A year of living behind closed doors and in front of computers has left many wondering if the art of selling has been redrawn. Of necessity, we have adapted to ordering products and services online. Will this buyer’s paradigm shift diminish the role of the traditional salesperson that knocked on doors? Are we still in the people business?

The answer is mixed. Yes, more sales are being directed through online channels such as Amazon, Grainger, Home Depot, etc., and directly to suppliers/manufacturers. A salesman’s interaction is not required here and this is unlikely to change. Yet, there remain many circumstances in which the personal touch is still required to make a sale. What we think of as traditional interpersonal selling is still important.   

Technical expertise

In today’s sales environment, technical expertise is what differentiates you from the online order cart. It brings added-value to the transaction. Reps must be able to recognize, demonstrate, and present cost savings to their customers. It is these interactions that keep us in the people business.

Required skills

To compete against the ease and pricing of online transactions, you need good interpersonal skills. Focus on these: 

  • Use body language – Be empathetic. The ability to understand and share feelings builds trust between people. Use eye contact and positive gestures. For example, leaning forward in your chair demonstrates confidence, interest, and enthusiasm.
  • Look your best – First impressions may not be fair, but they are a fact. Make sure your initial visit is a positive one. Remember, you feel the way you look.  New clothes lift your spirits and this will show. Check your face for possible embarrassments before you get out of your car. When you arrive, smile.
  • Demonstrate interest – Your goal is to make the client feel important.  Show genuine interest by encouraging your prospect/customer to discuss his or her interests, needs, and priorities. Do not launch into a spiel about yourself or your products. Address your customer by his name, offer a compliment, ask questions, and listen.

The human connection

The pandemic has changed many things but not our ingrained need for human connection. The “click” cannot replace what transpires in a face-to-face sales call. We are all in the people business. Work on your interpersonal skills.

Get tips and tricks like the above in The Art of Sales books. Or subscribe to the FREE monthly articles here.