Friday, March 06, 2009

Best Marketing Practice : The Death of a Salesman

"Sir, I don't want to be in sales " :- This is a common statement made by most of the MBA students during the placement season. Sales Jobs are counted as the last desperate option by most of the management students. Recession or not, Sales Jobs were never in vogue.

That is one side of the story.

Yesterday I went to a new generation bank. Suddenly I was surrounded by a couple of staffs asking me whether I would be interested in starting an SIP. I said I need time to think about it but the staffs keep on pressurizing even stooping down to plain begging.

Sales Function is now passing through one of the worst phase since its evolution. Marketers are responsible for this downfall of one of the most critical functions of a company. Sales is the point where the company meets its customers. It is the ultimate moment of truth for any firm. But it is sad that this function has stooped down to a point of no return.

In office and public forums, complaints are galore about the high pressure selling tactics unprofessionally implemented by firms. Call center executives calling up prospects and just blurting out their sales talks without even seeking permission. Insurance Executives trying to sell products that consumer doesn't need. All these have created so much irritation among consumers that it is now difficult for a sales person to get even an appointment.

Consumers have become more offensive than defensive . Historically consumers hate being sold . Now they have taken up arms against the salesperson's high pressure sales appoach.

It is a truth that organizations cannot survive without Selling Function. It is also true that sometimes consumers have to be persuaded to buy products. Sales Managers have to realize that things are getting out of their hands.

It is time to go back to the basics.

Have you ever met a sales guy who have asked relevant questions before making his sales presentation ?
Have you ever met a sales person who refused to sell a product because he thinks it will not match your requirement ?

Have you ever met a sales person who suggest competitor's product because it suits you better ?

Have you ever sat through a sales talk and actually liked the talk?

These situations have become rare. Because firms doesn't have a plan for the customers. Sales professionals are too much bothered about numbers that they don't spent a time thinking about their customers. Understanding consumers is the last thing in the mind of the salespeople.
Just by changing the designation to Relationship Manager will not create relationships. It needs to be ingrained in the sales person's attitude and approach.

It all boils down to developing an ethical sales culture in organizations. It takes lot of courage to resist selling wrong products to wrong consumers. It takes lot of pain to think long term and suffer short term loss of sales. It takes lot of investment to create a customer and retain him compared to selling and forgetting .

The era of foot-in-the- door sales approach is over. Consumers have more information than the sales professionals. They are acutely aware of the positives and negatives of offers. Hence it is time we move to the real spirit of sales.

Let marketers take a vow not to mis-sell. Let us try understand the consumer and then offer solutions. Let the sales persons be given the courage of losing a sale and gaining a consumer. Let us view consumers as humans than sales figures.Let us first take permission and then sell.
Let the sales professional be evaluated on qualitative terms more than plain figures. Let the organizations have the courage to think beyong quarterly sales figures.

The ultimate success of sales function is where consumers call up the company to fix appoinment with the sales professionals. Can you ever dream of such a situation ?

Let us try to sell well and sell good.