Death of a “Product” Salesman

Photo by Hannah Stelzl

Remember Arthur Miller’s 1949 play, Death of a Salesman?  Loman’s  downfall is directly tied to his continued misconception of himself…not so different from today’s product sales rep.  The product sales rep who continually studies the features through the companies online training resources and Webex meetings, walks into sales situations confident that his product will do the job.

Little does he know that Google has already been there.  For weeks or even months, the technical team has been pouring over data sheets, customer reviews, technical blog notes, and competitive solutions.   With a few key search words, it’s all right there, at their finger tips.  Lists of bugs, future release promises, user forums, and independent developers talking about what will come next and where this product fits best.  In some cases that may kill the sale, in others, the product is named number one by some respectable e-zine.

In Jeff Jarvis’ book he rights, “Google has changed everything”, and he’s right.  If your 2011 strategy is to be the go-to on some particular technology, expect two disastrous things to occur.  First, expect your clients to be on Google, and likely ahead of you in product knowledge.  Second, expect your product to be one of many commoditzed offerings.  The misconception of being there to deliver inspiring slideware on product features will be the demise of next years sales team.

© 2010, David Stelzl


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