I don’t think many people in professional sales, or any profession for that matter, would put up too much of an argument to the idea that the way we buy has changed. The internet, social media, more sophisticated methods of advertising, and many other factors have driven this change.
To illustrate my point let me share a passage from one of my favorite books on selling by Frank Bettger:
“But listening has become a forgotten art. Good listeners are rare. Try looking in the face of the next person who speaks to you with eager, absorbed interest (even if it is your own wife), and see the magic effect it has both on yourself, and the one who is doing the talking”
A pretty solid and accurate observation, right? Of course it is but Mr. Bettger’s book “How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success In Selling” was originally published in 1947!
Even though that particular passage on listening is still as relevant as it was in 1947 (minus the gender biased reference to “wife” versus “spouse”) it illustrates a point that I feel is very important.
Many of us are still, more or less, employing the same sales tactics and approaches that have been in use for decades. The target has moved but many sellers are still firing where the target used to be rather than where it is moving.
In 1940 the percentage of Americans with a college education was just over 4%. It is now almost 40% in some States. More educated and informed buyers require a more educated and informed approach to selling.
One of the best-known basic presentation formats in selling is known as FAB (Features, Advantages, and Benefits). I am not sure of the exact origin of FAB but I was easily able to trace it back to the early 60’s.
I am not saying that some of the tried and true selling systems such as Sandler, SPIN, PSS, etc. are not still relevant. The basic tenets of any good sales process are probably as solid today as when they were developed. Sort of.
What I am saying is that the process has to be refined, tweaked, and updated to be relevant and effective with modern buyers. Let’s face it, modern buyers have read the traditional sales playbook and they don’t particularly like it. We love to buy but we hate to be sold!
If you are interested in some thoughts on just how modern buyers have changed and some ideas on what to do about it, give me a shout and I’ll send it over.