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Small Business Digest


Restoring Pride and Purpose to the Sales Profession

The argument is growing that sales professionals are now becoming more consultative in their approach.

This has drawn cries of dismay from some experts who lament "Whatever happened to the sales profession?"

"Relationship Managers," "Account Managers" and "Product Advisers" happened.  Welcome to the soft-selling revolution - a shift from traditional selling to simply consulting," argue behavioral scientist George W. Dudley and Baylor University professor Dr. Jeff Tanner.

Within the sales profession, soft-selling, or this concealing of intent to appear more ethical, has become the new norm for sales success," they report.

"The sales profession has lost its way- and perhaps its mind.  Business cards no longer feature up-front designations like "agent" or "sales," argue Companies try to camouflage their sales activities," argue Dudley and Tanner.

 "We don't have salespeople," they insist. "We have advisors."

In their book, The Hard Truth About Soft-Selling, a critique of the "no-sell" selling craze by that confront some of the most popular beliefs governing sales practices today and examine what this "client-centered" selling promised, and what it has delivered. 

They believe that "instead of an army of sensitive, soft-spoken top producers, many organizations have increasingly found themselves saddled with a generation of confused, hesitant, over-trained, under producing professional visitors."

They offer a counterpoint to the soft-selling craze, and want to remind salespeople everywhere what it means to sell with honor, pride, and intention. They state that, "successful selling is not attributable to any one style, taste or preference. Period."

Throughout the book, they examine the origins of the soft-sell revolution, selling styles, mixed messages that exist, problems salespeople can experience that prevent success, and then offer recommendations, tips and suggestions for selling with radical honesty.

Dudley and Tanner state, "despite the uncompromising claims of soft-sell gurus, dishonesty and "hustling" are not integral components of traditional selling. They never have been."

The purpose of their work is to show that "ethically grounded salespeople are forthright salespeople.  They do not cloak their intent and they do not have to apologize for who they are or what they do - regardless of their selling style."

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