The More Things Seem to Change, The More They Stay the Same

A lady sitting next to me on a flight asked me what I do to for a living.When I told her that I coach salespeople and sales managers, she gave me a strange look. Then she said, “can you earn a living doing that? Isn’t the sales profession dead?” She wasn’t being nasty. She just thought today’s ready access to information and technology would make salespeople redundant.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

That’s from a nineteenth French adage. Every generation thinks they’re different from previous generations. They believe their world is different, their wants and needs unique to them, and their challenges unusual. This may be partially true, but it’s only on a superficial level. Technology has advanced at lightning speed in the past few decades. Millennials have a comfort and an understanding of technology baby boomers will never have.

Despite the differences, the things that really matter haven’t changed at all. Every generation wants relationships, children, homes, acknowledgement, a feeling of belonging. Above all, they want to make a difference. Granted, it may be tougher these days than it was a generation ago. 

Millennials may be better educated, but they have crippling student loans. On top of that, they have a tough time finding jobs in their fields. There’s also a difference in how this generation communicates. Look, I realize these are generalizations … you can’t just paint everyone with the same brush. We’re all individuals and need to be treated as such. There are some generalizations that apply, but, deep down we’re more alike than different.

I’m a salesperson. I’ve been a salesperson for most of my adult life.I’ve seen a lot of changes, but the basics of selling have remained the same. In fact, there has been nothing new in selling since the Phoenicians, or since the Celts overran Europe thousands of years ago.

Many self-styled sales gurus would have us believe that traditional selling is dead. According to them, social media and smart phones are replacing the professional salesperson. Modern technology is everything. All you need to do is input your requirements in your smart phone, or whatever your gizmo of choice may be. A drone will instantly make the delivery to your door. Ain’t life grand?

Yeah, right! Look, modern technology is incredible. It can make life easier and more efficient for most of us, even those of us in sales. Heck, I don’t remember how I functioned before Google or Amazon.

But, and this is very important, technology will not do your job for you.It will not prospect. It will not get new clients for you. It will not build good solid relationships that last a lifetime. Sure, the right tools will make it easier to accomplish all these things, but you still must do the work. Today, perhaps more than ever, the world needs professional salespeople to cut through the noise and clutter of too much data.

Here's a secret: Your customers are overwhelmed with data. They have too much information. They need you to help them decipher it, and show them how to use it.

Not that many years ago, you would buy a list of prospects. It wasn’t cheap, and by the time you got it, 30% of the data was obsolete. Today, you can do a targeted search on LinkedIn. It’s up-to-date and it’s far more accurate than the old lists.

Here’s the thing. You now have better tools, but you still must do the work. You still must get your prospect to know, like and trust you. In short, you must sell!

Anthony Iannarino in The Sales Blog has been preaching about this topic for years. Read his post, Technology Is No Substitute for Building Better Salespeople

The professional salesperson is not dead. Far from it, professional salespeople are more important today than ever before. Note, I use the term professional salesperson. Those are the salespeople who add value; who help their customers get what they want; the salespeople who do what’s in the best interest of the customer, while at the same time, keeping their companies profitable.
The other ones, the ones who by rote tell you to, “have a nice day” are already being replaced by robots and self-checkouts.

I’m Oliver Connolly and I help salespeople, sales managers and owners get more profitable sales consistently.
Contact me at to see if I can help you.
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Oliver Connolly