The Death of the Death Of

Right now, you might be reading a few self-loathing sales prognosticators suggesting that sales is dead. The narrative they have chosen to believe—and compiled enough “data” points around which to confirm their bias—is that salespeople no longer serve any purpose, thanks to the internet. This, despite the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that sales roles will grow by 6.5 percent over the next seven years, and Manpower’s surveys say sales is the third most difficult skill set to acquire when it comes to hiring.

Others suggest that sales will be disintermediated by technology, that people will choose not to buy from people. Mostly these folks live in around San Francisco, and they dream of automating sales. Their bet is that you will feel more comfortable buying from a chatbot than a human being. Some have suggested that automation would provide the ability to sell more with higher margins, not taking into account that programming automation to sell more regardless of what the client  really needs is what we have spent so much energy correcting in humans over the last few decades.

These seers overestimate what technology provides over the short run, and they massively underestimate what technology will do over the longer term. But what makes their predictions suspect is their underestimation of power of what makes us deeply human; things like trust, caring, and belonging.

Surely transactional salespeople are going to be needed less and less in the future, but trusted advisors have been around since there have been leaders. They will be here in the future, and they will leverage technology and data, for certain.

The charlatans who got to the internet early immediately proclaimed the death of the cold call. Even though the cold call is alive, well, and over indexing when it comes to creating opportunities.

Many predicted the death of the office, and now the mother ship is calling her workers back home. Certain things that are good ideas in some cases are awful in others.

A few weeks ago, after a first quarter that saw more retailers shutter their doors than the entire last year, the news reported the death of retail. Mark this as the start of the countdown to Retail’s Resurgence. I give it 24 months.

For all of the changes in our economy, some things haven’t changed. You read the news, and it is paid for by advertisers. You buy things from retailers, and they ship it to you instead of to a store. We connect and share things with each other, and for all the information available, we still seek wisdom.

Keep an eye on what changes. Make the changes necessary to adjust. Move quickly to adopt new ideas and new technologies. But be careful about believing that things that are still alive and well are dead.

Sales is not now dead, nor will it be for some time into the future. If it ever dies, those of us who possess the mindset and skill set to sell will have what will look to others like superpowers.

Filed under: Psychology

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