A funny thing happened to B2B sales over the last little while. Technology displaced conversation about sales. For certain, there was a lot of talk about the internet, social media, automation, and the merging of sales with marketing, with commerce finding a channel in many new communication mediums and the leveraging of technologies. And a lot of transactions have occurred, and a lot of money has changed hands in exchange for value (or something like it).
While all of this hoopla about technology, salesmanship has mostly been ignored, thought by some to have been replaced by new channels, with salesmanship increasingly less important (with some Henny Penny’s suggesting the end times are near).
This is one man’s view, but more and more sales organizations are coming to realize that the value of salesmanship and the need to create new opportunities, the promise of technology and new media being unfulfilled despite their time and effort. These same organizations are also finding that not only have they lost the ability to create opportunities, they’ve also lost a good deal of their ability to win them.
The internet was supposed to be the new sales channel. Social media was supposed to cause prospects to beat a path to your door, creating more opportunities with far less effort—and fewer sales resources. For all the attention social selling generated, there is not a whisper about it now. Automation, which was supposed to return time to salespeople, has mostly been leveraged to send an email to nurture relationships, missing the fact that nurturing cannot be automated because it is personal and requires caring. The toolkit that allows salespeople to market themselves as a brand is exceptional, but that has proven difficult to scale across a sales force (while being much easier for content creators).
Now, the conversation is turning back to fundamentals, like prospecting, like the telephone, like effectiveness. It’s turning to building salespeople who can create value for clients and who can create opportunities and build a pipeline, the number one topic I have heard for more than a year (missed numbers, no hedge against the unforeseen and the unforeseeable, and slow progress in turning things around).
Sales is the new sales, and salesmanship is back in style.
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Filed under: Sales