Why sales is no longer the "big man on campus"

salesmanWhen I first entered the workforce (back in the eighties) sales people ruled the roost. They swaggered around the office like they were BMOC. Everyone knew that nothing happened if they didn’t “bring in the business” and we all respected them for it.

But something has changed (OK a lot has changed) and sales people don’t have that same swagger anymore. In the eighties a call from a sales person, while not exactly celebrated, was welcomed – that was how we found out about new products! Now no one needs to talk to a sales person to get information; that’s what Google’s for! We have all become adept at avoiding sales people no matter what they are offering. The once honored profession has slipped far down the totem pole. Where they used to be celebrated, now they are tolerated.

Now we are in the Information Age, where we put all of our information out for everyone to see. The empowered buyer looks at your information and the information your competitors are offering and they decide when it makes sense to call you. The buyer is in control of the sales process.

Still the seller has one more tool in their bag. All this information being downloaded and viewed on your website means that we can start to see who is reading what. Though the buyer is in control, we can watch! This provides us a lot of data. Data about what the buyer is interested in, what they are afraid of, what they prefer and all that data is now available for the marketing team to analyze and use to improve our pitches, offers and information. This information has given the marketer some swagger!

Better marketing: more educational content, clearer presentation of your value proposition, better offers and calls-to-action, will increase the number (and hopefully quality) of the leads in your sales funnel and that alone is a huge win. But the sales funnel still doesn’t sell itself. It’s the rare company that can successfully close business with just a website. We still need sales people to bring our prospects to the point of decision.

This is the new reality of business development. The swaggering sales person is a little more humble – a little more dependent on the marketing team to bring in the leads. But they still have a vital role to play. For business owners in my generation this change is sometimes hard to understand, hard to adjust to, but we must adjust.

If you find yourself still adjusting to the “new realities” of business development we have an eBook that digs a little deeper into this sea change – in it I look at where this change came from, what it means for your business and how both sales people and marketers have something to learn from each other.

You can register to download it free for a limited time. Give it a read and let me know what you think. I look forward to your feedback!

sales and marketing ebook


  1. Hi Brad,
    It’s probably fair to say that sales has changed not so much been downgraded. Or perhaps we might even say it’s merged with marketing in some instances, particularly if we look at how some companies view online conversion strategy. The role of sales is somewhat different these days, it’s true. But, if anything, it’s gotten easier to sell smarter and that can’t be a bad thing. Thanks to Devan Perine for sharing this post with the BizSugar community.

    • Yes, Marketing used to report to sales, and now it’s practically a function of marketing. I work with a lot of business owners, and many haven’t yet made the shift in their head that they need to lead with marketing and follow with sales.

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