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Posted: February 02, 2011

Traditional selling: it’s so dead

Let's bury it for good

Liz Wendling

Traditional selling is dead. Unfortunately, many salespeople haven't read the obituary and are still using these extinct selling strategies. They're not offering a competitive edge that separates them from their competition. Rather than changing their approach, they're working harder and longer and are continually reacting to the changes in the marketplace, only to produce the same dismal results as before.

Traditional selling is a manipulative and pressure-filled process designed to get someone to buy regardless of whether they want to buy or not. Traditional selling is about preparing for the battle and winning the war. It's about overcoming obstacles, circumventing roadblocks, and tricking or trapping your customer into the sale. This obsolete way of conducting business is no way to attract and keep loyal customers, and it no longer works in this economy.

Every business needs customers who are confident they made the right decision to buy from you. Customers who feel they bought under pressure and felt coerced into buying invariably end up canceling their orders and changing their minds. This scene plays itself out every day in traditional selling and will continue if salespeople choose to keep selling in this manner.

The path to attracting new customers has become more complex and less forgiving than ever. To sell successfully in this challenging economy requires a solid foundation that is powerful enough to deliver significantly higher value to customers, that goes beyond the products and services being sold.

Everyone in sales - including some of your competitors - knows the traditional techniques. Many use them every day. It's the same old stuff, and years of exposure have made customers familiar with them too. Use these techniques and you will achieve the same level of success as everyone else. You'll remain an average player, not an outstanding one. You'll be part of the pack, not out in front.

So if you find yourself stuck on the dreaded sales plateau, if the daily dose of rejection is making you apathetic or if you're using techniques that are no longer working, you need current selling tools and sales coaching that goes beyond the same tired old stuff.

Enter the new way to sell. Collaborative selling, or consultative selling, begins with a different mind-set and a commitment to creating long-term customer relationships by salespeople who are trusted and reliable resources. The focus becomes the customer's needs and your ability to provide a solution to their problems. No longer is the sales process a battle between you and the customer.

This new way to sell works because it replaces the combative attitude of traditional "push" sell¬ing with the persuasive "pulling" power of cooperative decision making. A true win for both sides.

Collaborative selling is a philosophy and a practice that is being used today by enlightened salespeople, and it is clearly the sales process of the future. Collaborative selling helps professional salespeople build a large, loyal customer base that generates future sales and provides referrals.

Once you understand this new approach and master the steps, your selling per¬formance will improve immediately. Selling will become more nat¬ural, more rewarding, and more fun. You'll find that you can use these techniques and sell yourself in almost any situation. When you use collaborative selling, you get to bury your tricks and gimmicks that no longer work in this economy.

Just be straight and upfront and your customers will thank you for that. Remember, it's not what you sell, it's how you sell.

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Liz Wendling is the president of Insight Business Consultants, a nationally recognized business consultant, sales strategist and emotional intelligence coach. Liz is driven by her passion for business and generating results for her clients. Liz understands the challenges that business owners are facing building a business and selling their professional services in today's market.

Liz shows clients how to tap into and use their innate strength, power and confidence to develop highly successful businesses. She teaches them to create effective, dynamic and fluid client conversations that turn interested prospects into invested clients who keep coming back.

