The Death of Salesmen, Really

by Jennifer Beever

Photo on Flickr by MonomoyTheatre, Some Rights Reserved
Photo on Flickr by MonomoyTheatre, Some Rights Reserved


This week I got a call from a sales man with a direct solicitation to bring him into a business situation I’m working on. The call got me thinking about how the sales function – as we knew it – is dead.

The sales man called and said something like, “You mentioned your client, and I have some ideas for them.” I was silent, waiting for the ideas. There was an awkward pause, after which the sales man launched into a fast-paced monologue about how he’s using social media to do lead generation.

So, there’s me, the person the sales man called. I’ve been a marketing consultant since 1997 and an Inbound Marketing Certified Professional blogging, tweeting and working on social media for my marketing and for clients since 2009. I’ve logged hundreds of thousands of hours on social media in the last five years (ten years on LinkedIn).

There’s the sales man, who told me, “I’m not an expert in social media, but in six months I will be.”

People don’t want to be called with pitches when they’re not buying. Nooooooo! The Internet put an end to cold calling for more businesses. Now people want to find the right resource when they’re ready to buy. They need good information (content) from your business, not a sales pitch.

Furthermore, people don’t like calls in which the caller doesn’t seem to know whom they are pitching! Let’s go back to sales 101, pre- OR post-Internet. You need to know the business or person you are going to call first. Don’t arrogantly make assumptions. If you don’t know, call and ask questions. Don’t sell, ask. Get the person talking.

Is sales dead? I say, “Yes!”, as we knew the sales function of the past. In the past, people didn’t know what they didn’t know. Someone had to call and tell them. But now they can go online and get information when they need it. Now sales people should be working on conversions of all those leads marketing has passed to them (or of the leads they generate themselves). And that requires relationship skills and dialogues.

So, sales men and women, you can call me to let me know what you’re working on. But you might also ask me what’s going on with me. Let’s have a dialogue, ’cause I don’t want to listen to your monologue.


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