Don’t Be A Pigeon (Why Selling Is Dead)

February 24, 2011

Traditional selling techniques are no longer effective in the twenty-first century. A study conducted by Harvard Business Review revealed that only 1 in 250 salespeople actually creates positive economic impact for their companies, and less than 37% of salespeople meet a profile deemed to be “effective.”  It is time to end the traditional approach to sales, where most salespeople are considered pests or peddlers and transform that approach so that salespeople are perceived as the valuable assets they can be.

Through 20 years of research, I have learned that the problem is a systems problem, not a people problem. To drive profitable growth, companies must adopt new systems, develop new skills and apply new disciplines to be effective.  The good news is that companies that make this transformation gain disproportionate rewards – often 5 to 10 times average rates of return.

The fundamental problem with traditional selling is that it structurally places the focus on the commodity value.  If your goal is differentiation and earning margin premiums, then you must work against traditional selling tactics.  For six years, the focus of this blog has been to support the development of a better approach to selling.  Consider this post a 30,000 foot review of six years of content (with the links to previous posts to support it).

Here’s the problem with traditional selling:

  • It is solution-focused.  When you begin with the focus on the solution, you are focused on the commodity portion of your proposition.  As I’ve written before: solutions are worthless – until there is a problem.
  • It views your difference as a “value-add,” rather than as core to your proposition (think IBM pre-1995).
  • The playing field is defined by your competition, and the focus is “winning the business.”  This make the process far more adversarial than it should be.  From a customer perspective it makes it a hodgepodge of “sameness.”
  • Because it’s solution-based, the go-to-market focus is broad; too broad. The approach is based upon “who can use the solution,” rather than on where the selling organization can be best.
  • The sales and marketing approach are silo’d within the selling organization – leading to misalignment, confusion and brand degradation.

A new, far more effective model of selling flips these issues on their head.  The focus is on creating value throughout the entire sales/marketing process.  Rather than merely fulfilling demand (which is akin to being a pigeon trying to compete for a piece of bread) the focus is on creating demand – what I call Demand Creation Selling.

Growth is tough enough as it is.  Businesses can no longer rely on systems and approaches that work against them.  The time has come to change the way you sell – and the rewards await.

Filed Under Business Growth Strategy, Creating Demand, Sales Strategy, Selling Skills | | Blog Home


4 Responses to “Don’t Be A Pigeon (Why Selling Is Dead)”


  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Doug Davidoff, JobShoots and JobShoots, Alltop Marketing. Alltop Marketing said: Don’t Be A Pigeon (Why Selling Is Dead) [...]

  2. [...] is a critical concept for anyone involved in a sales role to understand.  Traditional selling teaches that you should focus on the benefits, or the value of someone doing business with you.  [...]

  3. [...] “Stop Selling! If you feel like you’re selling, you’re doing something wrong.” [...]

  4. [...] have business acumen.  Its time we all face it – selling is dead.  Salespeople aren’t enough to get the job done.  We need businesspeople-who-sell, and for that [...]

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