Rick Roberge, my sales mentor and blogging mentee has picked up on a Seth Godin post titled, "The Death of the Sales Call". (Although I've given Seth a lot of flack before, I should say that his books have had considerable positive impact on my business.) Dave Kurlan, the sales assessment, training and coaching guru also commented on Seth's recent post - saying that sales calls will always be necessary. I agree.
As Rick points out, what Seth doesn't really get (or hasn't experienced in a while?) is that most buyers don't know that they need something OR they don't know what they need OR they don't know they even have a problem that can be solved - until they are asked the right questions by a good salesperson. Rick, like the best salespeople do, asks a lot of questions in order to determine whether he wants to solve their problems. For Rick, it really comes down to whether the buyer wants to have their problem solved or not. And whether they are ready to step up and make it happen. I've observed Rick sell. And as I've blogged, he is constantly trying to disqualify his customers. By doing that, he determines who he will be able to really help. That's what a good salesperson does. (This is covered in Dave's latest book: Baseline Selling, in different words, of course.)
In regards to calling salespeople "buy" consultants or something of that sort, as Seth suggests, I think it is a pretty stupid idea. Instead, we all should embrace that salespeople solve real problems. Good salespeople aren't pushing things you don't need. And B2B salespeople that try this, don't succeed.
The problem is that too many sales people aren't properly trained. There are too many salespeople that start a sales call by going through power point slides or a brochure of features and benefits. If Seth really wants to use his considereable weight in the marketing world, or his influence as a buyer, he should suggest that these people get properly trained. Because if we stopped calling salespeople, well "salespeople", and they stopped being hungry for sales, then we'd all have a lot of unsolved problems.
(Seth, you are welcome to join us here, btw. Then, we can have a positively impactful blogversation about fixing the world's perception of salespeople by fixing the world's bad salespeople.)