As a former president of the Sales and Marketing Executives of Memphis, the wisdom of the statement we opened our meetings with is firmly ingrained in me.  “Nothing happens until someone sells something.”  It’s true, not just in the business world either.

But a shift has occurred in the business world, the entire world for that matter.  I wrote about this in a recent blogpost. The power in the sales transaction has shifted from the seller to the buyer.  The sales person no longer has control of the process, and it’s not just because of the worst economy of our lifetimes, although that has accelerated the shift.

It’s because of the combination of real time access to information on the internet and the globalization of the economy.  The buyer has control.  The buyer can learn and know about the features and benefits of any product or service instantaneously.  B2B or B2C.  The buyer, if they want to, can know your product as well as you do.  And the buyer has instantaneous access all the options(competition) available due to globalization.  And buyer’s the expectation is transparency. 

So the sales world has changed.  The “locus of control” of the transaction has changed from the sales person to the buyer.  What does that mean for the sales person?  It changes the entire nature of the sales function.  “Tell and Sell” is no longer necessary.  This diminishes the importance of the relationship between the seller and buyer.  Customer loyalty is dying, the best one can hope for is customer preference. 

The selling process is now all about the buyer and his/her problems and opportunities even if they have nothing to do with the product or service.  Every sales relationship is a complex sale. If you want repeat business, you must be identifying the buyer’s larger opportunities/problems, not just solving them.  No more transactional sales.

Still, nothing happens until someone sells something.  So the sales person is more important than ever before. But the role is different. And the skill set for success in dramatically different as well. 

Of course, I have some reading recommendations for you. First two books by Bob Bloom, The Inside Advantage and The New Leaders.  By reading both of them you’ll understand what’s driving the shift in the sales arena.  The other book I recommend is Mastering the Complex Sale by  Jeff  Thull. 

Or you can come to the In-Synk Executive Huddle on Thursday of this week.  The topic? Sales Success in the Post Web World:  How to Manage Sales People in a Brave New RoleAM Session and PM Session

Or you can keep your head in the sand about things and continue to commoditize your business by refusing to recognize and address this change.