Death of a Salesman
Why Marketing is the new Sales ...
In Arthur Miller’s classic post war play Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman believed that a winning personality was the key to sales success. In today’s digital age, so much more than a slick sales pitch is needed.
Think about buyers and decision makers. Are they any more informed than they used to be? Are they somehow smarter, wiser, and harder to sell to?
Is it like claiming footballers are better today because the facilities and equipment have improved, remember those old leather footballs, and muddy pitches? Players 40 years ago may have done better in the modern game, and the reverse applies.
When we had jobs for life and gold watch presentations, buyers really knew their onions, and we felt for the inexperienced sales rep visiting a tough buyer. They’d be mincemeat in no time, as their lack of product knowledge was brutally exposed.
Does that hard-nosed buyer persona still exist?
You bet it does, and procurement has evolved beyond all recognition. Buyers soak up information, after all, information is power, and behaviours today are shaped by technology.
Just think how easy it is now to upskill yourself on any subject. When we buy a car, we read countless web reviews and opinions. The first thing we do when planning a holiday is to Google destinations and hotels, for the reams of good, bad and ugly reviews out there.
So, step forward the ‘informed buyer’ (and that’s all of us). We are knowledgeable in a new kind of way. We’ve done our homework and background checks, and we don’t need the traditional sales visit and pitch, because we pretty much know what we want without meeting anyone.
Today’s buyers have done the leg work, the research, and the reading between the lines. They’ve checked you and your business out already. They’ve probably tapped into a skills-based network of contacts, by reaching out to John, because he bought the very same thing last year, and they’ve interrogated the hell out of him.
Buyer behaviour is driven by all the content, influence, and opinion that’s out there for us to consume. Road warriors no longer turn up with their PowerPoint decks and calculators.
Bus drivers are again the only people with shiny seat trousers. Salespeople wear jeans and t-shirts at their desks, and hardly ever go out - and of course, there’s usually a travel ban on! So they meet using Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and WebEx.
Many believe they work in sales, but in reality, they just prepare quotes and take orders from buyers who’ve made their decision without them. All buyers need now is a sensible price, because they’ve found out everything else behind your back.
Just as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein spawned a Monster - our information everywhere world means informed buyers have monstrously large levels of information, and the jeanie can’t be put back in the bottle.
Information is power, marketing is the new sales, and to survive in business you need to take it seriously, or the competition will eat your lunch.
Your products and services may be the best, but if you're being out-marketed and out-sold, then you should take urgent steps to deal with it.
Your web content needs to give buyers what they’re looking for. Do you have current case studies, blogs, insights, and opinions? Because all of this all builds your brand and is key to positioning you positively with an informed buyer.
The dovetailing of sales and marketing has never been more vital, and I doubt many would argue that marketing is really the new sales front line.
Don’t fall victim to informed buyers - up your game and give them what they’re looking for!