Interviewer - Jan Howard
[Jan] Terry, I know that you have some very strong views on need for salespeople to modify their sales techniques to cope with a changing market. How would you summarise this?
[Terry] OK Jan, first let me ask you one quick question and then I'll give you an answer. Can you think of anything at all that hasn't changed a lot in last 10 years or so?
[J] No, I can't.
[T] Right! My first point is that selling has changed a lot as well. And yet, many sellers seem to refuse to accept this. They plod on with selling techniques that they were taught 5, 10 or even 20 years ago. They are so "off-beam" with what they are doing, that it's no wonder that their results have continued to decline. Of course, many will justify this decline by reasoning that there's more competition, economy is in poor shape etc
Smokescreen excuses for sure - problem lies very squarely with seller and his way of selling ie his methodology. He must change to adapt to changes in market and changes in buyers. He must realise that, for many direct sales businesses, market has changed dramatically in last few years, let alone last 10 or 20! Mr Prospect is now very well informed. He has "Watchdog" and "Salesmen from Hell" type programmes on TV. He has consumer reports from magazines such as "Which?" and he has built up an armoury of information provided by trade journals, internet and his friends and neighbours.
[J] Are you implying that it's changed for worse?
[T] No, but I'm saying that Mr Prospect is a changed man. He will eat salespeople alive given half a chance. Long gone are days of tough sellers taking candy from a baby. Today's buyers have teeth!
And it's these teeth which have scared many a salesperson and nudged them into giving up and returning to a regular 9 to 5 without stress they were getting in sales arena. In fact, around 60% of those who take on a direct sales position will quit within 6 months!
[J] So, is direct selling today still a worthwhile career?
[T] That's a 100% YES. For sure it's a tough job and is not for those who freak out when they hear word "No". But, it's a wonderful career with very high rewards for those who get their act together.
[J] You've said that buyers today are now much tougher and much more informed - so what is it that stops seller being better informed and tougher?
[T] Nothing at all! But problem is that many still expect to carry on with knowledge bank of 10 years ago, with old hat techniques and a tendency to work with crossed fingers!
[J] What is it that gives salespeople most problems?
[T] The part of sales process that creates most problems is "close" - bit where seller says "OK, let's get this going Mr Buyer" and Mr Buyer tries to wriggle away from making a decision! It's eyeball to eyeball psychological warfare. The seller must get order to earn his commission. The buyer wants to be 200% sure he's doing right thing.....
[J] But, surely closing has always been a problem area for most sellers?
[T] That's true, but what I'm saying is that 10 years ago you might have gotten away with sloppy technique, but today you just cannot. In fact, most folk who've left direct sales arena, would invariably tell you that actual job was fine, product was great, company was marvellous but they just couldn't get on with THE CLOSE! That horrible little monster that consumes salespeople!
[J] Do salespeople actually admit this to you?
[T] Too right! If I've heard this tale once, I've heard it a thousand times!
[J] Are you laying blame at foot of seller?
[T] Not really. Many times it's not his fault. He may have been trained by his well-meaning sales manager who was trained by his sales manager who was trained by his sales manager, and so on.... You could be talking of technique and methodology that's 30 years old here! And poor seller is sent out in tough markets of today and told "Go for it!"