The death of the salesperson


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The death of the salesperson has been greatly exaggerated

The art of selling: The death of the salesman has been greatly exaggerated” is the name of a recent article in the Economist magazine: . After reading my blog, then read the article, I would enjoy reading your comments.

When I read the article I had so many emotions; as a salesperson for many years, a sales leader for 15 years and a sales management consultant for the past 14 years, this article went right to the point that many of us write about, speak about and attempt to impact the organizations we consult with on a daily basis.

Quick example: recently I purchased an iPhone from AT&T; first call, I walked into a retail facility: Result: great service, welcomed me to the store, shared friendly conversation, they helped me save money on my existing account, the salesperson even “walked” me to the door on each of my two visits. They even responded to my emails. They had a well organized retail customer approach. Just yesterday I was in NYC, I walked into an AT&T store to purchase a carrying case for my new iPhone, still the same solid attitude, same sales process and training and follow through-they walked me to the door! They had a sales process & system and they were trained in the same mode that my Knoxville TN salesperson was trained. This approach showed me a strong sales focus and the power of salesperson impact on the transaction. BTW: I drove to the store to purchase the phone-rather than buying it over the web.

Sales is built on trust and confidence, in some minor products this can be accomplished by smart marketing, however, where the special B to B consumer or business person are involved someONE must impact them emotionally enough to cause them to take action. Where organizations are lead by an analytical they look at sales as Cost Centers, not Profit Centers. Professional salespeople do drive emotions if properly hired, trained and managed and should be the Profit Center of any organization.

Growth focused companies look at how to capture market share, grow net new clients and increase client penetration levels, however the point the article misses is why have some companies failed or why have some organizations grown? Those organizations that have focused on their front end-(sales focused)- have penetrated their existing customer base at higher levels and added net new clients at higher rates through a well crafted salesperson or sales process map.

HOWEVER: It is my belief that lynch pin for organizations, like Wurth, the company in the article, is that their sales leadership team must be focused on success. They have built a belief in their mission within the sales team and their products and have created a sales training system that reinforces their sales strategies, sales process and prospect buying emotions.

In my blog I have often written about the need for sales leadership to set the tone for the culture of the organization as well as the level of expectation. In fact recently in my blog I wrote that sales and sales management are the Critical Success Factors to lead us out of the negative economic conditions that exist today.

Bottom line: To make salespeople and their impact relevant, sales leadership must take a proactive approach not only with organization’s executives-to drive the need for salespeople, but in the day to day management of their team’s ability to execute.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ken Thoreson
Acumen Management Group Ltd. "operationalizes" sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 13 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout North America.


  1. The "death” of the sales role is certainly not imminent, but it's symptomatic of deeper problems within organizations—issues that stem from not changing processes and skill sets so that sales pros are equipped to get in on the "front end” of the buying process. The sales profession isn't moving towards demise, but rather, a transformation. To quote Ken Powell, vice president of worldwide sales enablement at ADP, "The salesperson of the next century will sell perspective and ideas, not products or even solutions, so like every other transformation that the American—and now global worker—has encountered, the new era salesperson has to adapt, change and find a new way to bring value.” We've heard about shifting the sales mindset away from "always be selling” to "always be helping.” What would happen if we thought about what that "helping” might look like outside of solving a prospect's "problems” (with our product)? Maybe our prospects don't know how to correctly identify (or articulate) their problems, which might fall outside if the scope of what we're selling? Would we be able to help? The next-generation sales pro will have specialized skills, including a high level of business acumen. Gerhard Gschwandtner, founder and CEO of Personal Selling Power, Inc., has described sales superstars of the future as "digital podiatrists” who use social media to unearth their prospects' interests, pain points, wants and needs, as expressed in their unique digital footprints. These are just a couple examples of critical abilities sales pros will need to possess—and, as you point out, Ken, it is up to sales leaders to ensure their teams have what they need to thrive in the future.


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