The Wussification of the American Salesperson

You can’t be a trusted advisor and a consultative salesperson and also be a marshmallow. You can’t be your dream client’s peer and be fearful of them at the same time.

For all the talk about the stereotypical salesperson being a self-oriented brute, the reality is that pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. The odds are greater that you are too soft.

The American Salesperson has been wussified. The evidence is in the standard excuses:

  • I Hate Cold Calling: I know. You are never supposed to interrupt your prospective client. You are supposed to connect with them on social and try to move the relationship offline without actually making an ask of any kind. You’re supposed to generate enough trust online that your prospective clients ask you to meet. This soft, passive approach works sometimes… just not often enough or fast enough. If you can’t pick up the phone and schedule an appointment, you are no one’s peer. You’re simply afraid of your prospective clients.
  • Marketing Generates Opportunities: Marketing is supposed to generate your leads for you. You are supposed to be getting everything you need to make your number through inbound. You are a value creator, with talents too valuable to be wasted on prospecting. If you can’t get your hands dirty prospecting, you are surely no hunter. You are simply an order-taker.
  • Someone Else Should Do My Prospecting: You need an SDR to schedule your appointments for you. Or a BDR. Or some other role that has been sliced out of the role of salesperson. Sales is about opportunity creation as much as it is opportunity capture. If you don’t like prospecting, you don’t like sales. How can you be a rainmaker if you can’t make it rain?
  • Never Be Closing: Wait for your buyer to ask you to take the next step when they are ready. You are only there to serve them on their buying journey, even if that means they take way too long to make that journey, and even if they are hurting themselves by not acting with the urgency they should. The thing is, a trusted advisor doesn’t allow their client to be harmed because they can’t ask them to make the commitments they need to make. If you can’t ask, you aren’t selling, and you aren’t serving your prospective client.
  • Don’t Pitch: Never pitch your prospects. They aren’t interested in you, your company, or your solution. No matter how much your prospective client needs what you sell, don’t show them how you can help until they decide they’re ready. If you are going to be a peer, you better have ideas you believe in so strongly that you propose them before your prospective client suggests they have a need. If you don’t have the next idea, you are irrelevant. And how, pray tell, is your dream client supposed to know you have the next idea? Pitch them.
  • Don’t Be Salesy. In fact, change your title to anything that doesn’t have the word “sales” in it. You want to be a consultant, a much more respectable title and role (even though no one sells or has to sell like a consultant does). Don’t believe so deeply in yourself as a value creator, your company as a great partner, or you solution as the best on Earth. All great advice, if you lack confidence and a strong belief in yourself. If you don’t believe strongly in yourself, your company, and your solution, why should your dream client?
  • Buyers Have All the Power: Buyers have all the power now. You have to wait for them to tell you what they want, normally when they are 57 percent through their decision-making process. Even then, you better be able to compete on price, because you will never have a relationship that is anything more than transactional. The only reason you and your buyer have information parity is because you have allowed it. The only reason they would ever be deep into a decision without you is because you haven’t taken consistent action to gain a meeting earlier. If you believe all that is left to do is transact, no one needs you as their trusted advisor.

You will never be a trusted advisor if you don’t perceive yourself as your dream client’s peer. You will never be consultative if you are unwilling to have uncomfortable conversations. You will never be an agent of change if you passively wait for others to decide to change on their own schedule.

You don’t have to be a brute. Nothing here requires that you demonstrate a self-orientation or employ horrible sales tactics that are decades old and now worthless. You do have to step up and decide whether you are a going to be a peer, someone worth doing business with, or if you are going to be something much less than that.

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