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Rumors Of My Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

by David Brock on April 14th, 2015
Mark Twain

I’m a sales professional.

I’m disturbed by the persistent rumors–or, perhaps, wishful thinking about my death.

I’m still alive and thriving!

My customers recognize that I create great value for them.

My customers view me as a critical partner in their success.

My customers recognize that I understand their business, their customers, their markets.

My customers expect me to challenge them with new ideas, opportunities, and ways to grow their business.

My customers are anxious to talk to me, often initiating the conversations because they value my views.

They don’t buy every idea I have, but they want to hear them.

They sometimes buy from others–like me.  But that’s fair–we are all trying to help our customers grow and thrive.

We know if they do, it will provide us opportunities to grow and thrive, as well.

When I lose to another sales professional, I’m disappointed, but find myself driven to be better than them the next time.

There are those threatened with extinction:

There are people who thought they were sales people that are dying–thankfully!

They are the ones that thought selling was about them and their products.

They are the ones driven only by their quota and commissions.

They are the one’s that haven’t recognized the world has changed, that buying has changed.

They are too busy thinking about themselves and what they want to do, to recognize what the customer needs.

They are doing the same things they did 10 years ago, perhaps with a veneer of technology making them appear more current.

What they do and how they do it is very different than what I do and how I do it–so I’m embarrassed to call them sales people.

They are stuck in an image of the past.  They are consumed with wishful thinking about the way things used to be.

They whine and complain, it’s never their fault, it’s the customer, it’s the product, it’s always something else.

They don’t realize they are caricatures of a world long past.

They’ve been left behind, they don’t learn, they don’t change, they don’t adapt.

In some ways, they are helpful.  It helps my customers see how different I really am, and why they need me–not them.

In some ways, they make my life a little difficult.  Because they call themselves sales people, until my customers see how different I am, it sometimes causes difficulty in engaging them.

That’s OK, I don’t have to worry about them, I never lose to them, because they are irrelevant to the customer.

Then there are the hacks, the charlatans.  We don’t need to spend any time on them.  They have never been relevant.

Sales professionals thrive:

Has my job changed over the past few years?  Absolutely!  And that’s what makes it so exciting to be a sales professional.

I have to continually learn and improve.

And my job will have changed again next year and the following year.  If my customers are changing, it stands to reason that I have to change as well.

And I’m driving the change where I can.  To be the best in my profession, I have to stay in front, I have to innovate–both for my customers and for myself.

Has my job moved from the outside–face to face, to the inside?  Well, yes and no–but is that even a relevant distinction?  I want to maximize my impact, leverage both my time and my customers’ so I will engage them in the manners most effective for them and me.

Is technology making my job less important?  No!  Technology is enabling me to do more for my customers, to extend my capabilities, to help my customer see things they may have never seen before.  Technology is a tool I leverage, but it will be a long time before it can displace relationships, trust, problem solving, critical thinking, people to people collaboration—that’s part of what makes me a value sales professional.

Will there be a need for fewer people like me?  I don’t think so, as long as organizations have tough problems to solve, they need people to teach them new things, to help them see where they are blind, to help them understand the need to change, and to support them in their change efforts.

As long as our companies need someone accountable for driving revenue growth, growing relationships with customers, acquiring new customers, there will be a need for people like me.

And I think these needs are growing, so I’m very optimistic for the future of sales professionals.

We may go by different names, we may be called something other than sales people, but that doesn’t change what we do and the impact we have on our customers and our organizations.

No, rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated.  I’m alive, thriving, growing!  That’s what makes me a sales professional.

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  1. Doug Schmidt permalink

    Dave, I love your post. As my friend may say – “Never ever give up & Keep attacking!”

  2. John Sterrett permalink

    Dave, I have to agree with you – and not.

    Those Sales Rep positions that never required skill, perseverance, technical know how and problem solving skills, THOSE are dead. Think Appliance Sales, Car Sales, or most other commodities. The advent of technology and the global marketplace have almost driven these to extinction, or at the very least evolution into something else. The shotgun method of sales is a thing of the past.

    However, I completely agree that if you are adaptable, capable, focused, driven, empathetic, diligent and do the things that place you in a position to capitalize on good fortune, you will not only survive as a Sales Rep, but you will THRIVE.

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