Do Sales Skills Still Matter?

Has selling changed?  I’ve talked a lot about partnerships in the last few weeks.  Since most of you use partnerships as a way of increasing your sales, I figured the time has come to ask about your sales.  Are they what you expected? 

Those of us in the world of sales have all kinds of ways to measure sales; forecasting, close rates, lead to close ratios, etc.  You probably have some measures of your own at your company.  How are those working for you?  If your sales are in the tank, are you blaming the economy?  It’s an easy target, big enough to hold your problems with sales.  But in blaming the economy for your sales slump, you may be missing the bigger picture.  Sales have been subtly changing for a while now. 

Many customers no longer look to your salespeople for guidance and information.  Customers are more likely to search the Internet to do their research and answer questions they might have.  They’ll talk to their peers or check with your current customers to get recommendations.  But you don’t give out customer names you say?  Using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, and the Internet, in general, they can find your customers. 

According to Axel Schultze, the difference is in the customer education process.  There are other ways now for the customer to learn about your product or service.  Axel says, “Sales people need to rewrite their books – completely. No more tricks, no more hunting and killing. . . “ But keep in mind, “customers. . . . will need helpful hands in the challenges we have every day.  HELPING your customers overcome those challenges will over time give back some of the respect you lost and will potentially give you new customers.” 

Helping your customers calls for a different kind of sales process and new skills for your salespeople.  You need to learn to use social media to open the lines of communication between you and your current and potential customers.  So to increase your sales, the question isn’t how good are you on the phone, but how fast can you type?

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