It is very popular these days to talk about how much sales has changed. Much of the alleged change is attributed to the internet and social media, but is that really true? Social Media indeed offers more tools to generate leads, engage with customers and for all parties to find and share information. But for salespeople, the need to generate leads and engage with customers is not new – just the tools you can use to do so.

What should you do about that?

Learn to use some of these new tools, and keep doing what you have always done:

1 – Attract prospects.
2 – Engage them.
3 – Convert them.

Same as always!

To say that sales has changed is like saying that sex has changed.

Has it? Has sex changed in the last few decades? Just for fun, let’s explore that analogy:

– In many places women are more empowered in relationships
– We have new ways of meeting each other, like online dating and Facebook
– It seems less taboo to talk about sex now in a more public way that it did in our parents generation
– Kids are having sex younger, it seems
– And more people seem to be having more sex in a much more casual way – without the need for an underlying relationship….

So yes all of these things are true…. But sex is still the same. You can use your imagination to connect the dots about exactly what I mean here.

In very much the same way, sales is the same too.

1 – Attract prospects.
2 – Engage them.
3 – Convert them.

When people declare that sales has changed, they usually refer to two things:

1 – The internet
2 – Sales behaviors

The internet is said to have changed sales because customers have more information and there are new ways to connect with them (i.e. social media).

Sales behaviors have changed because the old, sleazy hard-closing, trick-based methods don’t work anymore.

Let’s look at those ideas, starting with the second. Behaviors.

Very few people have sold like that since the 1970’s. Books and TED talks are coming out from people who never sold declaring these old selling styles dead in the new millennium, and suggesting that salespeople need to begin having a dialogue with their prospects – listen, analyze needs, seek solutions. This is of course true, but it is not a new idea. Most truly professional salespeople figured this out decades ago.

Old mantras like ABC (Always Be Closing) are singled out as representative of a bygone era of trickster salesman, and there is some truth to that – but even this change is not so huge. The fact is, sales people still need to be working towards closing, they just do it more professionally now. Professions mature, sales did too. It is not a revolution in sales, it is an evolution in society. We all started valuing communication more. That is a social science topic for another day, but suffice it to say – not a 21st century revolution.

And what about the internet? Hasn’t that changed everything? In a word, no.

At the core, sales is pretty simple:

– Find someone who might need your product
– Engage them in a dialogue
– Discover how your product or service might help them solve a want or need that they have
– Convince them to give you some of their money in exchange for your solution.

The internet offers new tools that fit into this old pattern – a pattern as old as sales itself. It is the basis of all selling, and the basis of the sales process articulated in my books. It is not a revolution. The internet is simply a new way to facilitate things like finding those people, engaging them, discovering needs and convincing them to buy your stuff.

Why does this matter?

If we decide that everything is new, then we can ignore working on the fundamental elements of selling that have always been important. Why work on things like listening, and questioning, and prospecting and closing if everything has changed?

What has seemed to change in this new generation is a distaste for the work ethic of our parents. We see so many who seem to get rich quick, we want that too. When you dig into it, many who got rich quick were overnight successes many years in the making. If success is your goal, then boil down your work to the fundamental elements and learn how to use the tools of the day to reach your goals.

The core of the sales process that leads to success is the same as it always was. Learn that map well and deeply, and from this context, you can more easily see how the the tools that are available for you will help you reach your objectives.

Otherwise, you will just run around like a fool declaring that everything has changed and you don’t know what to do now, which probably won’t lead you to success – overnight, or otherwise.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David