Throughout history, selling has been in a constant state of evolution. It has changed in response to market forces, customer attitudes, and social pressures. Salespeople have always found themselves in the position of having to adapt to those changes. However, the past decades have seen an unprecedented wave of changes that impact selling. Never before have salespeople had to adapt to so much, so quickly. While some of those changes are obvious, others are more subtle. Nevertheless, salespeople still have to respond to all changes, large and small. Below you'll find some of those changes, and their impact on the art of selling.
The Information Age
The explosive growth of the internet and mobile devices has created a customer base that has more information and options. They can fact check a salesperson in real-time, and shop for better prices while standing on the sales floor. If they don't like the treatment or prices they're being offered in the store, they can simply purchase the product online while still standing with the salesperson. People who choose selling as their trade must learn to adapt to this new paradigm, or risk losing customers. Engagement, interaction, and understanding are the keys to adaptation. Salespeople must learn to listen to customers so they can better understand the customer's motivators to buy.
Not too long ago, customer information existed in the salesperson's head or on slips of paper. This limited the amount of information available, and the number of customers an individual salesperson could manage. Advanced CRM software has made it possible for every salesperson to track thousands of pieces of information on hundreds of customers. When it comes to selling, information is vital. Having this information available in a usable format makes it much easier to tailor individual shopper experiences. Salespeople need to invest the time and effort to make sure they're putting good information into the CRM system.
One of the biggest changes to selling is the diverse age groups that now make up the customer base. In any given day, salespeople may interact with Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and more. Each generation brings its own conceptions and expectations into the shopping experience. These attitudes can be complementary or contradictory. How the salesperson approaches each generation will determine the success of the sale. This is one area where buyer personas are an important adaptation. Salespeople must practice dealing with people of all ages, from jaded youth to seasoned elders. Practicing these interactions in the training room will help ensure success on the sales floor.
The More things Change...
Selling will never be a static profession. There will always be new changes and challenges that salespeople will have to adapt to. One of the few things that won't change is the need to provide positive, valuable experiences for the customers. Selling should always focus on the customer's needs and expectations, and that's not likely to change.