The Myth of a Salesman
My father was a salesman in the classic Willy Loman kind of way, without the sad tragedy part. He got up each week, packed his bags and went on the road to exchange his time and information for the monetary reward of an order. However, one thing he knew and stated often was that everyone sells for a living he just happened to know that’s what he did.
While 1 in 9 people in the workforce seek sales in the classic sense, we all “seek resources other than money.”
When I write a blog post I am selling in today’s world of marketing, when I speak at a conference I am selling, when I talk to a journalist, when I refer another business. All of these activities collectively make up the world of sales today just as surely as an appointment for the stated purpose of getting someone to buy my wares.
Few people have addressed the changing manner in which the world works over the past decade better than my guest on today’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, Dan Pink, author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.
Pink’s earlier works Drive, Whole New Mind and Free Agent Nation defined working trends that have become accepted norms in the world of work today. His TED Talk – The Puzzle of Motivation has been viewed nearly 5 million times.
Prior to becoming a free agent in his own right he wrote speeches for Vice-President Gore and helped sell a nation on ideas worth investing in.
While the need to sell in any environment has perhaps become more important than ever, the role of the traditional salesperson has forever been altered in ways that require us to rethink what it even means to be a salesperson.
Traditionally, the salesperson was the outgoing go getter who possessed the secret information. Today’s successful salesperson is a cross between marketer, educator, information seeker and innovator.
According to Pink this is not a change in degree, it’s a fundamental change in kind.
The days of transactional selling are over, the days of solution selling are coming to an end as today’s sales skill is one of problem finding – correctly identifying and solving problems people didn’t even realize they had.
So the idea of selling now must be woven through everything that everyone in the organization is doing.
In our interview Pink cites an example from his book of a company doing a quarter billion in sales that claims they have no sales force. Their view is that they have no salespeople because everyone is a salesperson.
The implication of this idea is extremely important for both entrepreneurs and those that would call themselves salespeople in today’s market.
Is everyone simply a salesperson or has the role of the salesperson simply changed?