It looks as if the future of selling resembles the distant past more than recent history. If there is a theme to this new selling environment, it's this: back to basics. "The philosophy of going in and finding out what customers need dates back to 1980," says Schiffman. "Now they're returning to what worked years ago, which is seeing people and establishing relationships."
One major difference between 1980 and today is the Net. Some see it will play a major role in one shift: that is, to deploy salespeople only to those accounts identified as having the biggest potential. The rest will move to less costly Web-based sales interfaces. "The top accounts are going to get the attention and the others, unfortunately, aren't," says Kieran.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs forced to cope with the effects of September's terror and the 2001 recession are now looking on the bright side. They've dusted off sales tricks they haven't tried in years. And they're not sorry. "The marketplace dictated we do this," says McClennan. "I wish we had done it a lot sooner."
Sales Tools for Your Business
Need more help developing a stellar sales force? Check out the information and resources available elsewhere on Entrepreneur.com:
- Sign up for our free Sales and Marketing newsletter.
- Download free sales forms for your business.
- Ask our Experts your sales and marketing questions.
- Read the best of our archives in our Managing a Sales Force section.
- Bask in the been-there-sold-that knowledge in our Tips From Sales Superstars section.
- The Customer Group LLC
(800) 452-9588, www.customergroup.com
- D.E.I. Management Group Inc.
(212) 581-7390, www.dei-sales.com
- Positive Results
(800) 926-5953, www.positiveresults.com
- Blair Singer
(775) 588-2600, www.salesdogs.com
- T.K. Kieran & Associates Inc.
(888) 682-0519, www.tkkieran.com
Mark Henricks is Entrepreneur's "Books" and "Smart Moves" columnist.