Okay. The wording of the title may be a bit dramatic, but the title is aligned with the new way we need to begin thinking as sales professionals.
The retail sales environment is changing faster and faster. We sales professionals are under the pressure of online sales, artificial intelligence and an increasingly well-informed client base.
The tools and techniques from a decade ago are sadly outdated. The selling strategies from even a couple years ago are running their course. We have the evidence that retail stores are adapting. In order to remain viable, retail sales people will also need to evolve!
Hunter and Gatherers
Around 2.6 million years ago the Paleolithic era humans gathered fruits and hunted animals for food and clothing. These earliest Stone Age humans had particularly dangerous existences. They had to survive a world of animal migration patterns, environmental changes and more advanced predators!
While later in the Stone Age, humans did become more proficient at hunting animals, their nomadic lifestyle prevented them from doing anything other than hunt, eat and sleep. As the name implies, they made their stone tools better, but there were no “Era Changing” leaps.
The New Style
After about 2.59 million years of this Paleolithic living, a few early humans realized there could be an alternative to chasing, hunting and killing their food. It took some time, but around 12,000 years ago Neolithic humans figured how to hunt, capture and then breed animals to be eaten later!
Without having to follow the food supply, they were able to recognize and control the growing cycles of certain plants… Enter Agriculture! Neolithic humans would develope permanent housing structures, languages and larger societies. All of these advancements flowed from the evolution from hunter to farmer.
Hunting or Cultivating
Most retail sales people are equivalent to Paleolithic hunters, “killing” whatever business happens to wander into the show room on any given day. If there is traffic, the sales people have an opportunity to make sales and everyone is happy. When the traffic dies down, whether because of competition, weather or changing consumer tastes, those “hunter” sales people suffer.
The more “evolved “ sales people, like the Neolithic humans, realize that through their efforts – referrals, marketing and prospecting – they have the ability to manage their flow of customers. The next generation of sales people have the ability to create their own valuable client bases, which they can leverage for even more rewards.
Decide to Change
This new sales person has to evolve because they need a new skill set in this new era. This new era of retail sales features shrinking numbers of brick-and-mortar outlets and increased pressure for year-over-year growth by employers. Add the constant onslaught of technology and you have the requirements for dramatically new sales skill set.
In addition to navigating the new environment and updated sales cycle, the sales person will need to bring a new level of value in order to earn the customer’s business and coveted repeat business & referrals.
This new, evolved sales person will also need to take on the activities of promotion and marketing. Directly creating and developing interest for her products and services will generate clients who will work specifically with her. This prospecting activity – just like farming – requires an a great deal of up-front work for the delayed gratification.
The next generation of sales professional will evolve to see beyond the random nature of the retail environment. Simply waiting for customers to walk into a showroom is the result of learned behavior. Having the courage and determination to decide to control the future is what separated Neolithic and Paleolithic humans. The same is true for sales professionals at this time of change.