Are Salespeople Going the Way of Telemarketers?

Selling Power predicts that by 2020 the number of salespeople will drop from 18M to 3M mostly due to online interactions and other sales support functions taking their place.

In the early 90s I wrote a column for TeleProfessional Magazine. My book Sales on the Line was doing well, and I was the voice of reason in the field. Stop using such obnoxious selling patterns, I’d write, or you’ll end up going out of business. Buyers buy using their buying patterns, not your selling patterns. Start off with facilitating their change decisions instead of the lousy script, I advocated. No one listened. Until there was no one left to listen.

Lately, I’ve begun repeating my dire predictions to the entire sales field: If you don’t add some new capability to your jobs, you better start looking for a new profession. Technology is taking over.


As you watch marketing automation take over much of the work you once did – prospecting and networking, cold calling and schmoozing, following up and developing relationships – you are now left with the tail ends of the sales job: taking names (yes, they are still merely names) that marketing or lead scoring technology has handed over to you and trying to do the ‘final’ work of closing.

The sales professional is no longer a professional. You’re a closer. The marketing automation world has replicated the main aspects of the sales job: needs assessment and solution placement. But it’s not able to handle the personal touch. It is also following the wrong people in the wrong way, and offering the wrong data at the wrong time, and dropping many of the right people – certainly turning them off by their voracious hunt-and-push strategy.

Folks, here are your choices:

  1. lose your job because telemarketing and marketing automation are taking it over;
  2. sit and complain because marketing is giving you lousy leads;
  3. earn less money, close few leads, and have longer sales cycles;
  4. learn a new skill set and enter the buyer’s decision path much earlier and influence the sale.

Without technology, the job of sales only manages the last 10% of a buyer’s activity – the solution choice. You wouldn’t choose (or need data about) a new house until your family agreed to move, you decided on a school district, type of house, time of year to move, price range. Why do you expect buyers to buy because you can see a need and have a solution?

I’ve been yelling about this for decades. Now it’s time to learn Buying Facilitation®. You must listen to me. Really. Add a new skill set. Expand your job beyond what marketing automation is doing so poorly. Make yourself a true facilitator and Relationship Manager and Trusted Advisor. Really help buyers navigate through their decision path. Diminish the sales cycle. And keep your job. Call me and I’ll go through a buyer/seller interaction that uses Buying Facilitation® and you’ll see the difference.


Buy the MP3′s of Sharon-Drew making live phone prospecting and qualifying calls.

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