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Readers Respond

thank you Ed, I wasn't personally attacking Liz, but I was challenging her expertise on the subject. It seemed that others felt obligated to defend her and I'll bet she didn't need it By John Wray on 2011 02 17
Good Grief, as Charlie Brown would say. I came back to this article because the link was still on top of the home page. John Wray is very passionate about his responses because the article does sort paint a sleezy sales picture of the "old" way of selling. John Heckers wants to point out that he has been pressured with this question, "If I show you that this would be your solution, is there anything that would keep you from buying today?" I was taught to pace my prospects. This means that I also ask questions up front about their intent on buying - are you fact finding? is this an immediate need? does this project have a definitive due date? have you looked at other products? why are you looking at our company? I would call that clarifying questions. John Heckers you may be the guy I would ask the question in a different way so as to not make you feel so pressured. Trish, no one is feeling stabbed in the back from what I read and I don not feel that you hit a nerve Liz. I personally just wanted to say that I found this to be false. That is my opinion and obviously we all have one. BTW, I listen to a fair amount of tapes/webinars as well as read a book or two yearly on sales and marketing and everyone that I read still teaches to ask those clarifying questions. Why, because if you do not know what the potential problem or need is then you as a sales rep can not figure out how to present your product as a solution if it is even a solution for that client - qualifying and disqualifying prospects is part of the sales process. When I am not a fit, I recommend another service. The rest of my thoughts stated earlier I felt were clear. Liz, my original comments were not meant to attack, I simply disagreed with the opening (not the whole article) - perhaps I should have left out the baloney and just added my cheese. My apologies. Hope you all have a nice day and run into a few nice sales people rural or urban. By Ed Collins on 2011 02 17
It's interesting that you believe that you have to defend this lady. I initially posted my opinion and you immediately stuck your nose in it to insult me. Now RE-READ your insults and then try to tell me again how this all transpired. You seem to have trouble with opinions and your anger oozes out of every post. Now in fact, you can SAY that someone is wise, but I'll give my own opinion. YOUR opinion has become meaningless to me because I don't respect you. Did you notice that I was voted one of the top 25 sales people in the state. Now that's experience and qualification. I DO NOT accept that this lady is qualified to give such insulting opinions about sales people and I STILL haven't seen you give me any of her qualifications. Sorry, but you are WAY out of line and do NOT help her. I'll bet you that she was more willing to consider my opinion and think about it. Perhaps next time you could try to actually read and think about someone else's opinion. I suspect that the writer doesn't need you opinion and especially your defence. I'll guess that it was chauvanistic By John Wray on 2011 02 07
Mr. Wray --- Liz Wendling has BOTH intelligence and wisdom. She has personally been incredibly helpful to me,and many others. Your anger and insults of this very intelligent, wise, experienced and beautiful person are highly offensive to the many of us who have been helped by Liz. You may have been successful selling something, but that doesn't mean you have all the answers. Give it a rest. Liz -- keep on writing your great stuff! By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 02 07
I rest my case. The internet provides completely unqualified people to make meaningless comments. I have been a VERY successful salesman for FORTY years and I was insulted by the obviously unqualified author of the articles comments. She OBVIOUSLY knew little about the field of sales. Perhaps her experience was bad with someone, but her assertions that this is what the field of sales is all about couldn't have been more wrong. The negative comments by bystanders in the field don't bother me because I only take to heart comments by people that I respect. Otherwise they only say a lot about the poster and their misunderstanding of the sales field. As for "intelligence"' there's intelligence and wisdom and they are DIFFERENT. By John Wray on 2011 02 07
Hi Liz, Seems like the people commenting with "mean" and "angry" comments are the people who need this article the MOST. Resisting change is hard for some people and "hating" on a smart women is sad. By steve on 2011 02 07
John, you're absolutely correct about my anger. I'm amazed that so called "experts" get to post whatever silliness they want to on the internet without confrontation. That's one of the main problems with internet information and I predict that you'll see a lot of people who finally start to confront the lies and distortions. Imho, Liz knew next to nothing about sales and that's just my opinion. I guess that you want to defend the writers but NOT the ones who confront the writer. hmmm interesting. I've been an ACTUAL salesman for 40 years and VERY successful. I KNOW wht I'm talking about and I simply distrust "publishers" who don't have credibility and/or experience. I compliment writers who I believe gave a reasoned and experienced presentation and confront fools. I'll suggest that my approach is MUCH important than the posters who have no experience in the subject and just think that the article "sounds" good. The lady who complained about "pushy" sales people is just regurtitating the same old complaints and doesn't realise that "sales people" who do that are NOT sales people . btw, you REALLY need to get an MD behind your name to make such unreasoned and illogical comments. If you READ my comments, you'll gain knowledge. If you get angry, I've done what I intended. By John Wray on 2011 02 06
