pick at it with fear until the customer relented and bought the product. That was “sales.”

Now virtually everyone is engaged in selling. That includes inducing your boss to provide alternative work hours. Or talking your spouse into picking up the kids. How about convincing your small team of employees to adapt to leadership change? “Sales” is now all about persuasion.

Who can argue with him? How many times have you heard some version of “that entire industry is being commoditized”? When did it sound like that was a good thing?

Pink argues that whether you are officially in “sales” misses the paradigm shift. Like it or not, we’re all into persuasion as a daily experience. Knowing this is critical. Improving at it is even more so. Because people spend vast portions of time on the job in “non-sales selling” activity. Money often doesn’t change hands. But time, effort and energy do. All based on persuasion, influence, and selling in a broader sense.

Embrace The Shift

There are lots of things entrepreneurs, business owners, and salespeople can do to adapt.

The first step is…to step.

Staying frozen in time, wishing for the old days, complaining about social media and the decline of all things good in the world just won’t help.

Engage here. Share your point of view or experience. 

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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