Does Selling Exist Anymore?

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I’ve been in sales for a long time, so much so that I believe we are all in sales; I’ve written a previous blog about that. I love sales probably because as a consumer I love buying! I love a great sale, when the salesperson really listens to what you want and wows you with their level of attentiveness and personalised service.

I detest bad sales.

And unfortunately, over the years, more of us experience bad sales than good sales. So it’s no surprise that so many consumers view salespeople as possessing some very unsavoury characteristics. Most of us see sales people as pushy, privacy-invaders, cold callers, or those who will go to any lengths to close the sale.

Companies seek to attract and retain people who are ‘hungry’ for the sale, driven, ambitious, entrepreneurial. These are not bad characteristics – I admire them in people – and when combined with someone who is an excellent listener, make for amazing sales potential.

Unfortunately, whilst sales techniques have developed over the years, they perhaps haven’t changed and developed as much as the consumer base has.

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Mind Monopoly

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Nearly all businesses wish they had a monopoly in their field, to be the only provider. To not just lead the market, to be the market. It would provide a business with limitless profit potential, even if it didn’t generate advocacy from the customers it extracted profit from.

Because whilst businesses want to monopolise, customers generally hate it when they do. Customers want choice, and choice is good for price. Different providers in the same market create variations to meet individual needs, which generally drives prices down.

And businesses today have to fight harder than ever to catch the customer’s attention, to be heard above the competition, to engage them in “why choose us?”

So perhaps the goal now is to hold a monopoly of the consumer’s mind, rather than on the market. If you think about it, some businesses may have already achieved this with you…

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You Can’t Beat ‘Available’

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Businesses spend huge amounts of effort creating the best products, coupled with the best possible service experiences to meet the needs of their customers. They will spend vast sums of money marketing a product, showing the customer how amazing the product is and how perfectly it fufills their desires, aspirations and needs.

As customers we love this – we want products and services that ‘wow’ us. Who doesn’t want to walk into a great restaurant and be treated like a returning friend or VIP? Who doesn’t want the ‘free’ upgrades? Who doesn’t want the latest gadget that works so intuitively you can operate it without reading any instruction manual?

Yes, all these things are great but when it comes down to it, when we get to the crunch time, what we really want is availability… 

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The Cost of Customer Centricity

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Lately, the financial services industry seems to have been rocked by its fair share of scandals. As someone whose career began in banking, I’ll confess I’ve felt more than a little let down by some of the activities which have come to light in recent years.

Nonetheless, it was in one of my early banking roles that I first came across the term ‘customer centricity’- meaning selling to customers needs, being focused on what the customer wants. Basically, putting the customer at the heart of everything.

As soon as I was introduced to this term I became a firm advocate of the concept. I believed in it.

A bit about me – I love sales. I love selling. I think it’s an exciting and fun area to be in – no matter what the business is. Over the years I’ve sold all manner of things – from pizzas to pensions, cakes to cameras. I have an innate interest in the process and the psychology of selling.

But above all, I’m passionate about ethical selling and customer centricity. But that can be tough if you find yourself in an environment where people ‘talk the talk’ but don’t seem to understand the language they’re speaking…

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