Liz --- as always, the article was very helpful to me. Contrary to some of the "salesy" folks out there...I have been "pressured sold" many times in the past year. When they ask me "If I show you that this would be your solution, is there anything that would keep you from buying today?" I just walk. I purely hate the salesy tactics. What you prescribe is very helpful, not salesy. Mr. Wray...from many of your posts on the CoBizMag columns you seem to come across as a bit angry and take what columnists say personally. I wonder if you respect the opinions of others that happen to differ with yours. If you have a different opinion, write an article. If it is up to the quality of ColoradoBiz, I'm sure they'd publish your opinion, too, as they encourage an active and diverse group of opinions in their columns. Let's put it all out there for a free and open discussion! By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 02 05
ps, it NEVER WAS a battle between the customer and the salesperson. By definition, if it became that, the "sales person" is soon gone. NOTHING has changed, except the writer of the article who put new names on VERY OLD principles. Not ONE thing new was mentioned in the "article.' By John Wray on 2011 02 04
Perhaps I should have made a distinction that I made in the write up for the article that I received for being one of the top 25 sales people in Colorado; I'm talking about RURAL sales. It hasn't changed much but I doubt that the "front range" people know that since they don't seem to know much about us anyways. Rural Colorado is MUCH more traditional and if you don't do it right, you lose the customer. I've been doing it that way for 40 years and most of my competitors are the same. If they aren't, I have their business and they're fired. Sorry if I expose my bias against urban communities but perhaps that's why more and more people are retiring out here. If we want to go to the mountains, it's still close enough. By John Wray on 2011 02 04
Enjoying the fur flying feedback and needed to comment as well. I understand and completely agree with everything you said in this great article. Many people are taking this as a stab in the back instead of seeing it as ANOTHER way to do business. You clearly pointed out that in this economy people are craving and wanting a different approach. We have all be sold the traditional way and it just feels "sleezy." Everyone has an opinion of what works and what does not, I just happen to agree with yours. Thanks Liz. By trish on 2011 02 04
Liz- Your article (Traditional Selling is So Dead) was well written and communicates a story that I think a lot of vendors are ignoring right now. Physicians Practice Toolbox is a Community of approximately 3,000 physicians and practice managers in Colorado. May I link your article to our vendor page within the Physicians Practice Toolbox (PPT) Community? We are a free benefit to our PPT members and supported by vendor sponsorships. By pam on 2011 02 04
Hi Liz, You are right on with Traditional Selling is dead. I starting selling in the early 70’s. My first sales class was Dale Carnegie.” Five steps to closing the sale” I know you don’t know, but at that time no fax machine, no voice mail. Boy, has that changed. I am still learning to change. By keith on 2011 02 04
I didn't take it as hitting a nerve; I took it as an insult to a proud and noble profession By John Wray on 2011 02 04
Appreciate the spirit of the article--but not too many, if any, new or fresh insights, here. I was hoping for something more impactful when I accessed the weblink. By Anonymous on 2011 02 04
I agree with Ed. I won an award for being one of the top 25 sales people in Colorado and traditional selling is exactly what I do and most of the sales people that I know are the same. By John Wray on 2011 02 03
Thanks for the responses. I love hitting a nerve. By liz wendling on 2011 02 03
Liz, No offense but what a bunch of baloney. Maybe car sales is still like this but otherwise I know of no one doing this. I have sales people call on me to sell their services and products and I am a sales manager/professional myself. We always consult first, educate second and demonstrate third. Referrals are great but you still need to consult, educate and demonstrate...then sell the solution. When asking a client if there is any reason why they would not buy your product or service right now it is not a pressure question, it is a clarifying question to remove any last objectives, to answer questions you as the sales rep may have missed. There are no tricks, manipulations or wars to be won. Yes, you are removing obstacles to a degree. Customer: I am not sure I have a budget for this right now. Sales Rep: Well, let me ask you how much you are spending on the way you are doing business now? This is not manipulative. It is re-framing the objection of budget to be explored through how much they are spending with there current scenario or losing because they have nothing in place. My job is to show them the benefit. To engage them in the process. Feel their pain and solve it. Good article except for the opening. Ed Collins By Ed Collins on 2011 02 03
This article was fluff and didn't tell me anything. The summary could be "don't push, be a collaborator". Wow, not insightful. I want my 3 minutes of time back! By not rich anderson on 2011 02 02
Some good insights....thanks! By Rich Anderson on 2011 02 02

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