These days, everyone and their brother has a phone with a built-in video camera. We all make little movies and put them up on social media. But that doesn’t mean that suddenly we can consider ourselves important filmmakers. It’s a skills vs. equipment argument, and you’re in for a rude awakening if you decide that by virtue of messing around with your camera phone you’re on target to submit your stuff to the Sun dance Film Festival with a shot at winning a jury prize.
How does this crazy talk apply to the world of sales?
Well, if you ask the vendors extolling the virtues of a host of apps, plugins, and gadgets, all you need are the right tools to take your average Jane or Joe sales rep and rocket them overnight to the level of a sales guru with a recognizable brand and a reputation for excellence that others want to emulate. Before you invest in all the bells and whistles, lets take a step back to first.
Of course many of these sales tools are quite helpful—they can save time; they can conserve resources; they can help you become more organized. But they should never be adopted as replacements for skills and experience. And in particular, they should not be crutches for novice sales reps. Those new to sales have to learn the ropes the old fashioned way, through hands-on experience and sales training; via coaching; and by honed instinct, which you can only sharpen over the long game in sales.
Brave New Sales World
We’re living in a new age in sales—no one’s debating that. Thanks to the internet, you’ve got buyers doing more research online during the sales process. They can connect with vendors very easily, using a host of different communication options, though often this goes one way—because buyers aren’t so easy to reach anymore, and they’re going to be choosier about who they’re willing to talk business with.
Yes, we’re living in a changing sales world—and certainly that comes with some unknowns—but dealing with the new sales reality by earmarking big budget dollars for gadgets is not the way to go. Because it takes much more than cutting-edge tools to teach sales to someone new to the profession.
For example, training should begin at on-boarding, with foundation selling skills training. Gadgets can supplement, but you need to teach the core skills, not just put a device in someone’s hand and tell them, “Now go out and sell!”
There’s no Shortcut
So don’t believe the hype when it comes being sold on magic-bullet fixes that make claims that are as hollow as those product promises that have been around since the first purveyor of fine snake oil mounted a truck bed and brought around a crowd of gullible locals looking for a cure-all. That kind of easy-way-out solution is equivalent to diets that don’t involve exercise or eating smaller portions.
Sadly, there are folks out there who still fall for that. But we like to think sales professionals, who are in the business of selling, after all, are savvier than that when it comes to gimmicks. Because there is, of course, no tool in the world that can substitute for actual applicable skills and talent.
In the end, sales is similar to a lot of professions in that you can’t take shortcuts to being good at what you do. Sales is hard work. If closing deals were as easy as flipping a switch, everyone would be in sales; and everyone would be making big bucks in this business without really trying.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. The essence of a good solid sale resides in those critical exchanges between buyer and seller during the sales process. People buy from people—that’s never going to change.
What was true in the old days is still true today: A buyer wants to buy a great product from a personable individual they feel comfortable interacting with; someone who works from a place of experience and know-how and acts in their best interest; someone who not only offers a solution that provides value, but who offers insight, even wisdom, and is invested in relationship building over the long haul.
Top sales professionals may use tools that streamline their workflow, but they understand that alone is not good enough. To make it in sales, you have to do the work and hone your skills; you need to grow in your role and keep growing. That takes time and effort—and so far, anyway, there’s no app for that.