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The Forgotten Art of Sales

15 March 2013

It might be an exaggeration to say that the art of selling has been forgotten but I believe that the basic element of eye-balling customers is being given less attention. Relying more and more on technology to communicate means we miss out important parts of the sales process.   

 An e-mail is not a sales pitch nor is it customer relationship management. Relationship building requires dialogue. Electronic communications can never pick up the nuances of a telephone conversation or a face-to-face meeting. The tone of voice in a telephone call can tell you a lot, face-to-face meetings reveal even more – body language, the way in which you are received – there are hundreds of coded messages being given out by just being there! Meetings are the DNA of building proper relationships. You learn so much about the culture of a customer’s business when sitting in their offices, more than you’ll ever get from a computer screen – however good the website. I recognise that many businesses today are built solely on remote methods of communications (Amazon, Ocado etc) but also how many have their expensively nurtured reputations damaged by relying on as little human contact as possible (banks, utilities etc)?

 I am not decrying email and social media channels which we use in our day-to-day business lives but we should never forget that you cannot compete with human interaction. We know that selling is no longer transactional but relational. And there is nothing more relational than when buyers meet sellers face-to-face.

 Starting young

 Today, many young people leave school or university lacking the missing ingredients of personal awareness and good social skills – despite having a good ‘on paper’ education. These are essential elements in any business environment and there are plenty of mature adults that can be found wanting too. ‘Selling’ touches every aspect of a business. It is internal as well as external. A grumpy person in your accounts department can cause as much damage to customer relations as a poor salesperson. Every individual in an organisation should undergo some basic sales/customer relationship training. The Olympic volunteers demonstrated what a positive effect ‘getting it right’ can have. Their cheery helpfulness went a long towards enhancing the image of theLondongames and made a major contribution to creating a success story forGreat Britain.

 So I urge people in all walks of commerce and industry to stop hiding behind emails, pick up the phone, and better still, go and see the customer. It may cost more but you’ll reap the benefits in the long term.

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