Man vs. Machine

Man vs. Machine - who will make the sale?

The consultative salesperson vs. the computer - who will make that sale?
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2009 David Peterson

Editor - USReference.com

Owner - Atlanta Sales and Consulting

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Man vs. Machine

Machines are terrific; they have been improving our standard of living and increasing our productivity since their inception. There is no doubt that by embracing the industrial age at the turn of the last century the United States was able to become the greatest country, the envy of the world within this same 100 years.

Nowadays people try to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of their machines. Today our modern workplaces are dependent on their computers. These machines when used correctly are close to being irreplaceable.

But what happens when they are not used correctly?

I will give you one area where I believe that machines are adversely affecting U.S. productivity...

The sales process, especially the consultative sales process! I'm not talking about account administration or CRM applications... I'm talking SALES!

Ever sense the advent of the Internet marketing managers have been trying to drive their corporate prospects to the World Wide Web to purchase their goods. There has been great number of products and companies that have had success in this model. Also, there is a sizable number of prospects that want to purchase goods and services without live help.

Why does this Internet model work with these products - because there are sizable amounts of goods and services that don't need an explanation of their individual features and benefits. Books and CDs are good examples of products that don't need live sales help.

By the time I started selling web hosting in the late 1990s I was hearing from these same marketing managers that we want to "replace" salespeople by driving all of the customers to the web. This sounded like a good idea to the marketing managers but it has been fairly unsuccessful.

So why does Amazon.com do so much business yet most products fail to move over the web? Can't that type of website be modeled for all businesses to use?

The answer is fairly obvious - No! The majority of the customers purchasing goods and services want to learn about these products from real people. Most products are just too complicated or there are just too many products that look alike for the average person to distinguish the differences in their features and benefits.

Consultative salespeople will always be needed.

Let's face it, it is quicker and easier to have someone explain the products to you then to look at 100s of different website, each trying to sell their individual products. Yes, you can learn a great deal about just about all goods and services by combing the web. You can't help but become informed by exploring the products that you specifically need on the Internet.

As a professional salesperson I love a prospect that is informed. I hope that they have searched the World Wide Web for days before speaking with me. It tells me they are serious, educated and ready to move forward. I look at it like a buying signal.

Marketing managers haven't given up. They are trying to reproduce the consultative sales process on the web. The latest gadget to gain promise on the Internet is computer generated questionnaires. 

These questionnaires are used to see if you fit the company's sales model. I love these silly applications. Clearly these were designed by I.T. departments without any thought to the sales process.

I ran into one a few months ago from a company looking to franchise. Its questionnaire asked me 100s of questions. Page after page of the same question asked slightly different ways. After about 45 minutes I finally gave up and exited the application.  

Here was a company, looking for talented sales help to help them gather franchisees. They are looking for sales help. Why did I give up? Wasn't I "hungry" enough to pursue the process?

They way I look at it is here is a company that really doesn't want to talk to their prospects or customers. They want to drive you to their fancy website to show you how "up to date" their technology is. How sophisticated they have become. They are more interested in screening out prospects than taking in franchisees.

I wonder how many of their prospective franchisees gave up like me? The chance of me wanting to sell for a company that will not pick up the phone and talk to their prospects and customers is slim to none. In fact what I need to do is to find the closest competitor and sell their product.

I mean really if company #1 will not pick up the phone on a complicated sale then I see market share staring me in the face!

Man vs. Machine - For now I will stick with the consultative seller. I'll leave the machine to do the repetitive tasks.

Sincerely,

David Peterson

David Peterson

Author of: 

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