In the race to the bottom selling gets harder each day and the customer always wins.
Selling anything these days is harder than it used to be. The noble (some would say black) art of sales is supposed to be easier. With all these possibilities for meeting and influencing customers in blogs and social networks it should be getting easier, but it isn't. Fact is customers are jaundiced by all the noise. They're sick to the back teeth of being sold AT. They don't trust anybody.
I have a good friend who started out in the 1970′s selling insurance. Just about the only guidance he got was instructions to ride the train to the largest industrial estate outside of London and walk door to door asking businesses if their policies were due for renewal. The theory was, of course, being in the right place at the right time wins the deal.
Like all that ridiculous thinking - selling is a numbers game, only ask questions the punter can say yes to, be absolutely confident you have what's ideal for the customer - this was pure garbage.
Paul tells the story of how he'd spent days walking door to door asking to see the boss to discuss the insurance renewal. For weeks he was turned away. One day he'd called on 20 offices in the pouring rain when he was invited in to meet the manager. At last, thought Paul, I've hooked a live one.
"The only reason I've invited you in" said the manager, "is to tell you how F****ing sick I am of you people asking to talk about our insurance renewal. Now P*ss Off and don't darken my door again!"
It's much worse now.
Today the customer is in absolute control. S/he decides what s/he wants and knows where to find out about it.
The only option we sales guys have is to be be where the customer will look and present a credible case.
This totally changes the price dynamic. The customer is not going to pay over the odds regardless of the marketing or the sales pitch.
Those of us in the sales game are all in the same race to the bottom. We have to have better ideas. We have to be better at delivery. We have to have lower costs so we can live with lower prices.
The race to the bottom drives cost and complexity out of everything, and the customer always wins.
If you don't believe me go ask Microsoft.