13 November 2008

Why are selling skills so important today?


There is little doubt that the world has got a whole lot more complicated in the last 10-15 years. Doing business has likewise become more complex on just about every  level. There was time that if you had a pie shop, all you needed to do was get up, make pies, sell pies and go home. Today we have to be part marketing guru, part human resources manager, at times a personal coach, sometimes an accountant, or even a lawyer and then we need to be a sales professional. This may sound overly simple but most people I encounter would tend to agree. 

Selling skills have become more important and more relevant today than ever before. We live in a world that is filled with competition. There are so many businesses fighting for the same dollar – competition is here to stay and I think it will only keep increasing.

Many of us find ourselves selling the same products or services. Our businesses can look very similar from the outside in. Customers are much more demanding and educated and we all need a point of difference.

I believe that being able to sell effectively is a fantastic point of difference for any business, simply because sales skills are generally shocking and getting worse.

As customers we are much more informed than ever before. The advent of the internet has put information about anything we can think of (and some things we thankfully could never think of) at our fingertips. As a result, we know we have choice and we are certainly not afraid to use it.

We were all a little nervous the first time we booked a flight online or a hotel room. Not any more – now it is second nature. Imagine how this online world will impact us in a ten years?

 We are living in the era of communication. We talk, we SMS’s, we email, we call, we message, we fax (less but it’s still there) and we spend time in online worlds. We ask our friends for advice when thinking about making a purchase and we look for security from someone who has purchased something similar because we don’t necessarily believe everything we read.

As customers we are demanding in every way. We have got complex, we want more and more and there are so many other businesses fighting for the same customers.

But the upside of this huge  – if you develop a reputation for being able to meet and ideally exceed your customers expectations, they will go out of their way to promote you and your business and you will have a constant stream of new customers heading your way. I have witnessed this happen time and time again.

All too often someone will spend millions of dollars to set up a new business, then they put some poor kid, straight from school, with no sales training behind the counter and expect them to do miracles. I never really understand this.

Surely improving sales skills should be a priority for us all. 

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