Cast your mind back to the 1980’s, and picture if you can the traditional ‘salesperson’. Who is it you see?

Can you clearly see what they’re wearing? How they hold themselves? Can you hear what they’re saying – and more importantly – how are they saying it?

Do you somehow automatically assume them to be male instead of female? Do you envisage the tacky gold watch, pinstripe suit and slick haircut to go along with their smooth-talking demeanour? If the majority of these questions were answered in the affirmative for you, then you wouldn’t be alone. The perspective of the traditional salesperson is typically agreed upon by the majority of the western world, often including even those that are in sales themselves.

But that’s the traditional salesperson, and a traditional salesperson belongs in a traditional environment.

And the environment we exist in now is anything but traditional – the modern business world has been turned on its head in a way that has left the definition of what it means to be ‘in sales’ completely up in the air.

Where being in sales used to be perceived to involve pushy, forceful, somewhat-manipulative behaviour to ‘do whatever it takes to get the sale over the line’, it now comes with a shinier, supportive, educational lens that more and more of the business world are willing to outwardly embrace.

But when was it that this shift occurred? And what was it that the shift was brought on to begin with? When did sales as we know it change its definition?

The external forces that have caused the shift are somewhat simple to point to, namely: the internet. But what was it about the creation of this online beast that gave us the tick of approval as a purchase-driven species to change what it means to ‘be in sales’?

Based on predictable, social, human behavioural patterns its most likely when it became clear enough to the buying masses that the shift in power from buyer to business had become far more even.

Where buyers used to have to take their salesperson’s word as gospel whether they liked it or not, they can now do as much of their own research online as they like – with reviews, testimonials and customer complaint lists available at the click of a Google search.

More services and products are also being purchased online than ever before, meaning the role of the salesperson playing the ‘middle-man’ has started its process of evaporation, soon to be fully re-purposed into a specialised consultative and educational sales role.

And so the modern buyer simply doesn’t need the traditional version of a sales professional anymore – and when the need equation changes, so does the shift in power.

Because the buyer is also starting to realise more than ever that this shift in power has occurred and is rightfully taking full advantage of the fact that the definition of sales has changed, which only ever results in a further firming of the new salesperson-buyer-power model of the world.

So what does that mean for you as a business owner in the modern landscape?

It means that the way you define yourself as a ‘salesperson’ can be far more versatile than it used to be. No longer do you need to feel as though being pushy, forceful and ‘salesy’ has to be part of your job description as a successful business owner.

In fact, such a belief would be highly detrimental to your sales success today.

It means that you don’t necessarily have to be someone you’re not when you’re operating the sales aspect of your business, and can allow your natural, service and value-driven personality to shine through as much as you please. There will always be sales strategies, processes and methodologies that will help you close more sales, but the core person you feel you need to be doesn’t have to change along with it.

Because being ‘in sales’ in the modern business world doesn’t require you to anymore.

It means that the respect, trust and appreciation between salesperson and buyer has also increased, as both parties are well aware of the updated role the salesperson now plays in the relationship.

All because the sales game has changed.

The definition has changed, the playing field is now level, and the sales approach in your business can now change to adapt to it.

Darcy J Smyth is the lead trainer of the Tonal Persuasion Method for Sales – a methodology designed to ensure you are closing sales the way they are meant to be closed in the modern business landscape. Download your TPM Beginner’s Guide below:


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