The Selling Power without the Search PowerNovember 1, 2006
I like Selling Power magazine. But I have to admit I don’t understand it. Here is a quote from an article (The Seven Qualities of Top Sales Managers) written by the founder of Selling Power, Gerhard Gschwandtner – “We live in a knowledge-based society where information moves at lightening speed.” Uh-huh. Then why can’t I find articles about how to increase sales through better Internet search skills that can more effectively mine the exploding information universe?
By the way, the above quote came from an article written in 2004. However, it is still listed on “Selling Power’s 10 most Popular Articles.” I guess if you’re popular, you’re really popular for a long time at that magazine.
(Selling Power’s online presence is subscription only so we can’t link you directly to the articles we’re referring to)
This “most popular article” never mentions the words “Internet,” “web” or “digital.” The word “online” is mentioned once, but only to describe someone in an “online media company.” In fact, try to see if you can find any such words in any Selling Power article – good luck.
Now, I’m not picking on Selling Power alone. Pretty much all of the sales training world is missing the power of “information literacy,” which is the ability to effectively target and use the explosion of information now available on the Internet.
Mr. Gschwandtner also says in The Seven Qualities of Top Sales Managers (co-written by Maryann Hammers), “While information suffers from inflation, quality human contact has become a rare commodity.” I don’t know. Does “information suffer from inflation” or does the human contact of the selling process actually benefit from the ability to target and quickly retrieve crucial information?
After all, the Internet is not the cause of too much information, it is the cure for it – but very few people (and sales trainers) are listening to that message.
As the article says, “the best sales-training strategy is to encourage salespeople to spend more time learning about their customers’ situations and then invest more time digging deeper to create better fitting solutions for their customers.” And, what better way to do that than the simple process of setting up Google (or Yahoo or Ask.com) news alerts for key customers, competitors and industry topics? Such alerts can bring you exactly the strategically precise information you need to be better informed about your customers’ situations, your competitor’s moves and your industry’s developments.
And how ‘bout the zillions of other ways to save time, save money and motivate increasingly disaffected employees? Are you teaching the benefits of the online tools that capture hundreds of new contacts with one click of the mouse? Are you arming your sales force with the “cheats” to get around those increasingly exasperating voice mail trees? Does your sales team know how to get passwords for those web sites that ask for yet another time-wasting registration? Can they read the most important parts of a customer’s new book in minutes? Do they know how to collaborate with their other team members and their customers by using the simple and free tools of the “interactive web?”
The ability to target and find just the right information that can help the sales process along is one of the most motivating things a salesperson can learn. It gives them a sense of contribution – something they can point to with pride, “I would have never landed that sale if I hadn’t done a search for…”
Krist: So, how has the magazine changed, content-wise? What do people want to know today that they didn’t 15 years ago?
Gschwandtner: Also what has changed is that sales people need to have a lot more business acumen, the knowledge and understanding of a customer’s business. They need to wear many more hats. They need to wear the hat of a potential investor: Does this company have the capital to go for the next 10 months? They need to understand the diversity of business models; there are so many models out there that they need to know which will succeed. Sales people also need a greater understanding of technology, obviously.
I don’t know. I like this guy. I subscribe to his magazine. But, if Gerhard Gschwandtner really means what he says, then I’d say the magazine needs a healthy infusion of Internet search and information literacy training to create real change in the selling business. That’s the industry that he is so clearly a leader of – and an innovative one at that. Keep innovating, Gerhard.