Where have all the sales prospectors gone?
You need to adapt to survive, and there’s no better way to do that than solid sales prospecting. But in this era of social selling, lead generation and growth content strategy, is there still a place for sales reps who hunt down new business, like Jean-Pierre Marielle in the French movie Les Galettes de Pont-Aven?
Many sales directors are on the lookout for prospectors, but they seem to be a dwindling breed.
They’re working in the “customer solutions” department
Customer support and solutions is kind of a hideout for sales reps. Why hack through the jungle in the outside world when you can sit in a comfy seat answering customer requests and following up on leads that fall from the “cloud.” You’re there to advise, not sell—the shoe is on the other foot.
They don’t make calls any more
Many sales reps prefer to say that clients don’t pick up the phone anymore, not to mention the younger generation brought up on a diet of social media feeds. It’s a sign. These times they are a-changing.
They no longer chase variable pay
Dangling bonuses as a carrot no longer works. Some will tell you that it’s because the carrot looks more like a turnip. Others that the world has changed and the new generations prefer looking for meaning rather than chasing the carrot. Others still that they don’t need the carrot—a few olives suffice. It’s not easy to untangle.
They’re at a loss for words
Clients no longer have the same need for sales reps, who used to provide them with information from the market. Today, all this information is a click away on the Internet. So you really have to have good reasons and good pitches to secure a meeting. Grueling.
So the end is nigh for sales prospectors?
Of course not! We’re simply pointing out that the role is evolving. All organizations still seek out the “business developer” and “dealmaker” mindset. People who are capable of creating their own network of influence, reaching out on social networks or social circles, being one step ahead of the crowd with targeted, prepared, relevant messaging. Those capable of going the distance when decision-making processes multiply the number of people involved, who have tactics and tricks up their sleeve when up against competition or joining in on a deal. These are skills that organizations absolutely need to develop and are more difficult to acquire than learning a script by heart, even if it is as charming, poetic and well-recited as the one by Jean-Pierre!
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