The game seems to have changed.  The art, process, career – call it what you want – of selling is being changed by Social Technology, even in the lagging industry of insurance.  Skeptical of this?  You have only to look at your most recent sales – or losses.  Whether B2B or B2C, do you have a sense that the buyers, BEFORE they decided whether or not to buy, engaged in an effort to “check you out online”? In this due-diligence process, what did they find out about YOU (B2B) or your product reputation and/or brand reputation (B2C)?  Was this act on behalf of the consumer as common just two years ago (2008)? How about 2005?  Even if it was common in those days, did it carry as much weight in the purchase decision?  I think if you really look at the trends, you’d have to admit that the selling process has changed.

Think about it.  How would you characterize the most recent selling paradigms we’ve seen over the past few decades.  As a B2B sales guy since 1988, I’d say I’ve seen three distinct era’s in 20+ years, certainly with convergence and overlap.  Generally speaking…

  1. 80′s / early 90′s – Relationship selling
  2. early/mid 90′s – Solution-oriented selling
  3. late 90′s, 2000′s – CRM-based selling

What do you remember about the pro’s and con’s of these earlier phases?  What struggles did you have adapting to the changing paradigms?  Any funny anecdotes that come to mind relative to this?  How would you characterize what we’re seeing now with Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs and their impact on sales?  Consumer/Client rating?  Retweets, ShareThis, Recommendations?  Email marketing?  Podcasting?  Viral video?  Content syndication?

My own funny story… I remember when I was selling for ADP in Phoenix around ’91/92, a couple years into it, I got my first laptop and bought a copy of ACT!  That year I made President’s Club for the first time – a really big deal for me just starting out trying to establish myself as a capable sales guy.  Relative to my small patch in east Mesa on the rural areas to the east (Globe, Payson, Show Low) the tools definitely helped me get to the next level.  But I now had a new challenge.  “Where the frickin’ OUTLET around here???? I need a POWER SUPPLY for my laptop!!!” :-)  So much for McDonalds – not outlets!

Stories? Thoughts?

Selling from a hotel room at a conference.